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Divided and Entwined (Harry Potter AU) (Complete)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Starfox5, Apr 23, 2016.

  1. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters in the Harry Potter books or movies.

    Summary: Fudge doesn’t try to ignore Voldemort’s return at the end of the 4th Year. Instead, influenced by Malfoy, he tries to appease the Dark Lord. Many think that the rights of the muggleborns are a small price to pay to avoid a bloody war. Hermione Granger and the other muggleborns disagree. Vehemently.

    Author's Notes: This story is set in an Alternate Universe. A number of canon events didn't or won't happen. The society of Wizarding Britain is a bit different and a number of characters will act differently as well.

    Many thanks to thekingofsweden1, rpeh, brianna-xox, fredfred and Otium for betaing. Their help has improved the story a lot.

    Cover:
    [​IMG]

    Omake by Ack
    Another Omake by Ack
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2017
    lostRelative and Photon like this.
  2. Threadmark: Chapter 1: Descent into Darkness
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Divided and Entwined

    Chapter 1: Descent into Darkness

    ‘At the time of the Dark Lord’s return, Wizarding Britain had been at peace for over a decade. Long enough to recover from the last war, but not long enough to be ready for another. Most of the Hit Wizards who had borne the brunt of the fighting in the Blood War had been released from service long ago. The Auror Corps had been deemed more than sufficient to guarantee the security of the country, and the gold so saved had been needed for rebuilding. The people had barely recovered from the ravages of that terrible war, and found the prospect of another war to be intolerable. In short, the the British Ministry of Magic had neither the means, nor the popular support to wage war on the Dark Lord.’
    - Excerpt from ‘Wizarding Britain in the 20th Century’ by Albert Runcorn


    *****​

    London, Ministry of Magic, June 26th, 1995

    “Cornelius, you know that Voldemort is back. You have seen Harry Potter’s memories yourself. You need to act, now. Before he builds up his forces.”

    Albus Dumbledore spoke calmly, but the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot was anything but calm. The Dark Lord had returned from death. He had recalled his inner circle already, and the means he had used to resurrect himself might even have rendered Harry’s blood protection powerless.

    “And what would you have me do, Albus? Send the Aurors to war?” Cornelius Fudge, Minister for Magic, scoffed. “They’re not trained for war. Half of them are still children!”

    Albus didn’t point out that the hiring practises of the Ministry had ensured that the Aurors were not what they could be, to put it mildly. It wouldn’t do to antagonise the Minister at this critical moment.

    “If you’re not doing anything, then Voldemort will just grow more powerful,” the old wizard said, ignoring how the minister cringed at hearing the name.

    “I will not plunge Britain into a war if it can be avoided! He just returned from death. He might have changed while he was… dead. His former sympathisers and the victims of his Imperius have been integrated into society for over a decade, after all,” Cornelius said. “They’re not ready for a war.”

    “That is exactly why we need to strike now, while he and his followers are still weak,” Albus retorted.

    Cornelius shook his head. “We cannot afford to push all those suspected supporters into his camp with such harsh and rash action. The public won’t support a war either.”

    “Amelia is certain that the balance of power favours the Ministry.” Albus had already spoken with the formidable head of the DMLE.

    “Amelia lost her entire family but for her niece to the last war. Of course she will want revenge, no matter the cost to Britain!” The Minister stood up and started to pace behind his desk.

    Albus narrowed his eyes. Cornelius was a good politician, but he was not usually that stubborn. Not unless… “You’ve spoken with Lucius, haven’t you?”

    The other wizard looked startled, then set his jaw. “Yes. And he told me that the Dark Lord does not wish a war either. If we adjust our policies a little, an accommodation can be reached.”

    “Lucius is a Death Eater. Of course he would claim this. He is manipulating you.” Albus rued the fact that he had allowed that man to grow so close to the Minister. But the only way to prevent that would have been… He had vowed not to give in to that temptation after Gellert.

    “He was a victim of the Imperius.” Cornelius stood, facing Albus. “But even if he is… we cannot afford a war. Not right now. And neither can You-Know-Who. That means diplomacy is our best option. Compromise. We need to give peace a chance.”

    Albus could almost hear Lucius talking when he listened to the Minister. “Do you honestly believe that Voldemort wants peace?” he asked, incredulously.

    “Didn’t you tell me once that everyone deserved a second chance?”

    Albus’s long experience in politics allowed him to keep smiling politely. “I did. But I do not think that this is applicable when we are talking about Voldemort.”

    Cornelius snorted. “I’ve spoken with several Wizengamot members who share my view. My decision stands. We’ll offer You-Know-Who … appeasement. A few concessions are a small price to pay, if we can avoid another terrible war.”

    Albus realised that the Minister wouldn’t be budged from his - or rather, Malfoy’s - decision. He would have to talk to the Wizengamot, but he was not optimistic. Cornelius was correct in that most of its members did not want a war.

    “I believe this is a mistake. A mistake that will come to cost us dearly, in the future.”

    With those parting words, the Chief Warlock left the office of the Minister for Magic.

    *****​

    London, Kingston upon Thames, August 15th, 1995

    Hermione Granger, sitting in her room at home, read her Hogwarts letter again. There was the usual booklist as well as the announcement of a new subject for all years, ‘Wizarding Customs’. That sounded very interesting. There was nothing else, though. The young witch didn’t consider herself presumptuous, but she had expected to be chosen as the female prefect for Gryffindor for their fifth year. Who else in her year was as smart, or rather, as academically inclined? Who else was as responsible? Certainly not Parvati or Lavender! And the other two girls in their year, Fay and Sally-Anne, were too shy to be prefects.

    She bit her lower lip. Maybe… maybe the Headmaster didn’t trust her to uphold the rules, given how often she and her friends had broken them in the past. For a good reason, of course, but still. If everyone followed their example, and with less urgent reasons…

    She took a deep breath, fighting her disappointment down. If that was the reason, then so be it. She had done what she had thought was needed, and she would do so again. Not being named prefect was a small price to do what was right.

    Besides, you did not have to be a prefect to become Head Girl. James Potter had never been a prefect, and he had been Head Boy. She nodded to herself. She would also have more time to study, without the responsibilities of being a prefect.

    Her reasoning helped, but she felt down for the rest of the day anyway. She had hoped that the Hogwarts letter would cheer her up, after reading the latest Daily Prophet. The Ministry kept telling people that the situation with Voldemort was ‘under control’, but she had not seen anything about any action taken against the monster who had had Cedric Diggory murdered and had tortured and almost murdered Harry! Just a number of new laws and decrees being passed - apparently, the hiring standards at the Ministry were being raised, among several decrees concerning professional standards for current employees.

    She had written to both Harry and Ron, but neither had been able to tell her what was going on at the Ministry. Apart from Sirius having been exonerated. Next to having had Kingsley Shacklebolt, an experienced Auror, appointed as DADA teacher, that had been the only good news she had heard lately. But she’d soon join her friends at Sirius’s house. She’d get more information once she was there.

    *****​

    London, No 12 Grimmauld Place, August 21st, 1995

    “Hermione!”

    Hermione Granger had barely stepped through the door of the house when she was swept up in a hug by her friend, Harry Potter.

    “Hello Harry,” she managed to get out, surprised and pleased by his greeting - obviously, Sirius becoming a free man again and living with his godfather had been a very good thing for her friend.

    Harry had barely released her before she was engulfed in a hug again, and lifted off the ground.

    “Hello Hermione!”

    “Hello Ron.”

    Her other best friend even twirled her around before setting her down again, despite her giggling protests.

    “Welcome to my humble abode,” Sirius Black said, bowing with a flourish.

    Hermione looked him over. For a former fugitive from the law, he looked good. Still more than a bit haggard, but he was wearing expensive-looking robes, and a grin she hadn’t seen often on his face. Not that she had met him often.

    “Kreacher! Take our guest’s luggage to her room!” Sirius bellowed. A grumbling house elf appeared right away, and started to take her trunk away. She thought she heard him mumble ‘mudblood’, but was not certain.

    A short tour of the house later - or of the rooms already cleared of cursed objects, traps, and magical pests - she found herself alone with Harry and Ron in her guest room. “So, what have you been up to?” She asked while taking out her clothes and storing them in the armoire.

    “I’ve been helping Sirius adjust to living free again,” Harry answered, with a smile. She knew he’d not talk about his relatives much, so she didn’t ask what he had been doing before that.

    Ron shrugged. “Same old same old at home. Doing chores, flying… I’ve been visiting Harry as often as I could, as soon as their Floo connection was set up.”

    “And we’ve been visiting the Burrow as well,” Harry added.

    For a moment, Hermione felt jealous, though she had known that from their letters already. She suppressed that emotion by reminding herself of her vacation in France. “You wrote about that already.” She folded her arms across her chest and looked at the two boys. “So, what’s going on at the Ministry? About Voldemort?”

    Ron flinched at hearing the name, which was expected. Harry winced, which was not a good sign. The two exchanged a glance, which was a worse sign. She gave them her best glare. “Spill it!”

    “Appeasement,” Harry spat out.

    “What?”

    “They’re trying to avoid a war, and are trying to appease him,” Harry explained.

    Ron nodded. “A number of ‘controversial’ decrees and bills have been repealed. Dad’s been livid since his muggle protection act was among them. The Minister said that it was ‘needlessly provocative’.”

    Hermione gasped. “What? Are they crazy?”

    Ron shrugged. “Hard to say. Dad said that the Ministry’s been hiring more Aurors, but they’ve also been firing Aurors and other Employees. Some for violating new standards of conduct. Dad’s been warned off from making waves, he said, by Dumbledore.”

    “What is Dumbledore doing, anyway?” Hermione asked.

    Harry frowned. “I don’t know. He’s gathered his ‘Order of the Phoenix’, but that’s all I know. Not even Sirius is telling me anything.

    Ron nodded. “My parents too, but you know mum - she won’t let us get involved.”

    Hermione felt relieved that at least the Headmaster was doing something against Voldemort. She sat down on her bed. “Have you bought your textbooks yet?”

    “All but the one for Wizarding Customs,” Harry answered.

    “The Defense teacher is a brave wizard. With the curse on the position, and You-Know-Who’s return… not many would risk teaching Defense.” Ron shuddered.

    “I’ve seen the note that the book for the new subject will be chosen later,” Hermione said.

    “Sounds like they haven’t decided yet what will be taught,” Ron said.

    “That would be extremely unprofessional.” She frowned.

    “I’ve a brochure though, with some basic outlines,” her friend said.

    “What? Where did you get it?” Hermione stood up. Why had Ron received that, and she hadn’t?

    “It came with my badge. Apparently, prefects are supposed to uphold proper etiquette as well as the school rules,” Ron said.

    “You’re a prefect?” Hermione blurted out before she could help it. She hadn’t wanted to touch that topic yet; it was still a sore subject for her, but now…

    He nodded, frowning. “Yes.”

    “I’m sorry,” Hermione hastened to say, “I was just surprised.”

    “You haven’t heard then,” Harry said.

    “Heard what?” she snapped. It was so frustrating, having to pull out every little scrap of information from her friends!

    “They passed a new educational decree, making prefect a pureblood-only position,” Ron said. “Do you think I would have been made prefect otherwise, with Harry in our year?” He scowled. “And Percy said that the only reason I was chosen as a prefect instead of Neville was that Dumbledore wanted to show his displeasure with the new decree.”

    Hermione knew that this was unfair, and that she needed to apologise, but all she could focus on right then was that limiting prefects to pureblood was a really, really bad sign.

    For the first time in her life, she started to feel uneasy about returning to school.

    *****​

    London, King’s Cross Railway Station, September 1st, 1995

    For the first time in his life, Harry Potter had mixed feelings about returning to Hogwarts. The school still was the first place he had felt at home, but he had a real home now. And a real family. His godfather, Sirius, didn’t have to hide from the law anymore, and had become his guardian.

    “Come on, Harry, we’re going to be too late to get a good compartment!” Ron shouted, pushing his trolley faster.

    “And who’s fault is that?” Hermione asked, frowning. Their friend had tried to get everyone ready to go at ten o’clock, together with Molly Weasley, but without success.

    “It’s always Sirius’s fault, of course!” his best friend yelled over his shoulder, laughing. Harry blamed the twins, personally. They were still unloading their trunks from the car, under the watchful eyes of their parents. Since Ginny’s trunk was stashed behind theirs, the youngest Weasley would be the last.

    “Hey!” Harry’s godfather protested, but he was grinning.

    Harry would miss him at Hogwarts. He had spent the last months with Sirius in Grimmauld Place, getting spoiled rotten, if he was honest. But then, both Harry and Sirius had earned it, in his opinion. Sirius had spent 12 years in Azkaban, and Harry … he didn’t want to think about his time with the Dursleys. Hopefully, the two weeks he had lived with them this Summer, until Sirius had been exonerated, would be the last time he had to see them.

    The three entered Platform 9 ¾, which was filled with wizards and witches seeing their children off. Contrary to other years, there were more Aurors around though. A reminder of Voldemort’s return. Like the Order members that had been following them discreetly.

    Harry sighed. At least, he told himself, Sirius would be happy that he was safely at Hogwarts for the rest of the year. His godfather had said that often enough so Sirius might even believe it himself, Harry hoped.

    *****​

    Hogwarts Express, September 1st, 1995

    Ron Weasley shook his head at the article he was reading. The Quibbler was as crazy as his mum had told him. ‘Wrackspurt infection in the Wizengamot’ - how did anyone come up with this? He chuckled.

    “What’s so funny?” Hermione asked, looking up from the book she was reading - ‘The Wizard’s Book to Etiquette’, he believed. It had to be better than ‘Etiquette for Witches’, Ron thought. When Hermione had been reading that tome at Grimmauld Palace, she had exclaimed and even cursed regularly, and she had been in such a bad mood, even his mum had stepped lightly around her.

