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Author Notes:

Lily Potter stood at the lectern awaiting her sixth year class. She'd be making the point to the students almost immediately that there was a new set of rules in place.

Her thoughts seemed to be their own Summoning Spell, as the first of the students began to drift into the room. She looked at the attendance sheet and smiled as each person listed checked off as they entered the room. Sirius had his part, but the movers and shakers on that map were James and Remus. She chuckled as she also realised that she could easily tell which of the students were likely to develop a crush on her. Finnegan, definitely. He fashions himself a ladies' man, from what I see. Malfoy entered the room, but wasn't quick enough to get the sneer off his face before she noticed. She catalogued it for later.

"All right, settle down," she said. "Today starts a new age for the students of Hogwarts. The previous class learned it, and now, so shall you. Today you begin to actually learn the whys and wherefores of Potions brewing and creation, rather than simply following the written recipe like a mindless drone."

"Professor Snape is a Master in the field!" Malfoy exclaimed in an affronted voice.

"That may well be, but he clearly can't teach worth a damn," she replied. Several students reacted that the usage of the word 'damn', which made her laugh. "You'll want to watch it in other classes, but I think you're getting old enough to hear words like that, and in the right circumstances - or wrong as the case may be - actually utter them. Trust me, when you get out in the world, you'll hear much stronger words than that used."

She began to walk around in front of the class. "Back to my point about teaching. Mr. Thomas, why should most of the stirring motions in a Calming Potion be widdershins?"

"Widdershins, Professor?" Dean asked, confused.

"Widdershins, Mr. Thomas. Widdershins is anti-clockwize and deosil is clockwize. Widdershins."He thought for a moment before saying, "I'm afraid I don't know, Professor. I just know that they should be."

"Mr. Goyle? Can you answer it?"

"Um, I think it's cuz you're getting rid of something."

"Precisely. You are 'getting rid of' or banishing anxiety, so the potion must be stirred in an anti-clockwise direction. One point for Slytherin. Where did you learn that?" she asked.

"Professor Snape taught us that." Malfoy smirked as Goyle answered her.

"In this classroom, or privately to just the Slytherin students?" she asked, which wiped Malfoy's smirk away immediately.

"In the common room," Goyle answered. "He taught us Slytherins separately."

She noticed Malfoy glaring at Goyle. "Is there a problem, Mr. Malfoy?"

"No, ma'am," he answered in a surly voice as he turned to face her, rather than his classmate.

"I see no reason why you should be angry at Mr. Goyle for earning you another point for his honesty." She walked over to Ron Weasley. "Mr. Weasley, what stone would you place in the Sobriety Potion?"

"That's the one you drink before drinking something alcoholic, right?" he asked, drawing some laughter from the other purebloods in the room, which made his ears turn red.

"Precisely, Mr. Weasley, and take a point for your honesty in asking, rather than assuming, since there are anti-drunkenness potions that should be consumed after imbibing." She turned to the rest of the class. "Never be afraid to ask a question in my class. You can't learn if you don't understand, and if you don't understand a concept, then I need to know so that I can explain it better." She turned back to Ron. "Now, do you know the answer to my question? What stone is a catalyst?"

"An amethyst?" he asked. He sounded like he was fairly sure about it but a bit scared of being wrong.

"Correct. Mr. Finnegan, why an amethyst?"

She could tell that he was trying to decide between the smart-aleck answer and the real one. "Well, me Mum says it's one of the magical properties of the stone. I never learned that from Professor Snape, though."

"Another point for Gryffindor." She walked back to the lectern. "I'll be talking to the school about getting some books for you on the topics you'll need to reach full competency in the subject of potions. This will be a gruelling year for the upper classes, I warn you. If I'd had more warning, I could perhaps have gotten word to your parents, but Severus Snape was only arrested yesterday morning. I was offered the job on the first of September."

"What'd they say he did?" Malfoy asked, his tone challenging.

She looked at the blonde student for a moment, clearly trying to decide whether or not to answer. "Complicity in a murder and consorting with Dark Lords were the charges I was told about," she finally replied before turning back to the rest of the class.