    He held up The Quibbler. “A magazine published by our neighbour, Xenophilius Lovegood. His daughter is in Ginny’s year, Ravenclaw. It’s full of articles about animals no one knows. Lovegood claims they haven’t been discovered or captured yet, but mum says they’re all made up. Here, he claims that ‘Wrackspurts’ have infected the Wizengamot, causing all the new legislation to be warped.” Ron chuckled.

    Hermione didn’t seem to see the humour. She frowned, even sneered. “That would be preferable to the Ministry becoming infected with Voldemort’s ideology.”

    Ron shuddered at the name. He tried not to, but old habits die slowly, or so the saying went. He wished Hermione wouldn’t be so bitter. He understood that she was disappointed that she hadn’t been chosen as a prefect, but it wasn’t the end of the world. Dumbledore would take care of it. Just as he had taken care of Sirius’s Kiss on Sight order.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, September 1st, 1995

    “And I remind everyone among us that no matter our origin, we are wizards and witches first and foremost.”

    Albus Dumbledore let his gaze wander over the Great Hall. Some students smiled at him, some avoided looking at him, some sneered, like Mister Malfoy. And, sadly, a lot of the Slytherins. He had expected that. Many of their parents were, if not outright supporters of Voldemort, then conservative enough to take offense at anyone questioning the status quo, as most muggleborns were wont to. And that stance was not limited to the parents of House Slytherin. The appeasement campaign the Ministry was leading was not helping, of course. Albus was working against it, but he had to step lightly - Voldemort’s return from death had shaken Britain to its core. Tom’s supporters were exploiting that, asking, in confidence and even openly, if the old Headmaster was strong enough to defeat an immortal Dark Lord. Words alone were not enough to counter this, Albus knew. Not with the lingering resentment in some influential circles about the egalitarian policies he had championed since Grindelwald’s defeat. If they were at war, it would be different, he knew that. But with the Dark Lord hiding, and his mouthpieces and followers claiming they didn’t want a war, there was not much the Headmaster could do to strengthen the backbone of those wizards and witches who were still opposing Voldemort’s poison.

    He couldn’t even do as much as he wanted in his own school. Severus’s cover depended on him appearing both useful and loyal to the Dark Lord. If Albus forced him to deal with the spreading bigotry in his house - a problem he had left fester far too long, the Headmaster knew - then that would throw doubts on Severus’s ability to spy on Albus. But even if Severus was not hampered by his mission, there was another obstacle.

    He glanced at the new teacher the Ministry had sent to him. ‘The only one qualified to teach’, Cornelius had claimed. It was even true - Dolores Umbridge had written the bill instating the new subject herself, and made certain that she was the only one qualified to teach it. He knew, of course, what her real goal was: Ensure that Hogwarts fell in line with the Ministry’s policy of appeasement. He still had influence and friends in the Ministry. He did not know how exactly she was planning to do this, though. But he’d find out soon.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, September 4th, 1995

    “Hello Students, welcome to Wizarding Customs.”

    The new course was taught by Dolores Umbridge, a witch in pink robes. Ron had told Hermione Granger that she was the Undersecretary of the Minister for Magic, and supposedly was teaching the course for a year to show how important it was. She also was said to be behind a lot of the changes to the Ministry’s laws and decrees.

    “We will be learning about our most valued traditions here. Most of you will have been taught about those already by your families, but there are always a few families who fail to teach their children good manners. And of course there are those among us who come from muggle families, and never had any chance to learn how to act in proper society. This course will remedy that - but only to a point. The ministry is well aware that to truly understand our traditions, you have to grow up in a proper family, but we’ll do our best to teach you the basics.”

    Hermione raised her hand.

    “Yes, Miss…” Umbridge trailed off.

    “Granger, Professor,” Hermione answered. She thought she saw a hint of distaste flicker over the woman’s face, but the professor was quickly smiling, if a bit condescendingly.

    “What is your question? Am I talking too quickly?”

    A few of the Slytherins laughed. Hermione ignored them, with a bit of an effort. “Will the testing be taking those course aims you just stated into account?”

    “Don’t worry, you won’t fail the exam if you study diligently and apply yourself.”

    Hermione heard more laughter from the Slytherins, and had to bite back a comment.

    “Of course, for those from proper families, this should be an easy exam,” the professor continued. “Now, open your books at page two, and start reading.”

    Hermione had read the textbook already. It wasn’t written terribly well, but it was easy to read - even though the examples used every other page seemed to have come straight from the pages of some of those robe rippers Mrs Weasley claimed she did not read but Ginny said she did. Hermione had no problem with that. What she had a problem with was the subtle and not so subtle undertone in the examples, and the book. Muggles were not mentioned at all, and muggleborns only in menial positions. Or worse. And all the other books she had found showed a similar bias. It seemed as if they were written to teach muggleborns their place - serving purebloods.

    She didn’t like this, not at all.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, September 8th, 1995

    “Granger! Casting spells in the hallways is forbidden!”

    Hermione, on her way back from the library, turned around and faced Malfoy and Parkinson. Prefects Malfoy and Parkinson.

    “I wasn’t casting any spell,” she said.

    “Lying to a prefect? No wonder your kind were not deemed trustworthy enough to be prefects!” Malfoy sneered at her. “I saw you cast a spell. And Pansy did as well.”

    The sycophantic Slytherin witch nodded. She should really marry Malfoy, Hermione thought, the witch had the sneer down pat already.

    “You must have imagined it then.”

    “You also show an appalling lack of proper respect for the authorities.” Malfoy scoffed. “I’m certain a check of your wand will prove that you have cast a spell.”

    “Of course it will show that I have cast a spell! This is a school of magic, we cast spells in class!” Hermione huffed at the idiot, then saw him smile widely.

    “Ah, so you admit it. Lying, lack of respect, and casting in the hallways. Appalling behaviour, but that’s a mudblood for you. I’ll inform Madam Umbridge.” Malfoy laughed while Parkinson giggled.

    Hermione gasped, then looked around. No one else was in the hallway. No one had witnessed the scene.

    She swallowed what she wanted to say, and glared at the two Slytherins, then turned around and walked towards the teacher’s quarters. She had to speak to Professor McGonagall!

    *****​

    Hermione was in luck. Her Head of House was in her office. She was even invited inside, and could tell her story. And that was where her luck ran out.

    “There is nothing I can do there, Miss Granger. If two prefects claim you have been casting in the hallways…” The teacher looked like she had eaten something Hagrid had left out in stables for too long.

    “Don’t you believe me?” Hermione was shocked.

    “Of course I believe you! But that is not enough to overturn the word of two prefects.”

    “Two pureblood prefects against a muggleborn? I guess not.”

    “Miss Granger!” The professor was glaring at her. “If you talk like this to Professor Umbridge, you will be in even worse trouble.”

    “Professor Umbridge?”

    “She will be handling all the detentions and punishments of …” the witch hesitated.

    “Of mudbloods?” Hermione said before she could control herself.

    “Miss Granger!” McGonagall looked shocked.

    Hermione looked down, but didn’t say anything even though she knew the professor was waiting for an apology. Then she had a thought. “I can show you the memory! The Headmaster has a pensieve.” Hermione knew that from Harry.

    “He needs this for important work, Miss Granger.” The way the old witch stressed work told Hermione that it was about Voldemort.

    “It wouldn’t take long, Professor! A few minutes, at most. You know that if they can do this once, then they will do it again. They can get anyone in trouble they don’t like,” Hermione said.

    The Professor seemed to ponder this, then sighed. “Let’s visit him then.”

    *****​

    Donating a memory and watching it in the Headmaster’s Pensieve was a fascinating experience. If seeing the whole incident again hadn’t enraged her so much, she would have enjoyed it very much.

    “Now you know I haven’t been lying!”

    “Yes, Miss Granger. And I will inform Madam Umbridge about this. But I fear your detention will not be overturned,” the Headmaster said.

    “What? Why not?” How could they do this?

    “You were disrespectful to the two prefects, as the memory clearly shows,” McGonagall said. She even sounded disappointed!

    “But…” Hermione fought to keep her composure. To have been outmaneuvered like this by Malfoy and Parkinson…

    “I do hope that this will keep them from lying about such things, but they will certainly try to provoke you again,” Dumbledore said. “And I hope you will understand that my pensieve cannot be used all the time to clear up such accusations.”

    “Yes, sir. Will the two liars be punished as well then?”

    “That is, sadly, up to Madam Umbridge.” The Headmaster’s tone told Hermione that they wouldn’t be punished. “They’ll do it again then,” she said in a flat voice. And she wouldn’t be able to use the Pensieve to prove her innocence again.

    “I suggest you ask Mister Weasley to accompany you next time you would otherwise be alone. As a prefect, he will be able to vouch for you.” Dumbledore smiled.

    Had the Headmaster foreseen this, and this was why he had made Ron a prefect? Hermione couldn’t tell. But even if this would help, it galled. “So, I will need a pureblood chaperone as a witness, to be able to escape abuse.” She stiffened when she realised just how that sounded. And she felt a chill run down her spine when she realised that this was a very plausible threat too.

    “I am working on resolving the situation, Miss Granger, but it will take time. Far more than your detentions are at risk here, as you know.” The old wizard spread his hands in apology.

    “Keep your head down until then,” McGonagall added.

    “So until then those Death Eater wannabes can abuse us with impunity. Voldemort would be proud.”

    “Miss Granger!”

    Hermione mumbled an apology she didn’t really mean.

    *****​

    “Miss Granger?” Umbridge asked when she opened the door to her office. She didn’t sound sweet anymore, or condescending. She sounded pleased. “Sit down!”

    Hermione stepped inside. The room was decorated hideously with glaring pink plates with various motives, and framed pages taken from the ‘Wizarding Customs’ textbook. She sat down at the only desk there that had writing materials placed on it.

    “Hand over your wand!”

    The muggleborn witch hesitated just a second, then drew her wand and handed it over. Without it she felt vulnerable, weak, at the professor’s mercy. Just what the woman had intended, she thought.

    Professor Umbridge cleared her throat. “You’ve quite a history of infractions, Miss Granger.” She studied a scroll of parchment. “Most of it covered up, or so I hear from respectable sources. But you ran out of luck today. Disrespect. Casting in the hallways. Lying to authorities.”

    “The two prefects are the ones lying, Professor. Professor McGonagall believes me.” Hermione said, She knew she should have been quiet, but it was just too much.

    “Two prefects, from proper, respected families, lying? About a habitual rule-breaker like yourself?” The witch scoffed. “You just added to your punishment. Your habitual rules-breaking ends now.” She gestured to the parchment on Hermione’s desk. “You will be writing ‘I will not disrespect authority. I will not break rules.’ 200 times.

    Hermione blinked. Writing lines? She had expected something much worse. Snape’s detentions were infamous, after all, and Umbridge seemed… she saw the glint in the woman’s eyes, and fought not to shiver.

    “There’s no ink, ma’am.”

    “The quill gets its own ink, Miss Granger.”

    She found out quickly where the quill got its ink - each line she wrote felt as if it was carved into her flesh, written with her blood. There was no wound though, just the pain. No proof either, she realised.

    Briefly she considered running out. But the witch had her wand, and she might be waiting for that, to make the punishment worse. Grinding her teeth, she wrote on, fighting back her tears, not wanting to give the witch the satisfaction of seeing her cry.

    *****​

    “How was your detention?” Ron asked when she made it back to the Gryffindor dorms. His tentative smile vanished when he saw her. Harry, standing next to him, drew a hissing breath. She must be looking as bad as she felt, Hermione thought. But her friends had waited for her return. It made her feel better.

    “Horrible,” she started to say. “I had to write lines with an enchanted quill that made it feel as if I was carving them in my own flesh. 200 lines,” she added.

    Ron stared at her, then set his jaw. “She can’t do this!”

    Harry nodded. “We’ll tell the Headmaster.”

    “I doubt it’ll help.” She showed her hands. “See? No trace. No proof. It’ll be ‘the word of a respected teacher against a muggleborn rules-breaker’,” she said, imitating Umbridge’s voice. “Just as it was the word of ‘two prefects, from proper, respected families’ against mine,” she added, not bothering to hide how bitter she was.

    They sat down near the fireplace. Lavender, the other Gryffindor prefect, looked over to them, but a glance from Hermione had her vanish upstairs.

    “I’ll escort you from now on, like McGonagall said!” Ron declared.

    “And I’ll come with you as well.” Harry nodded.

    “Thank you.” Hermione smiled. Her friends stood with her.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, September 29th, 1995

    Another Educational Decree was displayed on the wall next to Umbridge’s office. Hermione was on the way to read it, with Harry and Ron. The three hardly ever went anywhere alone anymore, not with Malfoy, Parkinson and the other Slytherin prefects just waiting to catch Hermione or Harry alone. Others, especially muggleborns, had learned the same lesson. Sally-Anne had had a nervous breakdown during her detention. The Hufflepuffs had closed ranks, but the Ravenclaws lacked such unity. Their muggleborns were suffering.

    But those the Slytherin prefects missed, Umbridge often managed to provoke during her lessons. Justin Finch-Fletchley had taken one detention to learn to keep his head down. Hermione had, to her embarrassment, taken two until she had managed to bear the scorn and taunts from the Slytherins and the teacher, who barely bothered with hiding her sadistic glee. Seamus and Dean hadn’t completely learned that lesson yet. Gryffindors to the core.

    The three Gryffindors reached their goal. The board with the notices on it had been expanded, and the newest decree had been placed prominently in the center. Hermione read it, and couldn’t believe her eyes.

    “Only students who have achieved a passing grade at O.W.L. ‘Wizarding Customs’ will be eligible to sit their N.E.W.T.s?” She turned to Harry and Ron. “Do you know what that means?”

    Ron looked confused, but Harry seemed to have an inkling. She didn’t wait for them to understand it. “It means no one the Ministry dislikes will be able to take their N.E.W.T.s. They will not pass that exam. And you know who the Ministry doesn’t like.”

    “But… that’s Umbridge. The O.W.L.s have their own experts!” Ron said.