"And it wasn't even a competent Dark Lord," Harry muttered, although it was loud enough to be heard throughout the classroom. Malfoy's face started to go red at the slight.

"Explain, Mr. Potter," Lily said. "Many consider him to be the most dangerous Dark Lord in a thousand years."

"Then Grindelwald was a piker who played with children's blocks that had no sharp edges, for his own safety. Voldemort -" he paused for the various screams and gasps "- couldn't even kill me as a baby, and the three times he's tried and failed miserably since then as well. He's good at collateral damage, but he's bugger all on completion, in my experience." He blinked. "Pardon the language, Professor."

Lily laughed. "I think I can forgive your language if you're calling You Know Who incompetent."

"Ma'am?" Harry asked with a scowl on his face. "May I say something unconnected to Potions but that I think needs to be said about Voldemort?"

Lily looked at her son for a moment and realised that he was consciously beginning to take on the mantle of leadership that would be needed in these times. Albus's day was coming to an end, and Harry would soon take up that position as the perceived leader of the Light side. "Go ahead, Mr. Potter."

He stood and walked to her lectern. "Sorry, but it's easier to see the entire class from here. I'll return to my seat as soon as I'm done."

She nodded with a smile and moved to sit in Harry's seat scowling at Hermione for just a moment.

Harry began to pace behind the lectern. "We're all running around screaming whenever we hear the name 'Voldemort'," he said. Several people obliged him. Most screams were not done out of a sense of comedy, save the excessively girlish and humorous scream from Seamus Finnegan. "Yes, thank you, Seamus," he said with a grin. "We're all scared of a made up name! The name that you all scream at every time you hear it was made up of the letters of his birth name, Tom Marvolo Riddle." Pulling out his wand, he performed the illusion that the spectre of Riddle had shown him years ago. The students stared in shock. "What he also doesn't want anyone knowing is that his mother named him for his Muggle father. Not Muggleborn, but Muggle."

"You lie, Potter!" Draco Malfoy yelled. "He's the true Heir of Slytherin! He's got the purest blood of us all!"

Harry cocked his head. "How do you know that about his lineage, Malfoy? I never said that. Perhaps your old Head of House told you? Or was it your father?"

If Malfoy wasn't considered to be Ravenclaw material, he was at least in possession of some native cunning, however late it might have come upon him. "Yes, Professor Snape told us," he said, stumbling over it slightly.

"I see. And you believe that you should trust the word of a known Death Eater . . . why?" Harry asked with feigned innocence. Malfoy's answer was to sullenly sit back in his chair. "Hmm, no answer. Well, really, that's all I wanted to say about Voldemort. If you can't call him a name he made up because you've been trained to be frightened by it, then call him Riddle, since it's his real last name. Use the letters in a different arrangement and call him Tromedlov or Vmootlerd or Lord Vromet." After a brief pause, he amended, "Maybe not that last one. Then it'd be 'I am Lord Lord Vromet'. Bit repetitive." He shrugged. "Then again, having being on the receiving end of his rants before . . ."

He walked back to his desk. "Sorry about that, Professor. I got carried away."

"That's quite all right, Mr. Potter. If you'll take your seat now, we can continue with the lesson."

"Oh, that man!" Hermione railed as she stomped softly around the nearly empty library alcove she'd grabbed near the Restricted Section. She was scowling mightily in her travels back and forth.

"Which one? Harry, James, Remus, or Albus?" Lily Potter asked as she came into the alcove.

"Last and first, in that order." Hermione paused. "Ma'am, I owe you a major apology, and I am still working on apologising to Harry. I was so far out of line as to be ridiculous at the welcoming feast. I let my short temper at the loss of my parents rule me, and I hounded your son into apologising for something he didn't need to apologise for. If you deem it a requirement, I will apologise to . . . No, I'll do it anyway. I publicly humiliated Harry, I should publicly humiliate myself. In the Great Hall, during dinner, I will stand and apologise to you then to Harry."