    “It’s a new course. Of course the Ministry gets to choose the expert for it. Just as they chose Umbridge.” She didn’t call that foul monster a teacher. Not unless she had to talk to the woman. Hermione had quickly learned to be as respectful as possible to that witch. Even if it made her madder than having to bow and scrape to Malfoy and Parkinson or suffer another detention for ‘disrespect’.

    “Dumbledore’s working on it,” Harry said. But he didn’t sound very optimistic.

    Hermione closed her eyes. This was a catastrophe. But somehow she feared that it was just the first step.

    “That’s insane! Why would they do that?” Ron asked.

    Hermione looked at him, then at the door to Umbridge’s office. She was supposed to have a lesson with the 6th years, but… “Let’s move away.”

    She started explaining once they were on a different floor. “Don’t you get it? Muggleborns are the ‘concession’ the Ministry is making to appease Voldemort. They think that if they do this, Voldemort will leave them in peace.”

    “But he won’t! Dad said he killed as many purebloods as muggleborns or half-bloods in the war!” Ron shook his head almost violently. “He wants power more than anything."

    “Of course he won’t! But he won’t do anything while the Ministry does his work for him. Each muggleborn gone, driven away, is one less supporter of the Ministry, once Voldemort attacks.” Hermione ground her teeth.

    “Dumbledore needs to stop that!” Ron exclaimed.

    “I’m certain he’s trying, but he’s not achieving much, is he?” Hermione said. Privately, she had started to wonder why the Ministry was so quick to come down on muggleborns. They must have passed more decrees and laws in the last three months than in the previous three years.

    She really had to take a closer look at those laws, she thought.

    “But… if you can’t pass that exam… will you be back next year? At Hogwarts?” Ron asked.

    Both of her friends were staring at her.

    “It only says I can’t take the N.E.W.T.s, it doesn’t ban me from attending school,” Hermione answered. She even smiled, as confidently as she could, at her two best, maybe only friends. They looked relieved, and she felt guilty at not telling them that she expected another decree following this one, one that would stipulate that only those eligible to take N.E.W.T.s were allowed to attend Hogwarts for their 6th and 7th years. Probably giving the waste of gold as a reason.

    Hermione hooked her arms through those of Harry and Ron, and tried not to think about the fact that she didn’t expect to be at Hogwarts in a year. Not unless Dumbledore managed to do whatever he was working on.

    And the longer that took, the less she thought of his chances of success.

    And with what the Ministry was doing, in the name of appeasement, she started to doubt if she even wanted to return.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, October 15th, 1995

    Hermione Granger had received the latest laws the Ministry had passed, courtesy of Sirius. She didn’t know how he had acquired them, probably through an Auror member of Dumbledore’s Order. His note had told her not to let anyone know she had them though, which was a bit worrying in itself. Not quite as worrying as the laws she had read, in the days since.

    She leaned back in ‘her spot’ in the library, waiting for either Ron or Harry to appear so they could escort her back to the dorms without Malfoy accosting her. Again.

    “Hey!”

    Harry and Ron were approaching her table. She tried to smile at them, but her mood must have been obvious, since even Ron frowned and asked: “What’s wrong? Did Malfoy do anything?” He hadn’t dared to do anything in the library, not after Madam Pince had taken great offense to anyone accosting her favorite student.

    For a moment, Hermione considered lying. Sirius had told her not to let anyone know about this. But Harry and Ron were her best friends. She wouldn’t lie to them. She pointed at the parchment on the table. “It’s those laws the Ministry passed.”

    “Oh?” The boys peered at them.

    “What about them?” Harry asked.

    Ron skimmed one. “Doesn’t seem like it’s something bad. Just a new bunch of rules.”

    She sighed. “It’s in the details. Not many of them are openly discriminatory, but each has the potential to be abused. Easily.” She pointed at the scroll he had in hand. “See there? The new hiring standards could easily be twisted to bar muggleborns. The tests for the existing staff members offer the same potential. There’s no standard testing, so it all depends on whoever does the testing. Can you imagine Umbridge passing anyone she doesn’t like? She just has to grill them on the intricacies of pureblood society until they make a mistake, no matter how tiny. Or,” she added with grim expression, “she can invent a new ‘tradition’ just to make them fail.”

    The boys winced. Hermione was certain there was no ‘specific way to hold a wand when receiving a flower bouquet after Yuletide’, as Umbridge had claimed once when testing Hermione. She was also certain the witch knew that she knew that, and had done this just to show what Hermione had to look forward to, should she dare to aspire to anything as a muggleborn. Not that she could do anything against it - the kind of ‘traditions’ Umbridge was asking about were not written down anywhere, but taught to the pureblood children by their families. The young witch had ranted and vented for an hour after that debacle.

    She took a deep breath, to the relief of her friends, and continued: “The new laws concerning businesses are less obvious, they mostly concern new standards for business with corresponding inspections, but the potential for abuse is there as well - it would be enough to simply be stricter with muggleborn-owned shops than with pureblood-owned. Or let it be known that those businesses who employed muggleborns in ‘unsuitable’ positions would face stricter and more frequent inspections.”

    Umbridge was fond of going on about suitable and unsuitable positions for the ‘witches and wizards of various backgrounds’. And Hermione suspected that she thought the only suitable positions for mudbloods were as janitors, servants, or whores.

    She looked at her two friends. “I just think that a Ministry where Umbridge is an Undersecretary will abuse those laws. Not to mention that they are requesting everyone to register their ‘blood status’.”

    “They did that already,” Ron pointed out. “Hogwarts does it too.”

    “Yes. So why make everyone do it again?” She paused a second, then went on: “They want to know where everyone lives and what they are doing.”

    “Isn’t that a bit paranoid?” Harry asked, then winced at her glare.

    “I think with Voldemort back, we all are not paranoid enough,” she shot back, gathering her notes and scrolls. “Speaking of - I got those laws from Sirius, and he asked me not to tell anyone.”

    “But why would he ask that?” Ron blinked.

    “Good question,” Hermione smiled without any humour. “Why would he ask that of me?”

    It was a very quiet trip back to the Gryffindor dorms. And Hermione hadn’t even pointed out what she thought was a subtle change in the articles appearing in the Daily Prophet lately. In her impression, a growing number of articles included things that presented muggles and muggleborns in a bad light.

    Or that she wondered if the Ministry, or Voldemort’s followers were behind those laws - or if anyone would be able to tell the difference.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, November 10th, 1995

    Dean Thomas’s right hand was trembling but he didn’t seem to notice, Hermione thought, watching her fellow Gryffindor, and fellow muggleborn, in the common room of their dorm. He was playing a muggle boardgame his mother had sent him with Seamus Finnigan, another frequent victim of Umbridge. The Irish student had a temper, and not as much self-control, and was probably the one Gryffindor that had had the most detentions with Umbridge. She hadn’t seen much of Sally-Anne Perks. That witch spent a lot of time in her bed these days, with the curtains silenced, and when she was out of the dorms, she did her best to fade in the walls.

    It wasn’t just Malfoy and the other Slytherin prefects anymore who were ‘reporting infractions’ to Umbridge. Most of House Slytherin had started to do it, after Umbridge had emphasised ‘the duty of all proper purebloods to keep an eye on the less cultured members of our society’. After that it had been open season on muggleborns. Or ‘mudbloods’, as many, even opportunists from other houses, called them openly now. Not in Gryffindor, at least. McLaggen had done so, once.

    She saw Mary Smith sitting in a corner. The sixth year muggleborn had her wand in hand, and looked ready to hex anyone who looked at her wrongly. She had been largely responsible for McLaggen learning his lesson in tolerance and house unity. The witch saw Hermione looking at her, and nodded.

    Hermione nodded back. She didn’t fear any hexes from Mary. Muggleborns understood each other. Even across houses. Sometimes you didn’t even need to speak, a nod or glance was enough. Getting persecuted by Umbridge had that effect. Most muggleborns had learned to keep their heads down by now, but that didn’t mean they had accepted their treatment. Or forgotten. Hermione certainly hadn’t. She had kept track of each detention. Each punishment. Each barb.

    But as the muggleborns were finding unexpected common ground across the houses, so were the bigots finding support in the other houses. Hermione had stopped going to the teachers to complain. They too were keeping their heads down or so it seemed. And claimed that ‘words don’t hurt’. And the Headmaster was still ‘working on it’, as Harry had heard from Sirius and Ron from his dad.

    Sometimes Hermione feared that Dumbledore would still be ‘working on it’ when the last muggleborn had been driven from Hogwarts.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, December 1st, 1995

    Hermione had thought she knew what to expect. The new Daily Prophet headline proved her wrong: ‘Muggleborn shop owner attacks Ministry Inspector, killed by Auror.’ She quickly read the article. Apparently, Mel Fuller, owner of ‘Fuller’s Boots’ in Diagon Alley, had failed a health inspection, and, in a rage, had attacked the inspector and her Auror guards, who killed him in self-defense.

    She snorted. It could be true, of course, but she doubted it. A Health Inspector failing a bootmaker shop? The shop owner attacking at least three people, two of them trained Aurors? And he was killed in self-defense, instead of stunned? As if! She shook her head. That was simply too implausible.

    But, she noticed, looking around, at least half the students seemed to believe it, judging by the amount of ‘mudblood criminal’ she heard. And judging by the glares from the muggleborns - by now she knew every muggleborn at school on sight - some were taking offense.

    She glanced at Mary. Her fellow Gryffindor had been even more eager to start a fight lately, but today she seemed to be controlling herself. Gryffindor’s table should be alright then. The Hufflepuffs wouldn’t start anything either, but the Ravenclaws…

    She almost winced when she saw spells fly. She relaxed a bit when she saw that Allan Becket was involved. The 7th year Ravenclaw was quick with his wand, and had a sharp tongue, but he generally was smart enough to let the pureblood bigot he clashed with make the first move. Flitwick broke the fight up before Umbridge could meddle, Hermione saw, and that seemed to have cooled tempers, somewhat.

    Seemed. Hermione was asking herself, not for the first time, just how much influence Voldemort had at the Ministry already. If muggleborns were now getting killed in their shops by Aurors… She stiffened when she had another thought. What if those muggleborns were attacking, but under the Imperius? All the Death Eaters had to do to poison the public opinion further against muggleborn was to make a few of them attack purebloods.

    *****​

    Diagon Alley, December 23rd, 1995

    ‘Don’t buy from mudbloods!’

    Hermione stared at the words, painted on the wall in Diagon Alley. She felt as if she had been punched into the gut. It wasn’t just the words, no matter how much they made her think of another country, in another time. It was that they were still there. Dry. Dozens of passersby had walked past that wall, and no one had done anything.

    Either they agreed with the words, or everyone who cared was too afraid to do anything. Too busy keeping their head down. She was very glad that she was wearing robes, instead of muggle clothes, right now. She hadn’t seen anyone in muggle clothes during her trip to Diagon Alley, she remembered. She wasn’t in Britain anymore, she realised. She was in another country. A country where such ugly, hateful words could be written on a public wall, and no one batted an eye. A country she didn’t want to be part of.

    “Kauft nicht bei Juden,” she mumbled, walking away. When she was at the next corner, she turned around and drew her wand.

    “Scourgify!”

    Her spell wiped away the words, and much of the grime on the wall, leaving a shiny patch of clean bricks and mortar surrounded by filth.

    A fitting image, she thought.

    But the small amount of satisfaction this granted her couldn’t push away the dread she was feeling. She knew where this country was headed. Voldemort had made his plans clear, and if the Ministry continued with their ‘appeasement’, he wouldn’t have to do much to take over Wizarding Britain and finish it.

    She had to do something. No one else was doing anything, and she wouldn’t let history repeat itself.

    She had to study, harder than ever in her life. And she had to talk to her parents.

    *****​

    London, King’s Cross Railway Station, January 12th, 1996

    “Hermione! I’m so sorry! The Headmaster has to do something about this!”

    Hermione Granger stared at Harry, not certain what he was talking about, Had she missed something?

    Ron, closing the compartment door behind them - even when staying at Sirius’s house they were almost late, Hermione thought - kept her from asking. “The new Educational Decree! If you do not pass the ‘Wizarding Customs’ test you’re not allowed to go to Hogwarts after your O.W.L.s!”

    “Oh, that.”

    “‘Oh that’?” Ron stared at her. Is that all you have to say?

    Hermione sighed. “I expected that, months ago.” She had much bigger problems than this, anyway.

    “And you didn’t tell us?” Harry sounded as hurt as Ron was looking.

    She shrugged. “Compared to what’s going on in Britain, that’s not really important.”

    “Not really important? Are you sick?”

    Ron tried to put his hand on her forehead. She slapped it away. Then she noticed that Harry was staring at her, and had his wand ready.

    She rolled her eyes. “Dear Lord. I’m not under a spell, and I’m Hermione, not a polyjuiced impostor. Ask me anything!”

    The resulting grilling took a while - almost long enough so the effect of a Polyjuice potion would have ended anyway - but her best friends finally were convinced she was their friend. Apparently, Mad-Eye Moody had been staying at Sirius’s as well.

    “So, why aren’t you, you know, more worked up about this?” Harry asked.

    “Yes. It means you won’t be with us at Hogwarts next year!” Ron looked as if he was worked up enough for three of them.

    “I told you, I expected this. And compared to what I saw in Diagon Alley, it’s really nothing.”

    “What?”

    “There were calls not to buy from muggleborns, written on the walls,” Hermione said. Harry hissed, but Ron looked puzzled, so she added: “That’s how the Holocaust started, in Germany.”

    Of course, she had to explain what the Holocaust was.

    “But… that’s insane, Hermione! That would never happen in Britain!” Ron protested, after a short but detailed introduction to the Shoa.

    “Really?” Hermione stared at him. “The Ministry is driving us away. Out of the school, out of business, out of sight. All in the name of appeasing Voldemort. Who wants to kill us all.” She leaned forward. “Do you think the Aurors will lift a finger to protect us, after they enforced those new laws? Half of them will probably help him!”

    “But… the Headmaster won’t let them do that!” Ron stared at her, desperation plain written on his face.