Lily didn't react, other than to nod. "Continue. What led to the outburst?"

"I was just thinking about . . ." She stopped her thought at one of the names that Lily had given earlier. "Wait, what has Prof ... Remus done?"

"Nothing that I know of. It's just habit from when the Marauders were active. Why 'Albus and Harry' and in that order? Other than all the rest of the things that Albus has done - 'for the greater good', of course," she added sarcastically, "what specifically has he done?"

"Harry lived at the Durselys for nothing!" Hermione yelled and then fell into a chair herself. "It was all for nothing!" she repeated softly.

Lily was immediately alert. "What do you mean, it was all for nothing?" Her tone was demanding.

"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 forged in the fires of adversity, he will be the One to vanquish the Dark Lord†¦The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies†¦" Hermione quoted. "It's the ‘forged in the fires of adversity' line that clinches it."

"Explain!" Lily demanded, sounding more and more the lioness guarding her cub then the detached professor.

Hermione started at the brusque command but then continued. "He's been The Boy Who Lived since the moment he survived that Killing Curse. Whether he'd grown up with you or not, he'd have faced that. That would have been stressful all by itself. But might-have-beens are unimportant. First year, Harry had to deal with the problem of being The Boy Who Lived to the public in the school. Everyone knew he was back. So was Voldemort, unfortunately. We can assume that in one way or another, Voldemort and Quirrell would have found each other. Harry would have faced him, much as he did. You and Mr. Potter, well, I can't see you and him allowing Harry to have a swelled head, so he'd have won against Voldemort the same way that he †¦" she trailed off, and a grin broke onto her face.

"What is it, Miss Granger?" Lily asked.

"He's going to win," she breathed. "Harry's going to win!" She hugged herself tightly. "He's going to win!" The last one was shouted.

"We're glad of that," Lily said in a rather dry tone. "But what made you realise that?"

"He defeated Voldemort in first year, by burning Quirrell. He was told that it was you sacrificing your life for him that allowed it, but he was told that after he was victorious! Riddle may have his blood, but Harry will still win, because he can love, while Riddle can't. That's what drove him out of Harry's mind a month or so ago - Harry's love for Sirius and you two. He thought he was going to die, so he thought about seeing Sirius and you two again. Drove Voldemort right out, screaming!"

"I'm not sure I follow you. Finish this thought, then go back to the original one."

"Harry destroyed Voldemort's body because of love. He was told it was because you died for him. As you're sitting here talking to me, you obviously didn't die for him, although I'm sure you would if necessary. But apparently his ability to love actually is a power to reckon with."

"Can I assume that you'd be interested in examining that particular power rather more closely than you currently have been?" Lily asked rather pointedly.

Hermione realised that she was on tenuous ground. She had the feeling that there was really no proper answer, at least not that would put her in the good graces of Lily Potter. "Back to the original point about adversity," she said, trying valiantly to ignore what she assumed was a veiled threat. "He faced Riddle in first year, he faced his echo in second year, for which the Weasleys are greatly appreciative - especially Ginny - although the entire school hated Harry for a while. Third year was the year that he faced the fear that Sirius was the traitor and faced down Pettigrew, Sirius, and Professor Lupin during an uncontroled full moon. Fourth year led to him being entered into the Goblet of Fire for the Tri-Wizard Tournament against his will. He was hated even by Ron for a while, the jealous git. But during that year, he faced a dragon, the merfolk while he rescued Ron and a Veela girl, and then the things in the maze, before discovering that the Cup at the centre was a Portkey to Voldemort. He survived that -"

She broke off and blinked as an incongruity came to mind. "How were there echoes of you two in Voldemort's wand?"

"With the amount of emotion running high that night, it was likely an emotional imprint, sort of like a partial ghost," Lily said absently as she followed the bushy-haired girl's logic.