    “He hasn’t stopped them yet.”

    Hermione leaned back, folding her arms.

    “What can we do?” Harry asked. Ron nodded.

    “You can’t do much. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve spoken with my parents. They’re preparing to move.” And hadn’t that been a fun discussion. If her parents knew what else she was planning, it would have been even worse. But she was a Gryffindor because she was braver than she was smart - and she was the smartest witch at Hogwarts.

    Her friends looked dejected, and she patted Harry’s thigh. “It’s not yet the end of the school year. Maybe the Headmaster will come through.” She didn’t expect it. She hadn’t been at Grimmauld Place over the holiday, her preparations had taken priority, but she had written to both of them, and Harry had told her he was studying Occlumency - though the lessons he had received from Snape had sounded far more painful than the exercises she had found in a book from Knockturn Alley. She’d thought about giving him a copy, but that would mean Snape would find out during his next lesson”. Hermione didn’t want to risk that.

    And hadn’t that been telling, that she had felt safer in Knockturn Alley than in Diagon Alley?

    *****​

    Hogwarts, January 19th, 1996

    The ongoing persecution of muggleborns had one advantage, Hermione thought, watching the students file into the abandoned classroom she had prepared. No one would miss them, since everyone was used to them trying to stay out of sight. She glanced at the Marauder’s Map. No one was trailing the last stragglers either. She would have felt guilty at asking Harry to borrow the map, and to help create a diversion, if needed, if not for the importance of this meeting.

    When the door had closed behind Colin Creevey, Hermione stood up from the desk the room had created for her, and stepped on the small platform in front of it.

    “Welcome,” she said, then waited until the whispering died down.

    “I’m glad so many of us found the way to this room. We’re here because we’re all in danger. In greater danger than some of us might have realised.”

    “What do you mean?” Colin Creevey asked. “And why is Harry not here?”

    “Harry is not here because he’s ready to distract the prefects,” Hermione said. And, she added to herself, because this was a meeting of muggleborns. Harry, despite his upbringing, was not facing the same problems as they were.

    “But as to the danger we face,” she continued. “Have you been to Diagon Alley lately? Have you seen the laws passed by the Wizengamot? The decrees by the Ministry? The articles in the Daily Prophet?”

    The murmurs more or less agreed with her, she saw. But not many of them had understood what was coming. Allan had, she was certain - his expression was grim. Mary too, she thought. And Dean of course, who was nodding, with Seamus. Both had a special perspective.

    She took a deep breath. “Does all this, the calls to boycott muggleborns, the articles about muggleborns ‘killed while resisting arrest’, the purges at the Ministry, remind you of something?”

    Again Allan nodded, but most looked confused. She flicked her wand and ended the Disillusionment Charm she had cast on the board behind her, and gasps and shouts filled the room when the assembled muggleborn students saw her presentation. On the left side, she had listed the laws and decrees and calls she had seen in Wizarding Britain. On the right side, she had copied the historical documents from Germany in the 1930s. Voldemort was facing Hitler at the top.

    “Do you see where this is leading? How it will end?”

    Colin was trembling now, his brother was crying. Allan looked grim, as did Mary, Seamus and Dean. Many others were cursing.

    “They already know where we live. Where our families live. They have taken steps to ensure we’ll not get a higher education, keeping us weak. The Minister’s own Undersecretary has been torturing us, trying to break us. They have fired our Aurors. With each day, we grow weaker, and they grow stronger.”

    She paused trying to meet everyone’s eyes.

    “Until Voldemort strikes, and the Ministry looks away - or helps him - while he slaughters us and our families.” She flicked her wand, and a map of Magical Europe appeared. “If you think about leaving Britain, think again - the other countries don’t like muggleborns either.” At least not the average muggleborn. Hermione could probably get a place at Beauxbatons thanks to her talent, but she’d be one of very few, and she’d not just the mudblood, but the foreigner as well. Durmstrang didn’t even let their own mudbloods attend. And her friends and fellow muggleborns would be left in Britain.

    “But Dumbledore! He can save us!”

    She didn’t know who had said that - probably a Hufflepuff. But she scoffed in return. “He will save us, just as he has been saving us from Slytherins and other bigots? Just as he has been saving us from Umbridge?”

    “No!” she shouted over the increasing volume of whispers and curses, “We need to stop them! We need to save our families!”

    “How?” Allan spoke, for the first time. “How can we achieve what apparently not even Dumbledore can do?” He sounded sceptical, but his eyes told another story. He had understood, she knew.

    “Dumbledore is a wizard, born and raised in Wizarding Britain. Over a century ago. We’re different. We’re muggleborns. We’ve been born and raised in the real world. We know things the purebloods have no idea about. They don’t even know what electricity is!” She scoffed. “Their idea of war is a bunch of wizards casting spells at each other. That works against other wizards, or against outnumbered, helpless and surprised muggles.”

    The room was silent now. She lowered her voice slightly. “But we know how a real war is fought. A civil war.” She nodded at Seamus. “We can use magic, and we can and will use technology. When they come for us, we won’t let them slaughter us like animals. We will teach those bigoted bastards what war means.” She snarled the last words through clenched teeth while the other muggleborns shouted their agreement.

    When the students had fallen silent again, Hermione smiled. “And now, let’s start preparing for war. We’ve got a lot to cover.”

    Seamus and Dean made a show of groaning, but they were smiling, if grimly.

    “But first,” Hermione said, holding up a parchment, “We’ll ensure that no one of us can betray the others.”

    *****​

    The rest of the meeting was spent organising a training schedule - Kingsley was a good DADA teacher, but every one of them would need to be able to apparate if they wanted to escape Death Eaters, or attack them. They had to prepare plans to protect and evacuate their families. Changing addresses would hopefully be enough for most - their parents didn’t have to register, after all, being muggles. They’d have to find a way to contact the older muggleborns, especially the former Aurors and Hit-Wizards. They needed addresses, and contacts.

    And they’d have to learn how to fight like a resistance, like guerillas. They needed resources. Wands without the trace. Muggle supplies. They needed to learn how to make bombs, how to get weapons - for their families, and for themselves.

    Hermione had planned this for weeks, and had answers for a lot of questions, but not for all of them. Fortunately, she was no longer alone. There were others who knew the answers she was missing. Or, like Seamus, knew people who could help them.

    The Muggleborn Resistance had been formed.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, February 4th, 1996

    Harry Potter felt at peace, for the first time in days. He was flying in the sky above Hogwarts, alone. And he had no torture session with Snape in the evening. He had had one last night, and would have another tomorrow, but today he was free. Free of the pain and anger that was the inevitable result of those git’s ‘lessons’.

    He flew over the Black Lake, and executed a Wronski Feint. Cutting it a bit too close - the tips of his shoes dipped into the water when he pulled out of the dive. He loved it. If Hermione saw him, she’d have a fit. He chuckled, then grew serious again.

    If Harry was suffering from nightmares caused by his connection to Voldemort, which Snape’s torture didn’t seem to help against, Hermione was suffering from torture sessions by that bitch Umbridge. She wasn’t the only one, but she was his best friend, apart from Ron. Harry wished he could help her. But short of killing another teacher, he couldn’t do much. Dumbledore had been quite clear on that - the Ministry wouldn’t take interference well, and things were apparently ‘too delicate’ right now to risk a confrontation. The Headmaster claimed he had a plan, but refused to share details, and each time Harry saw Hermione walk back from a detention, cradling her hand and trying not to show her pain, he lost a bit more confidence in Dumbledore.

    And each time he saw her like that, hurt and vulnerable, he wanted to hug her and console her, and maybe something more. His relationship, if he could call it that, with Cho wasn’t going anywhere. She was still hung up on Cedric, and while Harry couldn’t fault her for that, he really didn’t want to serve as a hug pillow, as Ron called it, for a witch in mourning. Not to mention that Cho didn’t get along well with Hermione.

    And if he had to choose between Cho and Hermione, well… it wasn’t a choice, not really. He’d do anything to help her. So would Ron, Harry knew - they had an understanding. In that, at least.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, February 25th, 1996

    Hermione closed ‘On Guerrilla Warfare’, disguised as a tome on magical plants. Mao had been successful, but not all of his lessons were applicable to the situation of the muggleborns. Though his advice on hiding among the population… that fit right in. The wizards would have trouble finding a muggleborn among the muggles. She looked at the next book on her pile. She had taken a lot of books, magical and mundane, with her. Including documentation on a number of the latest terrorist attacks. One of those, the one in Oklahoma, stood out - that one had not been done with commercial explosives.

    Apparition training was going well, for the older students at least. Allan was not the best teacher, but he understood the matter perfectly, and he could deal with any accidents. She made a note to prepare more potions, and learn healing spells. That would mean another trip to Knockturn Alley over Easter.

    The door to the common room opened, and Harry stumbled inside. He looked like hell warmed over, as Dean would say. She was up and at his side in a heartbeat, holding out a pain relief potion.

    Her friend nodded gratefully and gulped it down. “Snape’s killing me with his lessons.”

    “Do they at least help with the nightmares?” She had researched the matter, and while Snape’s method was said to be the quickest to learn Occlumency, it was also the most painful - and most prone to failure. And the only one that let the instructor enter the student’s mind. Which was the reason she hadn’t told her friends about the Muggleborn Resistance. Or not what it really was. Ron and Harry thought it was a support group for muggleborns. Maybe. She was aware that they knew her too well and might suspect she was doing something more than exchanging advice with fellow muggleborns.

    “Somewhat,” Harry said. “Ron still on patrol?”

    “He’s still with Lavender,” Hermione said. Probably on patrol, unless the girl had made her move, as she had heard Parvati calling it, one evening the other two girls had thought she was already asleep behind the curtains of her bed.

    “Ah.” Harry didn’t say anything. His own pursuit of Cho had ended in dismal failure. She would have told him that, if she had thought it would do any good.

    “Come on, let’s sit down and wait for Ron.”

    “How’s your hand?”

    “It’s fine,” Hermione answered. Malfoy had managed to get her into detention yesterday. It had been painful, but Hermione had found some consolation in the knowledge that while Umbridge tried to break the Muggleborns, they were growing closer, and more prepared for the coming conflict. The worse that sadist treated them, the more determined the muggleborns grew.

    The two made some idle chat - a welcome relief from the lingering pain of Snape’s lesson for Harry, and a distraction from her planning she knew she needed for Hermione - until Ron and Lavender returned. Hermione was about to subtly check them for telltales of making out, but Lavender’s frustrated expression and curt ‘good night’ told her all she needed to know.

    Ron sat down in the seat next to them, sighing.

    “Bad patrol?” Harry asked.

    Ron shook his head. “No. Yes. I don’t know. Lavender is …”

    “Lavender is?” Hermione asked, curious despite herself.

    “Well, I’d rather be patrolling with you.”

    “You would?” Hermione was surprised. She would have expected her friend to be happy to patrol with a pretty witch who didn’t take rules as seriously as Hermione used to.

    Ron nodded.

    “Even though I’d make you work much harder in her place?” Hermione said, half-teasing.

    “Well… maybe?” Ron grinned, and the three laughed.

    For the rest of the evening, Hermione felt as things were back to how they had been. Though she didn’t know if Ron wanting to patrol with her meant something, or not.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, March 4th, 1996

    “Are you listening to me?” Lavender Brown asked.

    Ron Weasley looked at his fellow prefect. She was pouting. He smiled, and tried to sound as sincere as he could. “Of course. Just checking if there’s someone lurking around. I think I heard something.”

    He hadn’t been listening to Lavender. He had been thinking. About his friends. They were not doing well. Harry was having frequent nightmares, despite - or, Ron thought, because - Snape’s lessons in Occlumency. Hermione had said the method Snape had chosen to teach Harry was the quickest, but not the most successful. To think Voldemort - he could think the name now, though saying it still was a bit difficult - could invade Harry’s dreams to torment him… he shuddered.

    “Are you cold?” Lavender asked, stepping closer to him.

    “No, no. I just remembered the last Potions lesson.”

    That made the witch shudder, and stop trying to wrap her arm around him. Ron was relieved. He didn’t dislike the witch. It was even flattering that she was obviously interested in him. But he wasn’t interested in her. Not in being her boyfriend, at least. And he was not the type of wizard to use a witch who liked him. Mum had raised him better than that, and Hermione would be furious at him if she found out. And disappointed.

    And he really didn’t want to disappoint Hermione. The poor girl was suffering. Ron felt enraged just thinking at what she was enduring from those Slytherin slimebags, and that ugly toad. He wanted to help her, prove he was a good friend, be there for her, but… she wouldn’t let him, not much. She had become rather closed-off, lately. Moodier than Harry, even. And she spent more time with the other muggleborns than with Ron and Harry. He didn’t like that, even though he understood she needed to.

    His friend wasn’t one to tolerate injustice. Or what she saw as it. Buckbeak, house elves, Sirius… she had thrown herself into helping them, no matter if they wanted it or not. At least the muggleborns wanted her help. Whatever kind of help she was giving them.

    He wasn’t dumb. Hermione was brilliant, but scary, and he knew her well enough to know that she was doing more than holding hands and consoling students. He just didn’t know how much more she was doing. And he didn’t know if he wanted to know.

    But he was jealous anyway. She was his best female friend, after all. And he didn’t want to lose her. Not when he was not certain if she might be more than that.

    *****​

    London, No 12, Grimmauld Place, April 4th, 1996

    “Hermione, what a surprise! You should have called ahead though, Harry’s off visiting Ron at the Burrow.”

    Hermione Granger nodded. “I know, Sirius. I’m here for you.” They had told her their plans, after all.

    Sirius flashed her an exaggerated smile. “Why, Miss Granger, that’s quite daring of you! I knew you’d not be able to resist me forever!” He waved her inside, laughing when she rolled her eyes at him.

    Inside the entrance hall, Kreacher was waiting, scowling. “Mudbloods in the halls of the Black’s ancestral house! What a shame! To have them dirty up those floOOOF.”