Hermione nodded. "Okay, that makes sense. Back to the topic: He had all that crap, and then had fifth year when the Ministry did everything that they could to discredit him." She took a deep breath. "It's hard to say, but I can see how things might not have been all that different even if you'd been the family for him to return to every summer. He'd have faced Voldemort, he'd have fought the diary version, and he'd probably still have faced Pettigrew, although Pettigrew would have been the one escaping Azkaban. Maybe not. But I'm betting that Voldemort would have found someone to help bring him back, and fourth year and fifth year would have been the same."

"There's a break in your logic, Miss Granger," Lily pointed out somewhat triumphantly. "Wormtail went looking for him. You can't guarantee that someone would have come along and helped him."

"I admit that Pettigrew was a lucky break for Riddle, but Quirrel went looking for him three years earlier. As much as I think it a woolly science, I suspect that the prophecy has some control over things and is attempting to bring things to a head. Harry comes back to the wizarding world, and Riddle just happens to come back the same year? I suspect that there is something out there aiming things toward a final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort, no matter how much admitting that bothers me." She shook her head. "But that's neither here nor there. Harry has been through hell, and might-have-beens are irrelevant. What matters is what he has actually faced. He has fought for his life at least five times since returning to Hogwarts." She looked up at Lily. "Would you classify that as ‘fires of adversity'?"

Lily looked carefully at the girl in front of her. "I begin to understand why some have referred to you as the smartest witch of your generation. With proper guidance, you'll likely go far."

Her expression changed to a scowl. "But don't think that apologising to me in public will make things all right between us. You publicly hurt and humiliated my son. If he gets any ridicule this year from it, it will be because of you. I want you to think carefully about that. Because of your views on propriety and such, my Harry was held up before the entire school population as an object to be either pitied or ridiculed."

"I know," Hermione said softly. "I'm surprised that he still wants to be my friend after that."

"Don't think I won't have a conversation about that with him, girl," Lily said with a tone of slight menace. "I'm not sure that you're a good influence on him."

"Shouldn't that be his decision?" Hermione shot back, startled at the sudden change in the conversation. "Besides, is it your job as teacher to involve yourself in his personal life?" This was not something that should be happening in a teacher/student conversation, and it reminded her disturbingly of the previous Potions professor, although she couldn't pinpoint why.

"Don't you take that tone with me, child! I am his mother!"

"And you haven't been around him for most of his life! I know him better than you do! Don't you dare pull that on me!"

"I will see you -" she began.

"See her what, Mum?" Harry asked as he rounded the corner to the alcove. "Madam Pince is apoplectic up front, by the way. If it was students screaming back here, then she'd kick them out, but when it's a teacher . . ." He scowled at both women. "And what the hell were you thinking, talking about what you were in such an insecure place? It's good that it was just you and Pince, but this is the library! Anyone could overhear what you were shouting about!"

"Don't take that tone with me, young man," Lily snapped. "Miss Granger and I were having a conversation concerning her continued association with you."

"Well, considering that she's the best friend I've got in the world, I hope it was over her safety. I think you'd probably have to cripple her to make her abandon me after five years." He smiled at Hermione by way of thanks, ignoring the tone his mother had used.

He missed the speculative look that Lily gave Hermione at that comment. "Plus," he continued, "I think I'm in love with the girl, and if she left, I've no idea how I'd cope."

Hermione blinked several times. "You . . . you love me? You -"

"I said that I'd wait for as long as you wanted to get over the deaths of your parents," he said softly. "I asked you to be my girlfriend when you were ready. I'm not like some of the other guys. I . . . well, Neville, Lavender, and Parvati made me realise that I should just admit my feelings."

"Son, we'll talk about this a bit later, I think," Lily said as she stood to leave. Harry caught the look she gave Hermione this time.

"Yes, Mum, I look forward to the talk," he said, his voice taking on a hard edge.

"I am your mother and you will not speak to me in that manner, young man!" she barked.

He simply looked at her for a long moment before saying, "Looks like we'll be having our first real fight then, Mum," he said, using the last word sarcastically. He turned to Hermione, "Shall we leave? I can escort you back to the tower." With that, he helped Hermione to her feet and they left the library, leaving a fuming Lily Potter behind.