    The foul little cretin smashed into the wall hiding the portrait of Sirius’s mother, with permanent Silencing Spells on every brick around her. Hermione lowered her wand and stepped closer, crouching down next to the stunned elf.

    “Call me ‘mudblood’ once again, and I’ll petrify you, and then donate you to a muggle garden, do you understand?” she snarled at him. When he didn’t answer at once, she dug her wand into his throat. “Do you understand?”

    The house elf nodded shakily. Satisfied, she stood up. Sirius was staring at her, and she blushed a bit. “I’m sorry, but… too many have called me mudblood this year.” She should feel guilty for hexing the poor house elf who didn’t know better, but she didn’t. Kreacher should know better too.

    Sirius waved her apology away. “Don’t worry, he had it coming. Remind me not to tease you though.” More seriously, he asked: “Are things really that bad?”

    Hermione snorted. “Worse. That’s why I’m here.”

    “And that’s why you came when Harry was with Ron?”

    She nodded. “They have their own troubles, with those sadistic lessons for Harry, and Ron’s family…” she trailed off. Everyone knew that Ron’s father had been demoted because he liked muggles, even though the official reason didn’t state so.

    Sirius nodded, and led her to the salon. They sat down and the older wizard summoned two bottles of butterbeer. No glasses, but Hermione wasn’t complaining.

    “So, what do you need an old wizard who has just recovered from more than a decade in prison for?” He asked while toasting her.

    “Money. Gold,” Hermione said.

    That made him blink. “Err…”

    “I’ll need your word that you will not tell this to anyone, before I can explain,” she added.

    Sirius hesitated. “That sounds dangerous.”

    She nodded. He would cave in, she knew that. Besides, he owed her for saving his life, in their third year.

    After a bit, he nodded. “You have my word. Now spill!”

    And Hermione explained about the Muggleborn Resistance. Not everything, of course. But enough so he’d know what the gold would be used for. Buying wands on the black market. Securing safe houses. Acquiring supplies, for potions and other things. Relocating families.

    He listened, both bottles empty before she stopped. She was certain he’d agree - the Blacks were among the richest families in Britain, and he had spent half the sum she needed, according to her estimates, on Harry’s firebolt.

    “That’s not all you need the gold for though, right?”

    He was also smarter than he liked to appear, she reminded herself. She nodded. “Yes. I’m also planning to strike at the enemy.”

    “The Death Eaters?” He asked, his eyes not leaving hers.

    “Anyone who wants to see muggleborns dead,” she answered, meeting his gaze without flinching.

    After a few moments, he nodded. “Can’t say I don’t understand, after Azkaban.” He stood up. “I’ll fetch the gold. Do you need an enchanted purse as well?”

    “Two or three, if possible,” she said at once - those could be used for other purposes as well.

    He grinned. “I’ll be right back.”

    Hermione smiled, relieved. Now she just had to start acquiring those supplies. Though she had a feeling that Sirius might be able to help her there as well. He had, according to himself, had a misspent youth, after all.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, April 28th, 1996

    “You never learn, do you, Miss Granger? You keep breaking rules. It’s a habit for you, isn’t it? Not that this should surprise me, given your unfortunate origin. Blood will tell.”

    Hermione Granger stared at the ground, avoiding the gaze of the bigoted sadist masquerading as a teacher. Umbridge had stepped up her efforts after the Easter break. The witch had at least one student in detention each evening. Sally-Anne had spent two nights crying after her detention, and the girl hadn’t done anything. Just like Hermione - ‘disrespecting authority’ apparently now meant not moving fast enough to the side when purebloods came along, even though she had been in a hallway wide enough for everyone to pass, with room to spare for a whole column. If the Weasley twins had not stepped up their undeclared prank war against the Slytherins, Hermione was certain someone would have lost it, and killed one of the snakes or other bigots by now. Dumbledore had to know that as well - he had personally taken over the twins’ punishment, if you could call sitting in his office and listening to tales of his life that.

    “Answer me!”

    “Yes, Madam Umbridge,” Hermione said, forcing herself not to let her anger show.

    “A hundred lines! Maybe then you will learn.”

    She gripped the quill with a trembling hand and started writing, hissing with pain as she felt a blade cut in her flesh. They had tried everything to beat the quill. Numbing the hand before the detention didn’t help. Invisible gloves didn’t help. Lotions didn’t help. Hermione was certain that the quill used a variant of the Torture Curse, since nothing could stop the pain, or relieve it afterwards. She had told McGonagall, and Shacklebolt, but nothing had been done.

    While she tried to ignore the pain, she glanced at the witch. Umbridge was smiling widely. She was a sadist, Hermione realised. No matter what she or anyone else would do, that monster would keep torturing them. She hated that woman so much, if she had had her wand on her, she’d have hexed her and damn the consequences.

    Umbridge would pay for her crimes, the young witch swore.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, June 1st, 1996

    ‘Dumbledore duels You-Know-Who in Ministry!’

    When Hermione Granger saw that headline on the Daily Prophet an owl had dropped off at the table in the Great Hall during breakfast, she immediately looked at her best friends, which were just arriving. “Did you know about this?” Both looked tired, and for a moment Hermione wondered if they had been involved. Without her.

    Both looked guilty.

    “Sirius told me late last night,” Harry admitted. Through his communication mirror, no doubt. “The Order fought the Death Eaters there.”

    “Harry told me. I needed to know about my family,” Ron added. His two eldest brothers were in the Order as well. “You were already asleep.”

    Hermione huffed, but she couldn’t exactly encourage them to try to get to her when she was in bed, could she? She read the article. It was light on information, and heavy on speculation. Dumbledore claimed it had been an attempt to take over the Ministry. An attack. Fudge was calling every wizard and witch to remain calm until the situation was resolved - and claimed it was under control.

    “I’ve been dreaming of him, you know,” Harry whispered.

    “Yes,” said both Hermione and Ron.

    “I saw him last night. In the Ministry. But not in the atrium. In a hallway, with a massive door at the end.”

    So much for the Occlumency lessons, Hermione thought. She would send him a copy of her own training plan and instruction manual, even if it would take him longer.

    “Do you think this means we’re at war with Voldemort now?” Ron sounded hopeful.

    “Maybe,” Harry ventured.

    “It’s too early to tell, I think.” Hermione felt hope. If Dumbledore had saved the Ministry, or had managed to make them believe that, then those awful laws could be repealed. She would be able to return to Hogwarts next year. Be with her best friends.

    It wouldn’t be as before though. Too much had happened. Too many students had been revealed as bigots. Too much harm had been done. At Hogwarts, and in Wizarding Britain. She’d never be able to trust that Ministry again. Not after this year.

    If the laws and decrees were repealed. The O.W.L.s would start next week.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, June 9th, 1996

    Hermione Granger left the examination room with her head held high and an expression on her face that sent anyone nearby seeking cover. Anyone but Ron and Harry, and even her two friends hesitated just a second before approaching her.

    But they did approach her, hug her, and tried to console her. They didn’t need to ask how the Wizarding Customs exam had gone.

    “Don’t worry. Dumbledore will have the laws repealed over Summer. We’ll all be together next year!” Ron said. He didn’t sound that convincing though. Or convinced.

    Hermione snorted. “They’re still debating who attacked the Ministry. Malfoy’s cronies claim that it was a trap for the Dark Lord.” Which she strongly suspected was true. “I doubt they’ll get around to repeal the anti-muggleborn laws until they finally admit that Voldemort is an enemy.” And that, she suspected, would take a long time.

    They passed Malfoy and his cronies, and Hermione did her best to not react to their taunts. Even if she had to clench her jaws together so hard, it started to hurt. And Harry had to restrain Ron from hexing the bigot.

    They didn’t go far. Harry and Ron still had to take their exam. But they stepped around the corner, out of sight of the other students.

    “I expected that,” she said, leaning against the wall. “I told you so, right when Umbridge managed to stay at the school.”

    “She’ll be gone next year. She’s apparently ‘urgently needed’ at the Ministry again,” Ron spat.

    “Your dad’s demotion wasn’t reversed either, was it?” Hermione looked at her friend.

    “No. Dad says they have more important things to worry about than his career.”

    “It sounds as if a lot of ‘not so important’ things are getting sacrificed, while nothing ‘important’ is gained.” She took a deep breath. “I’ll be fine. You have your exams still ahead. Don’t let Malfoy unnerve you.”

    “They could make us fail as well,” Harry said, looking morose.

    “The Boy-Who-Lived and a Weasley? No one would believe that. Or accept it.” Even though Harry knew far less about Wizarding Customs than herself.

    Her two friends looked away, probably feeling guilty for not having been born to muggles. She patted them on their shoulders. “Come on, go and blow them away! Do it for me!”

    They’d be much safer at Hogwarts, Hermione knew, in the months to come.

    She watched them go back to the waiting area, smiling. Then she turned around and started towards the Gryffindor dorms.

    A voice coming from a dark alcove stopped her. “Failed?”

    It was Allan. “As expected,” she said, glancing at him.

    “So, nothing has been changed.” He sounded almost happy.

    She shook her head. Dumbledore had wanted to start a war against Voldemort, had he? They’d give him what he wanted.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, June 16th, 1996

    Dolores Umbridge was smiling when she entered her office. The year teaching those stupid children was finally over. If she had known how much work it took to make the mudbloods behave and obey their betters… she sighed. If the mudbloods acted uppity, it would provoke those among the purebloods with less patience, and might even start the war everyone wanted to avoid. Even the mudbloods were subjects of Wizarding Britain, after all, and you could only overlook so much before the power of the Ministry was threatened.

    It had been hard, but someone had had to do it, and she had been the best choice. And, Merlin!, she had done it, for Cornelius, and for Britain. She hadn’t been completely successful. Some mudbloods still hadn’t learned their place, like that Granger girl. Malfoy had warned Dolores that the girl had no respect at all for tradition or purebloods - although the son of Lucius Malfoy wasn’t the best source for unbiased information, and had clearly wanted to ingratiate himself with her. But Snape had warned her as well, had told her that the girl was a habitual trouble-maker, breaking rules, flaunting them, and was protected by McGonagall and Dumbledore. And Snape was Dumbledore’s man. To tell her this meant that the girl was even worse. But now she was gone, from Hogwarts at least. She wouldn’t ever set foot into those halls again, not as long as Dolores had a say in who took the exams for ‘Wizarding Customs’.

    “Petrificus Totalus.”

    The curse hit her before she realised what was happening. Stiff as a board, she fell down.

    She tried to see who had dared to curse her, but she only saw the floor. Then she heard footsteps coming closer.

    “Wingardium Leviosa.”

    She was levitated, no, her robe was, pulling her up, and she was floating towards her quarters, behind her office. Someone had covered the floor with a weird transparent material, she saw, before she was dropped on it, and not too gently.

    “Good evening, Madam Umbridge.”

    She couldn’t place the voice. Male, none of the teachers… a student! Attacking a teacher! Dolores couldn’t believe it. That criminal would pay! Azkaban at least!

    “I’ve taken the liberty to prepare your room. Wouldn’t want the furniture to get dirty, would we?”

    What was he talking about? Dolores started to get more worried than angry. This didn’t look like a prank, or even… no!

    Something metallic hit the floor next to her head. She could see it if she glanced to the side, it looked like some metal piece on a stick.

    “I don’t think you recognise this. It’s a golf club. A piece of muggle sporting equipment. It used to be your favorite quill, by the way.” The ‘club’ was pulled out of her sight.

    “You’ve spent a year torturing all of us. Today you pay.”

    He was a mudblood! Dolores wanted to yell, to scream for help, to flee. She couldn’t. She was helpless.

    “They’ll never find your body.”

    Then the blows started.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, June 17th, 1996

    Hermione Granger looked over the Great Hall during breakfast, feeling both sad and angry. She was leaving Hogwarts for the last time today. She looked at the Slytherin table, where Malfoy and his cronies - most of the table - were sneering at her. They thought they had won.

    They were wrong. She would study on her own. So would the other muggleborns. If Wizarding Britain didn’t want them, then they’d create a society of their own. And they would be ready if the purebloods took offense at that. More than ready.

    She looked at the staff table. Umbridge was not present, she noted. That was unusual; she would have expected the toad to be there to gloat. At least her last meal at Hogwarts wouldn’t be spoiled further by that sadist bigot’s presence. It was just a small consolation though. The witch glanced at the Ravenclaw table. Allan was sitting there.

    He met her eyes and smiled.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2016
  3. RedX

    RedX Know what you're doing yet?

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    Well. I wasn't expecting to leap right into assassination, but it- and the discussion of truckbombs and Mao- has certainly set the tone for this story. Looking forward to more!
     
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  4. Pahan

    Pahan Know what you're doing yet?

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    Glad to see this story getting started as Patron winds down. It looks like you already posted this on FF.net, but a few comments/suggestions anyway:

    I know the society is different and all, but this bit struck me as a bit http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Anvilicious: the bad guys aren't just power-hungry, bigoted, craven, and occasionally sadistic and genocidal, they're sexist too. IMO, it would have worked better to create an onerous, pseudo-Victorian etiquette that was actually gender-neutral.

    Why is it always "abandoned classroom"? It's never "unused classroom" or "free classroom", or anything else that doesn't make it sound like half the classrooms in Hogwarts are structurally unsound and have to be abandoned. ;)

    My headcanon: yes, they are, in fact, structurally unsound. As a safety measure, Hogwarts's walls are charmed to attract and absorb miscast spells, because the alternative is them hitting students. (It doesn't always work, but when a miscast spell hits a wall, it's not exactly an event Harry would note.) Over time, the walls accumulate spell damage, and a classroom is abandoned for a few years so that it could heal.

    Is this supposed to be read as "Apparition training [by the official instructors] was going well", or is it supposed to be read as Allan teaching them Apparition? If so, where? (Unless, Apparition is allowed on Hogwarts grounds in this AU.)

    A bit inconsistent with canon, but an understandable deviation. (It makes it a bit too easy for the good guys, IMO, but then, Hermione in particular turns 17 in September 1996, so the point is moot.)

    I wonder if it might be a good idea to have A/N at the end that lists deliberate deviations from canon. (E.g., preempt the "Why didn't they use an Unbreakable Vow?" by actually writing that those don't exist in this AU.)
    I'd think Allan (if it's him, which seems to be what you're hinting) would cast that nonverbally.
    Made me think of Dexter. Then, it occurred to me that a wizard might just be able to conjure plastic to cover all surfaces of the room, rather than just a floor, then Scourgify before vanishing. What do you think?
     
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  5. Pahan

    Pahan Know what you're doing yet?

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  6. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    This Hermione likes being prepared for the worst case. And she can imagine a really bad "worst case". I think it's weird (and a god damned shame) that Umbridge wasn't killed in canon by the centaurs.

    Shoot.

    Robe Rippers I used as a stand-in for "books witches like to read full of steamy romance and borderline porn". Hermione thinks the examples used in the book sound as if taken from those books, meaning, they are formulaic, and sound familiar - sexism doesn't come into it at all; witches certainly don't read muggle romances where weak women need strong men to protect them. I just wanted a hint at the book's co-author's usual work.

    "Abandoned" evokes the feeling that things were different, better in the past. After Grindelwald's War and the first Blood War, I assume populations took a bit of a nose dive. I don't think it has anything to with structural soundness - just with the need or lack of need for classrooms. A building as old as Hogwarts feels better with entire parts "abandoned", left to explore and discover secrets within, rather than put on "unused" and cleaned twice a week.

    Allan is teaching them apparition, and outside Hogwarts (in small groups). I didn't consider the location that important.

    I've already got a story running where the magic detection grid is used and underground fighters have to deal with it; I don't want to repeat myself. The trace explains how the Ministry kept track of underage magic in this story.

    I don't think that's needed. For example, most people who care about canon to that degree don't mind that the Unbreakable Vow was never used in canon for anything than protecting Draco. In the same vein, I don't recall anyone asking why house elves were not used for this or that in "Patron", for example, despite my nerfing of them not being that obvious.


    Spells cast verbally are more powerful in this story. And Allan likes showing off.

    That's how I imagined it. Dolores' POV was a bit limited. I never saw Dexter though.

    It's purely an effect of the lighting. The model, skin tone included, is the exact same for all other cover pictures.
     
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  7. Pahan

    Pahan Know what you're doing yet?

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    OK, that makes sense. One thing that occurred to me is that wizards might have one etiquette textbook for wizards and witches, whose contents change based on who is reading them.
    Fair enough. I still like my headcanon better.

    Ah. Hogsmeade weekends?

    Ah, so in this AU, they can track non-underage magic as well, by the wands?

    Sure, but he's just trying to lift about 70 kilograms here. I'd also think that doing magic nonverbally is showing off.

    If Allan turned her over while putting her down, she could have gotten a view of the floor and the ceiling. Could be (even more) evocative.
     
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  8. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    No. Sneaking out - it's not as if that's hard. Especially if half the school wants them gone anyway. And the forest is rather close. I really didn't think that was important enough to mention.

    In this story, the trace is just for tracking underage magic. They cannot track magic, actually, outside obscure forms like the taboo. The Obliviators are actually guided by seers, Minority Report style, and plan in advance for deployment to any threat to the Statute of Secrecy. And only to a threat to the SoS. Two wizards turning a forest into a fire in a duel won't trigger a "response" as long as no witness is around who could see actual magic and report it. Which means that the Obliviators in this story out-unspeakable the Unspeakables in that they do not get involved in politics, not even war, and only answer to the ICW. It fits with my "the SoS was created because all the seers in all the countries foresee that if it wasn't, the world would end" headcanon, and it also explains the sheer number of prophecies in the Hall of Prophecies - almost all of them are warnings of a threat to the SoS.

    Consider it the "cocking the hammer, even though that's not needed or possible with most firearms" noise you see in all action movies.

    It's evocative enough - I cut the scene down from the original, which was rather gory.
     
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  9. Blargh

    Blargh I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Wow this story is looking like its going to be good, I loved Patron, and now I'm going to go and read your older stories as well. You hint at both possible Hermione/Ron and Hermione/Harry relations, I am interested if either of hose will come about.
    I think this is the scene that most viscerally brings home how angry Hermione is, nice job.

    Sirius helping Hermione was interesting, and in the future he might be her only way of contacting Harry and Ron, as they could both be watched, Ron doesn't know occlumency , and Harry's is imperfect.

    Allan feels like he is going to be one of the fighters who go to far in the war to come. It will be interesting to see Hermione balance atrocities against each other. I wonder who the other leaders of the mudblood resistance will be, I feel like most of them should be adults.
     
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  10. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Good eye there. Their relationships will be complicated, but hopefully plausible and entertaining.

    Originally, Hermione was the one to kill Umbridge. But it ended up too soon for her for such a brutal killing, even with all the torture she endured.

    Sirius is a key figure. A very rich pureblood, with a very deep grudge against the Ministry and blood purists. He is one of the few purebloods who'd have no regret at all if the Ministry and most of the purebloods went down in flames since he doesn't give a damn about Wizarding Britain as a whole. He only cares about some people.

    Well spotted with regards to Allan. Hermione's ruthless, but also very idealistic. She'll be like the Western Allies in WW2, as far as the line she won't cross is concerned. Others will be more like the Red Army in WW2. Or worse.

    With regards to other muggleborn leaders, so far there's as far as the kids know, just their Resistance. They're looking for more recruits, of course, and have plans down the line. Should more adults be recruited, then they'll be likely to provide most of the leaders. And conflict about who gets to call the shots is also likely.
     
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  11. Pahan

    Pahan Know what you're doing yet?

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    What lines did the Red Army cross that Western Allies didn't?
     
  12. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Soviet War Crimes. The Katyn massacre is one of the most famous atrocities.
     
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  13. Pahan

    Pahan Know what you're doing yet?

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    In context, I thought you were talking about the lines they would or wouldn't cross in pursuit of military goals, whereas most of Soviet atrocities that I know of were either orthogonal to that (looting, rape) or motivated by ideology and Soviet-style social engineering (Katyn).

    Mind you, I am sure that if the Soviets had the quantities of heavy bombers that the British and the Americans had --- and, for that matter, atomic bombs --- they would have used them no differently. (And, for the record, I am not saying that those were war crimes, but they were "lines crossed".)
     
  14. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Oh, yes. But how differently the Western Allies and the Soviets treated civilians and POWs illustrates the line Hermione will likely not cross nicely. She won't balk at "acceptable collateral damage", but she'll not condone rape or abuse of prisoners, for example.
     
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  15. Pahan

    Pahan Know what you're doing yet?

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    I am not sure what the crux of the difference is, then... Would the more "Red Army" members of MR abuse prisoners for fun, while the more "Western Allies" ones wouldn't?

    That said, I can see some MR members wanting to make a statement by "contaminating the pure blood"...

    There's also generally using kidnapped family members as hostages, though if you want a Red Army analog for that, you need to go back to the Russian Civil War.
     
  16. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    One of the differences, yes.
     
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  17. Threadmark: Chapter 2: The Fugitive
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Chapter 2: The Fugitive

    ‘Historians still debate whether the Dark Lord truly attempted to raid the Ministry on May 31st, 1996. While there is no doubt that he used the ‘Year of Appeasement’ to build up his forces, this act seems premature. His influence both in the Wizengamot as well as in key departments had grown considerably during that year. A ‘peaceful takeover’ had become very likely. Only a very reckless wizard - which the Dark Lord wasn’t - would have jeopardized that by breaking into the Ministry. So why did he break in at night? Why did he fight Dumbledore? And why was Dumbledore present? All we know is that Dumbledore ‘expected this’, as he stated in the Wizengamot’s emergency session. Following that famous duel, the opinion in the Wizengamot shifted, and the appeasement policy of Minister Fudge lost crucial supporters. If not for the controversy about the disappearance of Dolores Umbridge from Hogwarts a few weeks later, the appeasement policy as well as the muggleborn laws might have been repealed completely.
    - Excerpt from ‘The Second Blood War’ by Hyacinth Selwyn


    *****​

    Hogwarts, June 17th, 1996

    Albus Dumbledore stood at the window in his office and watched the students leave his school and board the carriages that would take them down to the train station in Hogsmeade. Usually, he’d smile at the sight of children returning to their families after a year at Hogwarts. Not today though. He had too much on his mind. Too much worry about. Too many of the children in the yard below him were facing an uncertain, even dangerous future.

    After Tom had fallen for his trap two weeks ago, he had been certain that he could turn the Ministry around. The Dark Lord, breaking into the Ministry, trying to plunder the vaults of the Department of Mysteries, showing his true colours… it had been a perfect setup.

    And yet it had failed. Not completely, no. Too many Wizengamot members took offense at such a crass, crude display of contempt for the Ministry for that. The increase in Aurors and Hit-Wizards he and Amelia had fought for had finally been granted. But the repealing of the muggleborn laws he had hoped for had not happened. Lucius was blocking his efforts with proposals for even stricter laws, to ‘preserve order in these confusing times’. Albus had underestimated the number of bigots who would rather see the Dark Lord grow in power than restore the rights of muggleborns taken away by Cornelius’s policies. He shouldn’t have, Albus thought. In hindsight, it was obvious just how deep the rot went, just how many wizards and witches truly believed the lies of blood purity. The ease with which the new laws had been accepted. The eager compliance many showed when presented with the new rules. The hatred shown, on the streets, in the Ministry, and even at Hogwarts.

    He had been blinded by his faith in people, and his need to keep up the spirits of his friends might have led to him lying to himself, partially. And his own vanity, of course - he had not wanted to admit that he had so little to show for, after decades in the Wizengamot. That despite his reputation and influence, he had not succeeded in changing the hearts and minds of the purebloods.

    Sometimes Albus wondered if Britain was a country worth defending anymore. He was certain that most of the Wizengamot were in favour of a harder stance against the Dark Lord now not because it was the right thing to do, but because they had realised that they would lose their power should Tom take over. As long the Death Eaters were not attacking ‘Blood Traitors’ and the Ministry, the leaders of Wizarding Britain were all too ready to sacrifice the muggleborns.

    And yet, he couldn’t abandon Britain. Not while there were innocents and good people left. Not when people put their trust in him. Not when people were ready to risk their lives even, to fight against the Dark Lord. How could he do any less?

    But he had to reconsider his plans. Question them, even. He couldn’t afford more mistakes. Too much was at stake. The Order had been preparing for the war against Voldemort he knew was coming, gathering supplies, preparing safehouses, training, and recruiting. With the needed care and caution, of course - Pettigrew had shown all too tragically how much damage a single spy could cause. Albus had planned to focus on muggleborns, since they would be the least likely to turn traitor, but many of them seemed to have lost their trust in him, or had disappeared before they could be contacted.

    Below him he saw Mister Malfoy board a carriage, in the company of Miss Parkinson, followed by Messrs Crabbe and Goyle. He knew how they had abused their positions as prefects this year. Knew it, but had not stopped more than the worst excesses. Had it been a wise decision to let Severus protect them and the others like them, all those years? The professor had gained the trust of their parents as a result, and the trust of the Dark Lord - as much trust as Tom was able to show, at least. But it had also resulted in almost a generation of Slytherin students learning that bigotry was acceptable. A lesson they had learned all too well, as the last few months had shown. And which had spread to other houses too. Dolores had had an ample base of support to draw from. And, he added, so had the Dark Lord.

    Thinking of Dolores… he would have expected her to have shown up already. She had made no secret about her desire to leave Hogwarts and return to the Ministry as soon as possible during their last meeting.

    He wasn’t looking forward to meeting that disgusting witch again. But he was glad Hogwarts would be rid of her. And he would do what he could to ensure that her successor would not continue her work.

    And no matter how long it took, he would see muggleborns return to Hogwarts for their N.E.W.T.s. Seeing a prodigy like Miss Granger outperform all the purebloods in her year was one of the best ways to disprove the ideas of blood purity.

    *****​

    London, King’s Cross Railway Station, June 17th, 1996

    There were more Aurors present when the Hogwarts Express entered the station than usual, Hermione Granger noticed. They were meant to ensure the safety of the students and their parents, but she didn’t feel safe. She knew she was just a mudblood for many of the red-robed wizards and witches. Her parents couldn’t even step on the platform. Scoffing, she stood up and turned away.

    “Let me,” Ron said, taking her trunk down for her.

    “Thank you.” She smiled at him.

    “And here’s Crookshanks,” Harry said, presenting her with her pet.

    “Thanks, Harry.” She kept smiling, even though she felt more like crying. Judging by the glances the two boys exchanged, she hadn’t managed to hide her feelings.

    “Dumbledore will get those laws repealed. Or he’ll find a rule that lets him decide who gets to attend and who doesn’t,” Harry said.

    Ron nodded. “It’s over two months away, plenty of time for it.” With a slightly forced grin he added. “You’ll have read all the books for next year in that time anyway.”

    Hermione chuckled at that, for a moment. Then she couldn’t hold her tears back any longer and hugged them, hard. She just knew she wouldn’t return in the fall. Dumbledore might try, but he’d fail. He couldn’t change a country that allowed what she had seen, and suffered through. She felt the two stiffen, and awkwardly pat her back while she sobbed.

    “You’ll visit during the summer, right?”

    That Ron asked, rather than stated it told her enough about what he really thought, but she nodded. “Yes, of course.” She would, but she didn’t know how long she would be able to.

    “It’ll be much easier, now, with me living with Sirius,” Harry said. “You can easily reach Grimmauld Place, and Ron can Floo in.”

    “Something good that has come of this whole…” Ron swallowed what he had been about to say. “No more Dursleys for you.”

    Hermione nodded, even though she wasn’t certain if, all things considered, the loss of the blood protection Harry’s mother had granted him was worth leaving that abominable household. It would have been better, she thought, if Voldemort hadn’t been rendered immune to it by using Harry’s blood for his resurrection. But that couldn’t be changed, and so it was better to focus on the positive result of that. And she would have to visit Sirius anyway. His gold was needed.