They hadn't gotten very far when she burst from the library and caught up with them. "You will not turn your back on me, young man! Since I am a teacher here, I am giving you a detention with me, tonight, where I will explain the punishments you will get if you choose to date this . . . girl."

He raised an eyebrow at her rant, and then said in a voice obviously filled with rage, "I look forward to the conversation, Professor Potter. Shall we say 7 P.M. in your office?"

"You're just making it worse with the tone, Mr. Potter," she replied sharply.

"And you're making things worse by informing me, in a public place, that the teachers in this school have a right to decide the romantic relationships of the students!"

"I'm not doing it as a teacher, I'm doing it as a mother!" she yelled.

"THEN YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO ENFORCE IT IN A SCHOOL SETTING!" he bellowed. "If you insist on following through with this, Professor, then I will bring you up on charges!"


The hallway was silent for a long moment after Lily Potter's hand struck her son's face. Rage contorted her normally attractive appearance. "You will not speak to a professor in that manner. Seven P.M." With that, she stalked off.

"Oh, no," Hermione moaned. "Maybe she's right. I've caused a huge fight between the two of you! She struck you, and she never seemed the type this summer!"

"She's an Evans," Harry said simply. His tone showed that he was still angry, but that resignation and sorrow were also components. "Evidence seems to show that the Evans family has a tendency to lash out at things that they can't control. Aunt Petunia did it all the time. Once she threw a frying pan at my head. It didn't connect, but I was also in trouble for the dent it made in the wall." He shrugged. "So I'll get to go listen to her try to explain why I can't date you, we'll scream at each other for a while, and then she'll give me a direct order, threatening my grades or my standing in Gryffindor or whatever."

"How can you be so blasé about it?" Hermione was nearly apoplectic.

"Simple: Now I understand her a lot better. We've been together for long enough for her to be willing to drop the mask around me. The woman that was Petunia Dursley's sister is coming to the fore, and I'm learning that she was not the bastion of sweetness and wonderfulness that everyone said she was. I'm related to her. That's it. Yeah, it hurts to find out that they're not the perfect people that I thought they were, but now that I know the truth, I can adjust."

"How'd your dad get into this?" she asked, more than a little bit puzzled.

"Oh, sorry. I never told you guys about the memory that Snape left in the Penseive, did I? Whether or not it was invented, there had to be some truth to it. Dad was a bully growing up, and so was Sirius. Not that I like the little bastard, but I begin to understand why Pettigrew was willing to turn traitor. Dad probably used him as a target for pranks occasionally. I'm sure that Sirius did."

She shook her head. "I am so sorry about all this. Maybe you would be -"

He almost smiled. "Would you guys accept that idea from me if I said it in regards to my trying to be alone to fight Moldieshorts?" She shook her head. "So what makes you think that I'm going to accept letting the girl I really think I'd like to have as my girlfriend get away?" He blinked. "Wait. Let me say that so that even I can understand what I just said." She giggled softly. "Seriously, though. If you won't let me be alone for something that might kill you guys if you follow me, then what makes you think I'm going to let my future girlfriend get away from me without a fight?" He pulled her into a hug.

"Thank you," she said softly. "Nobody other than my parents ever really made me feel as wanted as you just did." She looked up at him and saw that he was remaining silent, but he seemed to be blushing. "Are you thinking of a different meaning for 'wanting me'?" she asked with a grin teasing at the corner of her mouth.

"Were I an American, I would plead the Fifth, whatever that means. Instead, I'll just say that . . . hey, look! A snorkack!" he said, pointing off down the hall.

"That's not going to work," she said, shaking her head in amusement. "You're not an American, and there's no snorkack. But I appreciate what you're too embarrassed to say. Thank you."

"It's rude to say what . . . well, I think it's even rude to think it about you, but -"

"Well, you just go on being rude if you want to," she replied. "It's nice to know that someone thinks I'm pretty." They hugged tighter for a moment, and then continued the walk to Gryffindor Tower.

Voldemort looked with interest at the letter that had been handed to him by Narcissa Malfoy. "My Lord, I have no idea of the content," she said, head bowed. "Our son sent it to us, with that sealed letter already inside."

"Yes, it is a conundrum, isn't it?" Voldemort teased. "Open it and find out what the boy wishes to tell me, possibly taking credit for it yourselves, or potentially face my wrath for opening a missive addressed to me, in hopes of disarming any possible traps. Quite the choice, isn't it?"

"Yes, Lord," she said softly, head still bowed.

Convinced he had her properly cowed, he opened the letter carefully - the boy was an idiot, but one does not live long enough to become a Dark Lord by ignoring precautions - and pulled out the sheets within. No Curses or Charms lay upon the missive.

My Lord,

I do not know if you have heard all that has happened at Hogwarts thus far, so I will explain it all. Please forgive me if I am simply repeating that which you already know in your infinite wisdom.

To start with, I must report that Professor Snape has been arrested for being a Death Eater and for having a part in the deaths of the Mudblood Granger's parents. I do not know if he truly had a part in it, but the Headmaster himself seems to have no problem with the situation, so I assume that Professor Snape has done something to anger the Mudblood loving old goat.

Second, the reports that the Skeeter woman made this summer are true. Potter's parents are alive and currently teaching here. I have tried to begin some inquiries into how the Potters were brought back to life, but the questioning has gone nowhere thus far. I apologise that I have not been more capable in procuring this information and hope that you will be gentle with my punishment when the time comes, although I do not deserve such mercy.

I will continue my inquiries, however.

There appears to be some good news, however, regarding Dumbledore. It appears that the 'Golden Boy' is on the outs with him, as are many of the teachers at the school. Including the Potters. They especially seem to have a blinding hatred of either him or of something that he has done. I suspect that this can be exploited, although I am uncertain how at this time. I eagerly await your orders in this regard.

Also, it appears that Potter is even on the outs with his own parents. I was lucky enough to overhear a screaming match between himself and his mother, over the possibility of Potter dating the Mudblood Granger. As much as it disgusts me, perhaps we should encourage this relationship, if it can cause that kind of dissension amongst the fools. Separating Potter from his parents through their own stupidity would likely work quite well into your hands, My Lord.

As further information becomes available, I will forward it to you. I wish that there were more, but it is only a week into the school year. I am honestly surprised that there was this much information.

Eternally in your service,

Draco Malfoy

"He understands grovelling quite well, I see," Voldemort said softly. "I am aware that it is also not 'all', but he does well to avoid the more useless information."

He thought for several minutes, quietly contemplating the information within. No one is aware that I know that the Potters were not dead. I can perhaps use that information. Let us see.

"I shall write him a response, and you will send it to him with your next owl."

"Yes, My Lord," Narcissa replied shakily.

James Potter followed his wife as she headed toward the Potions classroom. She'd been glaring at the Granger girl for most of dinner, even after Hermione had stood and publicly apologised for her part in the Welcoming Feast incident.For some reason,, and Harry seemed to be receiving some of those glares as well. Something had made her angry, and as he knew all too well, when she got it in her head to be angry, it took forever to get her out of that mood. If there's anyone who knows that, it's me.

He waited outside the door of the classroom to see who might be coming along. He knew the school well enough to be able to hide and not be seen, so there was no danger of anyone telling Lily that he was skulking outside. He was slightly startled to see Harry approach. "I'm here for my detention, Professor Potter," his son said with little love for the woman inside. Shite, what did she do now? I love her, but damn me if she's doesn't live up to that stupid hair colour. He slid one end of an Extendible Ear under the door as it closed.

"You're developing quite the attitude, Harry," Lily said. "Is that related to being back at school or something else?"

"Oh, it's quite clearly something else, Professor," he replied calmly. "Last year, it was the Ministry telling me what I could think. This year, it's you doing the same thing."

"I'm not telling you what you can think, Harry," Lily said. "I'm just telling you that dating that girl is not a good idea. I've asked around about her, and it's not a good picture."