    She stepped back, and cleaned her face with her wand. She grinned, but without humour. “That’s another good thing: With me not allowed to return to Hogwarts, I’m no longer considered an underage witch out of school.” No more trace for her. Dumbledore had managed that, at least.

    “Would you hex me if I say I’m jealous?” Ron asked, semi-seriously.

    “Maybe,” she answered, sticking out her tongue.

    “I should be jealous,” Harry cut in. “I’m going to be living with Sirius, and I’m not allowed to use my wand to deal with him!” He was grinning while he complained, though.

    They kept the light-hearted pretense up until Hermione stood in front of the portal that would lead her to her parents. She turned to her friends. “Enjoy your holidays, you hear?”

    The two nodded. They didn’t wish the same to her. They knew her too well. She hugged Harry, then Ron.

    “Take care of yourself,” Harry said.

    “See you soon,” Ron said.

    Hermione nodded and turned to the portal.

    She didn’t cry when she left the platform, and with it, Wizarding Britain.

    *****​

    London, No 12 Grimmauld Place, June 22nd, 1996

    “Hermione! Come in!”

    Hermione Granger smiled at her best friend while stepping through the door. Once inside, she hugged him.

    “I missed you,” he said in a low voice.

    “I missed you as well.” It wasn’t entirely accurate. She would miss him, once he would be back at Hogwarts and she … wouldn’t be. It was weird how knowing - or at least, being reasonably certain - that she wouldn’t return to school with her friends made her feel differently about not seeing them for a few days.

    It affected Harry as well. He was still hugging her. She was tempted to make a comment about not going to vanish the second he released her, but decided against it and instead enjoyed the closeness. Living with Sirius was good for Harry; her friend had been a bit shy about hugs in the past.

    “Do you want to skip the drawing room, and go straight to Harry’s bedroom?”

    Sirius’s comment made Harry break off the hug, and glare at his smirking godfather. Hermione snorted; she had expected that from the older wizard as soon as she had seen him arrive.

    “Hello Sirius.”

    “Hello Hermione.” He bowed with a flourish. “Be welcome in my humble home.”

    “Ron’s not here yet but he’ll not be long,” Harry said, taking her hand. “Let’s go to the drawing room before Sirius tells Kreacher to enlarge my bed.”

    “Oh, good idea!”

    Hermione chuckled at the antics of the two while they left the entrance hall. The drawing room sported a nice selection of snacks and drinks - even muggle ones - on the small table, and new furniture.

    Hermione sat down on the couch. “So, what have you been up to this week?”

    “I’ve gone and picked up the rest of my stuff from Privet Drive.”

    “Oh?” She had thought that Harry had taken all his meagre belongings with him when he left the Dursleys last year.

    “They are moving, and they discovered things that belonged to my mum in the attic. My aunt left the stuff for me.”

    “That was nice of her.”

    He grimaced. “Maybe. Or she was simply afraid to make me mad. They were moving because they were no longer safe there, with the protection gone, and the Order was helping them.”

    Hermione thought that that was more likely, seeing what she knew of Harry’s relatives, but refrained from commenting. She also didn’t mention that her own parents were moving. Harry would feel guilty about it. And she didn’t want anyone from the Order knowing where her parents were moving to. “Did you read the book about Occlumency I gave you?”

    “I’ve started it. The method is very different from Snape’s.”

    “It takes more time, but it has a better success rate.”

    “I see.” Harry frowned, apparently remembering his torture sessions with Snape. “What have you been doing?” he asked, a bit hesitantly.

    “I’ve been spending time with my parents.” Organising the move. “And I’ve been buying lots of books to study.” From Knockturn Alley. Her parents had already bought her more books about guerilla warfare. And chemistry. “I’ve also been meeting a few members of my former study group.” In one of their safe houses.

    Harry frowned at that. “Dumbledore will come through, trust me. You’ll be at Hogwarts with us.”

    She smiled, and tried to sound as if she believed him. “I hope so.”

    He nodded. “Oh, before I forget: Here!” He handed her a small box.

    She opened it, and saw there was a small mirror in it. A familiar looking mirror. “Is that Sirius’s communication mirror?”

    “Yes.” Before she could hand it back, he stopped her. “He said you should have it. He doesn’t need it anymore, you know, since I now live with him.”

    And it would allow her to talk to Harry and Ron when they were at Hogwarts. “Thank you.” She smiled at him, feeling both happy and sad.

    For a while, neither of them said anything. Then, Harry coughed. “You know…”

    “Yes?”

    “Master’s godson’s friend has arrived.” Kreacher interrupted Harry before he could continue. Behind the elf, Ron waved at them.

    “Ron!” Hermione jumped up and went to hug her friend. He had grown, she thought, even though she knew it wasn’t possible. He felt taller though. And he hugged her tightly.

    “Hermione. Harry.”

    “Hi Ron. Butterbeer?” Harry said.

    The redhead seemed to hesitate, then she felt him nod and release her. “Sure.”

    “How are you doing? How’s the family?” she asked once all were seated again.

    Ron sighed. “I’m doing fine, but… It’s just me and Ginny at home. The twins live above their shop. Mum doesn’t like that. She and dad are tense, something’s up with the Order.”

    “What about Percy?”

    He scowled. “That git’s still ignoring us. Trying to cozy up to the Minister!” He took a sip from his bottle. “He’ll be kicking his girlfriend out any day now, so he’s not tainted by her ‘impure blood’!

    “Clearwater’s a half-blood,” Hermione pointed out.

    “So? That means she’s ‘half-tainted’. Our dear brother will be looking for a pureblood girlfriend soon enough so he can advance faster!” Ron spat out. He took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, I didn’t want to bring this up... he just makes me so mad. Mum’s been crying because of him!”

    He waved his hands, and Hermione couldn’t tell if he was apologising for bringing up family trouble, or blood purity in general.

    Ron finished his butterbeer, and grabbed another. “What have you been up to? Are you traveling to France again this summer?”

    Hermione repeated what she had told Harry, and added that they wouldn’t be going to France this year. Soon all three were chatting about less troubling topics. Sirius’s pranks. Tonks’s clumsy entrance through the Floo connection a day ago, when she had managed to topple over three others. But mostly the past four years they had spent together.

    *****​

    The young witch met with Sirius under the pretext of searching his library for a book before leaving. It wasn’t really a pretext - there were a number of tomes she’d like to read, and copy.

    “How are things going?” Sirius asked, leaning against the door.

    “As well as can be expected. We’ve set up safe houses. Most families are moving, or getting ready to,” Hermione said. “We’ve made contact with a few older muggleborns as well.” Among them a few Hit-Wizards who had been fired by the Ministry last year. The 7th years, like Allan, had done that; they had known them from school. Hermione herself hadn’t really known any muggleborns that had already graduated.

    The wizard nodded. “You haven’t told Harry or Ron yet.”

    “No,” Hermione said.

    “Why not? They’ll help you.” Sirius was staring at her.

    “I don’t want them involved.” She leaned against the closest shelf. “Harry will be safer at Hogwarts. With his link to Voldemort, he’ll need that protection.” It wasn’t as if he had learned enough Occlumency from Snape to do him any good. “And he’ll need Ron with him.” Harry hadn’t many friends he could trust. And, she added to herself, with his link and lack of Occlumency, Harry would be a danger to the muggleborns. If Voldemort could track him, then no safe house he visited would remain hidden for long.

    Sirius nodded, apparently accepting her reasoning. “They’ll not stay away if things start to get ugly.”

    “I know.” She sighed. “Things might not become that bad though.” Not that quick, at least. The Resistance still needed a lot of time before they were ready to fight back. Time to recruit, to train, to plan. To gather supplies.

    Sirius scoffed. “Even if the Ministry stops its stupid policy, the Death Eaters will target you and your families.”

    “That’s why most of us are moving. They won’t catch us.”

    “They can set the muggles on you. Like they did when I escaped Azkaban. Brand you as criminals.”

    “They already had a lot of trouble for trying to get the muggle police to hunt you.” Ron’s dad had mentioned that before their fourth year. “The ICW was not amused about this ‘blatant threat to the International Statute of Secrecy’. Fudge was so scared, he had his security detail doubled for a month.”

    Sirius laughed. Hermione didn’t. The muggleborns would be safer in the United Kingdom, but they also couldn’t get help from the government, and would have to be very careful about getting help from other muggles, like some of Seamus’s extended family. Otherwise, the Resistance would be branded as a threat to the Statute. And that they couldn’t afford. The ICW was usually quite ineffective, but when the Statute was in actual danger, they tended to react very harshly.

    The African tribal shamans had found that out when they had used magic to fight against the muggle colonialist forces. These days, there were no native wizards left in Central and South Africa.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, June 23rd, 1996

    Auror Brenda Brocktuckle stared at the hideous room, not bothering to hide her revulsion. “You know, seeing how Umbridge decorated her quarters here, she probably had to disappear before the Castle turned against her for inflicting those atrocities on its walls.”

    Her new partner, Radcliff Macmillan, a rookie fresh out of the Academy, scowled. The wizard had no humour at all.

    She sighed. Sometimes she felt far older than her 30 years. “Check for magical residue. I’ll search the room.”

    She doubted Macmillan would find anything. The last time the witch had been seen had been a week ago. But there might be some clues left among Umbridge’s belongings. That was why Brenda was searching the room, and her partner was wasting his time casting spells.

    She didn’t find anything. No notes, no scraps of parchments in the wastebasket, nothing. Which was suspicious by itself. If Umbridge had had to flee in a hurry, she’d not have taken the time to clean up the room. If she hadn’t been in a hurry, she’d have taken all her clothes, at least.

    There were no portraits in the room to serve as witnesses. The dozens of kittens populating dishes and frames couldn’t talk. If this had been a murder or a kidnapping, then the culprit had done his homework.

    “Nothing!” Macmillan glared at her. “Why are we wasting our time here? We already know who did this!”

    Brenda rolled her eyes. “Macmillan! We don’t know who did this. We don’t even know if a crime has been committed here.”

    “We’ve been ordered to arrest that mudblood, Granger.”

    She glared at him. The way he stressed ‘arrest’ reminded her of how some Aurors spoke of those arrests that led to fights. Fights that ended with dead suspects. “We’ll be taking the girl in for questioning, nothing more.”

    “The Minister himself ordered it!”

    “And Bones will have our hide if we don’t follow procedure. We take her in for questioning, see what she says, and if there’s a reasonable cause for it, we’ll use Veritaserum. Understood?”

    Her partner frowned, but nodded. She almost sighed again. Rookies either were too eager to follow procedure, not knowing when to bend the rules, or they had no clue about it and acted as if they were prefects at Hogwarts under Snape. Well, the idiot would learn. The Auror Corps was not Fudge’s personal guard, no matter what some people thought.

    “Well, we’re done here. Let’s go talk to the witch.” She glared at him again.

    *****​

    London, Kingston upon Thames, June 23rd, 1996

    Hermione Granger peeked out through the window above the door to her parents’ home when she heard the doorbell ring. Two people outside, one man, one woman, both in mismatched clothes even she could tell had been out of fashion for a decade or two. Pureblood wizards then. She couldn’t see anyone else around, but others could be hiding, or disillusioned.

    “I’m getting the door, mum!” she shouted, and ran down the stairs. She opened the door, though not all the way, using it to hide her wand, which she had already drawn.

    “Good evening. Can I help you?”

    “Are you Miss Hermione Granger?” the witch asked.

    She nodded, tensing up. “Who are you?”

    The female Auror smiled at her. “I’m Auror Brocktuckle, this is Auror Macmillan. We need you to come with us to the Ministry to answer a few questions.”

    She could see the other Auror sneer at her. Macmillan… that was an old pureblood family. Quite obsessed with their ancestry, as Ernie Macmillan had demonstrated at Hogwarts. And, as the Hufflepuff had demonstrated as well, not fond of muggleborns. And why would they want to question her? She acted as if she was confused. “Questions? What about?”

    “I can’t tell you that since it concerns a criminal case.”

    The Auror was smiling, but Hermione wasn’t really listening. Her mind was racing. She hadn’t done anything illegal! Even the preparations for the Muggleborn Resistance were not against the law… apart from the books she had bought in Knockturn Alley. But why wouldn’t they tell her the reason they needed to ask her a few questions? And why couldn’t they do it in her home? The obvious answer was not one she liked.

    “We’re about to eat dinner. Can I visit the Ministry tomorrow?” Hermione asked, as innocently as she could.

    The female Auror frowned, but her partner positively scowled and was drawing his wand! It was a trap! They had come for her! Hermione whipped her wand up and took a step back with her left foot, moving into a classic duelling stance. The female Auror’s eyes widened, and her wand started to slide out of her sleeve.

    “Stupefy!”

    Hermione’s Stunning Spell hit the witch in the chest before the surprised Auror could finish drawing her wand and the witch slumped over, starting to fall down. The young muggleborn spun around, her free hand grabbing the door and slamming it closed before she dived to the floor.

    “You damned mudblood! Confringo!”

    The door exploded, showering the entrance hall with splinters. They were here to kill her! She jumped up, leading with her wand. The male Auror was staring at his partner, who had probably been hit as well by his spell’s effect. His eyes widened when he saw her, and he started to cast, but was too slow to stop her. She had trained months for this!

    “Reducto!”

    Her spell hit the man in the face, leaving barely more than the stump of his neck. Blood, bone, hair and brain matter was scattered over the lawn and driveway. For a moment Hermione started at the sight, shocked. She had killed a man. Bile rose inside her throat. She had killed an Auror.

    “Hermione? Dear Lord!”

    Her mum’s scream broke her out of her shock. She had killed a filthy bigoted murderer who had wanted to kill her! And if she didn't get her act together she and her parents would be murdered!

    “Mum! They are coming for us! You need to move at once!” she yelled.

    “Hermione! You’re bleeding!”

    She blinked. Some of the splinters must have hit her. There was blood running down her face. Head wounds always bled a lot, she remembered. Then she started to feel the pain from that wound, and from others.