"Let me guess a few names that you interviewed, if I may, Professor? I'm betting that names like Marietta Edgecombe, Cho Chang, Pansy Parkinson, Millicent Bulstrode, and probably several of the guys from all the Houses too. But you ignored people like Ron and Ginny and Neville. How'd I do?"

"Fairly spot on," was her reply. "Don't you think that it's rather telling that you could list the people I spoke to? She's no good for you, son."

"Let's see. Marietta still has spots from the curse she knowingly set off last year by betraying us to the Ministry. Cho is Marrietta's best friend, who also saw before we did how we feel about each other, and therefore sees Hermione as not only the woman who hurt her best friend, but who also stole her boyfriend. Bulstrode and Hermione have hated each other since day one, and Parkinson thinks that Hermione is worthless because she's a Muggle-born. Most of the guys hate her because she's smarter than them and wouldn't give them the time of day."

"You're just trying to protect her. I've been told by quite a few about her misguided S.P.E.W. attempts. She made no effort to learn about the house elves and made things quite horrible for Dobby."

"She was fifteen. Didn't you do anythingsomething at fifteen without thinking it through? Besides, since her error was pointed out, she's been trying to improve.

"You're just trying to stick your nose into something that doesn't concern you."

"You're my son," Lily replied with forced calm. "If you're dating someone I think is inappropriate for you, I'll do more than stick my nose into the situation."

James could hear Harry laugh, but it was not a happy sound. "I wish Aunt Petunia was still alive; I'd apologise to her for thinking you were a saint."


"Were all the Evans women this violent and hateful?"


"I can keep this going all night, Professor. I've written lines that were carved into my own hand. I've faced the Cruciatus from Voldemort himself. Slapping me around in hopes that it will somehow convince me - or you - that you're right is'not going to work. I've been beaten by your sister and her walrus of a husband, not to mention their whale of a son. You'll have to get a lot more inventive, Professor. Now, unless you have an actual detention for me, I have homework to do. You won't convince me to stop hoping that I can date Hermione someday." He started walking toward the door.

"Don't think that I won't try getting her expelled, Harry," his wife called out to their son.

"Do what you feel is necessary, Professor." James just barely got the Ear out of the way and returned to his hiding place just in time, because Harry yanked the door open and stalked from the room angrily.

He walked in a short time later, after ensuring that Harry was nowhere in sight. "What a piece of work you are, Lily," he said before she could say a word. "Where has this hateful harridan been these past few years? Did someone Imperius you or something?"

"That little bitch has her hooks into my son, and he can't see what a horrible thing it is! I need to break them apart before it gets too far."

"And slapping him around is going to help you in that regard?" he asked her incredulously.

"How do you know what was going on inside this room?" she asked, eyes narrowing.

"I'm a Marauder for Merlin's sake! I've got no end of tricks up my sleeve! The point is that I saw you walking down here with that infamous 'I'm pissed at everything' look of yours - the one that makes you walk so that your breasts bounce in an alternating rhythm?"

"You and my tits," she growled, but her heart wasn't entirely in it.

"I've always been rather fond of your tits," he replied, "but that's not important right now. What is important is that our son never once called you 'Mum'. You were 'Professor' to him, even though he knew it was a family matter. What did you say to him earlier that led to this 'detention'?"

"I'd been talking to the Granger girl, and he came in at the end. Make no mistake, this relationship will end before it starts, James. I will not have him involved with someone who is so very certain that she knows better than everyone else."

James looked at her for a moment before he headed back to the door. "No, I can see that you wouldn't want him marrying a woman so much like his own mother." He shut the door and Sealed it quickly, leaving before she could reverse his charm. He could hear her scream of frustration from within.

Minerva McGonagall was nearly run over by Harry Potter on his way back to Gryffindor Tower. "Mr. Potter!" she barked in her brogue. "Watch where you're going!"

That seemed to shock him out of whatever snit he was in, because he drew up short and turned to face her. "Sorry, Professor. This hasn't been a good day, and it's shaping up to be a crappy year. I wasn't watching where I was going I'm sorry."

The response was not exactly what she had expected, so she decided to draw him out a bit. "Given the tragedy that happened to Miss Granger's parents, I can see where that would put a damper on things, but your parents have returned! Doesn't take improve your situation at all?" She motioned for him to follow her, and they headed for her office.

He didn't speak again until they were there and seated comfortably. "You'd think it would, but I just gotten back from being talked at by Professor Potter, who has informed me that she won't permit any relationship to happen between Hermione Granger and myself. She'll see Hermione expelled if necessary. That's something I'd expect out of that manipulative old coot upstairs, not my own mother!"

"Lily threatened Miss Granger? Why?" Her hand shot to her chest in shock.

"Apparently, she feels that the humiliation I received at the Opening Feast was the Fourth Unforgivable and plans to see to it that Hermione is expelled for being a threat to myself and other students. Or at least a threat to my heart. Or something."

"What are you going to do?" McGonagall asked slowly.

"Explain to Hermione that I'm going to back off on dating her until we've left Hogwarts. I won't let my romantic feelings get in the way of her education. Besides, now that she knows that one person finds her pretty, she'll act differently around the school. This way, she has a chance to attract the attention of someone better."

"She would have trouble finding someone better than yourself, Harry," McGonagall replied in a manner that was both stern and gentle. "While, at times, I might wish that you were a better student, I've never been able to fault your sense of right and wrong. You're willing to hurt yourself to help the woman you care for. If that doesn't melt her heart, then nothing will."

"I need to tell her, though. I'm not looking forward to that."

"And I will warn the others to watch out for inappropriate behaviour from Lily. I would say that it would be impossible, but your attitude tells me how wrong I am." She sighed. "Unfortunately, the experience with Albus from this summer also shows me that I don't know people as well as I thought I did. Even this late in life, I can still be blind-sided." Her tone was sad.

Harry's eyes twinkled. "What do you mean, 'this late in life'? You're younger than Snape, aren't you? He was Seventh Year while you were an ickle Firstie, right?"

She laughed softly. "You, Mr. Potter, are a great deal like your father, and all in the good ways. He, too, was quite a charmer."

"What? You think I jest?" Harry replied with mock affrontery. "How could you say such a thing?"

"Away with you, scamp!" she laughed again. "Go to your lady and explain the situation."

He nodded, no longer smiling. "I'm going to start keeping a record, too. If I have to, I'm going to bring her up on charges before the Board of Governors."

"I hope it doesn't get to that," Minerva said softly.

"So do I."

"How'd your detention go?" Ron asked as Harry entered the Tower.

"What detention? It was another excuse for Professor Potter to yell at me and slap me around."

"She hit you again?" Hermione asked.

"Twice. Not a big thing, so don't worry about it."

"Your own mother strikes you and you say 'Don't worry about it'?" Ginny asked, her voice making her incredulity obvious.

"Think about who her sister was, Ginny. Petunia Evans-Dursley never had a problem striking me. Basically, Professor Evans-Potter showed that the temper and anger are an Evans trait. I had that problem last year, I'm sure you can recall. I'll want to see someone about that after I get out of school, before I get involved in a relationship."

"What about me?" Hermione asked, stricken.

"We have to either run around behind everyone's backs - and you know the rumour mill around here - or we wait until we're out of school. Professor Potter has decided that she's going to try to get you expelled if we start a romantic relationship. Your education is more important to me than my heart, Hermione, so I'm willing to wait until after you've aced all your N.E.W.T.s to get romantically involved with you if you're still willing at that point."

"What if I don't want to wait?" she asked.

He sighed. "Merlin knows that I'd love to stand on the table in the Great Hall during breakfast and scream out that I love you, but that's a sure-fire way to ensure that she invents something to get you expelled."

There was a long pause as Harry's friends thought this through. "So she wins," was the only thing that Hermione could say.

"So she wins," Harry agreed bitterly.

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