    “Mum! They tried to kill me! Call dad, you need to move, now! More will be coming soon!”

    “But… you’re hurt!”

    “Episkey! Scourgify!”

    She closed the wound on her head and cleaned her face, hoping she hadn’t closed the skin over a splinter in her head. “Not anymore. Please, mum, move!” She grabbed the enchanted coin in her pocket, and used it to alert the other members of the Resistance. If the Aurors were coming for her, then they’d be coming for everyone!

    “Accio Emergency bags!”

    Three bags came flying at them from upstairs. One for her, two for her parents - the Grangers had been prepared for this for weeks.

    “Mum…” she hugged her mother, crying.

    “Hermione…”

    “Tell dad I love him. I’ll call you as soon as I can do it safely.” Which would take a while.

    Two more spells removed her blood from her mother’s and her own clothes. They really had to go now.

    “Wingardium Leviosa!”

    She moved the stunned Auror and the corpse inside the house, put the witch in a Full Body-Bind Curse for good measure, then repaired the door and cleaned the lawn and driveway. The explosions and screams would have alerted the neighbours, but the hedges would have hidden what had happened, and this way, the police wouldn’t be looking into this.

    Her mother had already left with the car. Hermione took a last look at her home, then apparated away.

    *****​

    London, Ministry of Magic, June 23rd, 1996

    Brenda Brocktuckle almost pushed her quill through the parchment she was writing her report on. Her partner had been brutally murdered, and it was her fault! If she hadn’t been surprised by a muggleborn witch who had just passed her O.W.L.s, Macmillan would still be alive. Probably. She didn’t know what exactly had happened in the time between her getting stunned, and waking up, in a Full Body-Bind, next to her partner’s headless corpse. No matter what exactly had happened though, Scrimgeour would have her ass for letting a kid get the drop on her.

    And yet, despite her anger, she couldn’t help but wonder about something odd: Why had she been stunned, and her partner killed? Tactically, it made no sense. If Macmillan had been quick enough, he could have ennervated her. But why hadn’t he been stunned as well?

    A junior Auror dropped off a report with a mumbled greeting, then walked away with such haste, she bumped into a desk and almost fell to the ground. Brenda sighed. It seemed that news of her blunder had spread to the rookies already. She was well on her way to become a pariah - no Auror wanted to pair up with a screw-up who let her partner die.

    She read the report. Macmillan’s last spell had been a Blasting Curse. Since he had apparated with her to Granger’s house, he must have cast it in the fight. There hadn’t been any sign of what he had hit though. The wizard in charge of the investigation, Shacklebolt, thought that he had hit the door, judging by the wounds Brenda had suffered from splinters. She frowned. Had that idiot almost killed her with his spell? And why had he used that spell, instead of a Stunning Spell, as Aurors were trained to use for arrests? Was that why the girl had killed him?

    Scrimgeour thought this proved that Granger had been involved in the disappearance of Madam Umbridge. Not that it mattered - as the suspect in the murder of an Auror, the girl was now hunted by the entire Corps. They would find her, and they would arrest her. Or, Brenda thought, they’d kill her. No one would want to risk joining Macmillan in the grave and take his killer alive.

    She saw Elmar Parkinson walk into the office, scowling. After a moment, she stood up and walked over to the Auror. She might be a pariah, but she’d not hide. “What happened?”

    Parkinson looked at her, frowning, before he said: “Went to take in Allan Becket, another suspect in the Umbridge case. He wasn’t home. No one from his family was.”

    “There was another suspect?” She hadn’t been informed of that.

    Parkinson shrugged. “Every mudblood 5th year and above is a suspect.”

    Brenda scoffed. “So what, the Minister fears a muggleborn conspiracy now?” She stressed the ‘muggleborn’.

    Parkinson had noticed that, and sneered. “If the mudbloods are hiding, then there’s a reason for that. You complete the spell.”

    “The muggleborns might be hiding because the Ministry is persecuting them!”

    Brenda glanced to her side. The clumsy junior Auror was glaring at Parkinson. Brenda recognised her now. Nymphadora Tonks, a half-blood. Of course she’d take offense at Parkinson’s words. But the rookie should have known better than to defend suspects’ right after an Auror had been killed.

    Parkinson stood up, glaring at the kid. “The Ministry is doing what it can to keep Britain safe - from mudbloods and other threats. Our duty is to uphold the law. If you have a problem with that, you should quit before you get fired.”

    Tonks wasn’t cowed, unlike most rookies faced with a veteran Auror dressing them down. Instead, she glared right back. “Of course you’d say that, wouldn’t you? Parroting your uncle’s words? Oh, wait, you can’t, because your uncle was killed in the last war, fighting for the Dark Lord.”

    Parkinson ground his teeth. “Watch your mouth, rookie, or someone will teach you to hold your tongue,” he growled. “Black’s gold can’t protect you from everything.”

    Black’s gold? Brenda blinked, then remembered that Tonks’s mother was Sirius Black’s cousin. No wonder she was standing up to Parkinson; Black’s name and fortune might not carry as much weight as it once had, but the family was infamous for protecting their own, and that was a tradition the new Head apparently hadn’t dropped.

    Tonks sneered at Parkinson, then turned away and left them. Parkinson sighed and sat down again. “I don’t like this, Brocktuckle. First Macmillan gets killed, and now we can’t find the mudbloods.”

    “We’ll find them,” Brenda said. “No one kills an Auror and gets away with it.”

    “Damn right they won’t! Can’t let them get ideas!” Parkinson nodded at her. “Don’t take it too hard. My cousin told me that Granger was a sneaky bitch at Hogwarts, always hanging out with Potter and getting into trouble. Attacked other students too.”

    That would have been useful to have known before she had went to the girl’s home, Brenda thought. She didn’t say anything though, just nodded. “Thanks.”

    “No problem. Don’t kill off your next partner though. I’ve a feeling that we’ll need all the wands we can get.”

    Brenda scowled at Parkinson, who grinned at her. She just knew she’d be hearing similar comments for weeks. And it was all Granger’s fault. Granger’s and Macmillan’s.

    *****​

    London, No 12 Grimmauld Place, June 23rd, 1996

    Harry Potter heard his mirror buzz. Hermione was calling him. He smiled - he had been waiting for that call. She used to write him every day, so she certainly would not let the mirror lay idle. He put the book he had been reading down, grabbed the mirror from the side table and flopped down on his bed. “Hey there!”

    “Harry? Are you alone?”

    He blinked. She sounded tense. And why would she ask if he was alone. “Yes, I’m alone. Why? What happened?”

    “Two Aurors attacked me at home.”

    “What?” Harry Potter all but shouted into the mirror. “You’ve been attacked by Aurors?” He jumped up from his bed. “Are you OK?”

    “I’m OK. Barely hurt. But… I killed one of them. He tried to kill me with a Blasting Curse, and I blew his head off. Called me ‘mudblood’. I stunned the other Auror, but… they’ll hunt me.”

    “Merlin! Come to Grimmauld Place!” She was hurt. She needed help.

    “I can’t. They know we’re best friends, so they’ll expect that. They might even search the house. I killed an Auror, Harry.”

    Harry ground his teeth, He wanted to tell her the Aurors wouldn’t search Grimmauld Place, but… even Malfoy Manor was raided once, and that had been when the Death Eater had been Fudge’s best friend and the Dark Lord hadn’t been back yet. “But where will you go then? What about your parents?” he added, a bit belatedly.

    “I’ve been expecting this, just not that soon. I’ve been preparing for this.”

    “What?”

    “My parents have moved to a flat. The Ministry doesn’t know their new address. But I’m not with them. Even if the Aurors find them, they’ll not be able to find me. And it might take them a while to track them down. We’ve rerouted the post to the clinic.”

    “But if you’re not with them, where will you be going?” The Burrow? No.

    “I’m headed to a safe house.”

    “A safe house? Where? I’ll meet you there.” He could grab a few potions from Sirius. A book or two, to distract her. Some food.

    “No, you can’t! They’ll be keeping an eye on you, if they tie you to this you’ll be arrested. Act surprised, don’t defend me if they ask you about me!”

    The hell he would. He didn’t say that though, she had a point. But he needed to help her. “I can send Hedwig with supplies.” Or he could take his cloak, and his firebolt.

    “Owls won’t reach me.”

    “What?”

    “If owls could find me, Aurors could.” She took a deep breath. “Anyway… I’ll contact you again, once I’m in the safe house. Make sure you’re at home and alone, or just with Sirius, when you answer.”

    “Sirius?” Harry blinked. It made sense. His godfather had been on the run from the Ministry for years, without getting caught. If anyone could help Hermione escape getting arrested, it would be him. “I’ll get him!”

    “No, I’ll call later. I have to stop talking now. Bye, Harry!”

    “Wait!” he said, but she had already deactivated her mirror.

    He sat down on the bed. Merlin’s balls! Hermione was being hunted by the Ministry. She had killed an Auror! He closed his eyes, cursing. He remembered killing Quirrell. And the ghost of Voldemort. She must be feeling terrible! He ground his teeth. She had just been defending herself. Those had probably been Death Eaters. Dumbledore! Dumbledore would be able to solve this. He froze. Dumbledore hadn’t been able to keep Hermione at Hogwarts. And he hadn’t been able to get Sirius exonerated for over a year. He punched his mattress out of frustration. How could he help her? How could anyone help her?

    *****​

    London, East End, June 23rd, 1996

    Hermione Granger looked at the safe house. It was an old, almost derelict house. No one would be planning to buy and renovate it. No one would be missing rent from it after they had tampered with the records. She hadn’t spotted anyone trailing her, nor had she seen anyone observing the house, and not many of the Resistance knew of this safe house in the first place - they had compartmentalised such knowledge - but if the Ministry had struck at all of them, then a number of the members could have been arrested, and the defenses they had prepared might not have been enough to keep the house secret. She needed to find out how to cast the Fidelius!

    They hadn’t placed any wards on the place in order to avoid attracting attention. It looked safe, but she still had her wand out when she entered the house.

    The entrance hall was empty, no sign of any intruder. She took a deep breath, and continued to the stairs. Her side hurt - she had caught a splinter there - and her head was itching; she really hoped she hadn’t closed the skin over another splinter. The stairs creaked, and when she reached the first floor, she saw that the door was ajar. Someone had entered the flat.

    “Who’s there?” she asked, wand aimed at the door’s gap.

    “It’s me, Allan.”

    It sounded like him. She kept her wand aimed though, as the door was opened all the way, revealing the Ravenclaw. Former Ravenclaw, she amended the thought - he had completed his 7th year, even if he hadn’t been allowed to take the N.E.W.T.s.

    It looked like him. And if this was an ambush, then they’d have struck already. And if the Aurors had found this house, then she was probably doomed already. She wasn’t in the best shape either, after traveling for hours.

    “Good to see you.” She lowered her wand and entered the flat, sitting down on the couch in the living room. Then she filled him in on what had happened. She didn’t mention how she had emptied her stomach as soon as she had managed to feel safe enough to take a small break. And how ill she still felt thinking of how she had levitated the headless, bleeding corpse of the Auror into her home.

    Allan nodded. “They’ve hit my house as well, though not at the same time. I was already gone by then.”

    “So it was either an incompetent operation, or they were after me specifically,” Hermione said. If she focused on this, tried to make sense of this, then she didn’t have to think about the headless dead.

    “Both are possible,” Allan said. “Let me check your wounds.”

    “Alright,” Hermione said, “but not here. If they are monitoring magic, then we could compromise the safehouse. And I need something to eat first.”

    A bit later she was lying in her underwear on a bed in a hotel while Allan was running his wand over her, casting diagnostic charms. She would have felt embarrassed, but she was just a bit too tired, too hurt, and Allan was the closest to a healer she could get right now. She made a mental note to learn more diagnostic charms herself, and healing charms.

    “You’ve got several splinters under your skin. None of them are deep though, and I can’t detect any internal bleeding. The splinters have to come out though.” Allan even sounded like a healer. At least like those in the wireless shows; Madam Pomfrey sounded quite different.

    “Can you summon them out?” It would hurt, but it would be over in a second, and he could close up the wounds right away.

    He stared at her, shaking his head. “Is that the result of hanging out with Potter?” He was grinning though. “I’ll get them out with minimal pain, and we’ll not have to use Essence of Dittany to avoid scarring that way.” He winked at her. “It would be a shame to mar your skin.”

    That remark made her blush, and he laughed while he started working. She wondered if he had just tried to put her at ease, then pushed the thought away.

    She had to focus on far more important things. She had killed a man. She was now a wanted fugitive.

    *****​

    Devon, Ottery St. Catchpole, June 24th, 1996

    “What?”

    Ron Weasley stared at Harry. He had wondered why his friend had Flooed over so early in the morning, just after his dad had left for work. That Harry had cast a privacy charm before talking was odd as well, but not too unusual, even if the twins didn’t live there anymore.

    “I said Aurors tried to arrest Hermione. She killed one and stunned the other, then fled.”

    “Merlin’s balls! Why did she kill an Auror?” And how? Aurors were said to be the elite of the DMLE! He had known his friend was scary, but that scary?

    “They tried to kill her. Well, at least one of them - tried to blow her up. She was hurt when she called me,” Harry said.

    “We have to help her!” How could that have happened to his best female friend? She wasn’t a criminal!

    “I know. But she doesn’t want us to help. She said it’d be too dangerous, that we would be watched by Aurors.” Harry’s frown told Ron what his friend thought of that.

    “That’s probably true,” Ron said. “If she killed an Auror, they’ll hunt her down.”

    “They’ll try. She’s been preparing for that.”

    Ron felt a pang of envy. Why hadn’t she told him? Why did Harry know that? He forced that feeling away; his friend needed help. “But if she’s hurt, and can’t go to St. Mungo’s, what will she do?” Muggle healers were brutal, they cut you up.

    “I called her late last night. A ‘friend’ has helped her,” Harry said, frowning. ”Apparently, he’s great with healing spells.”

    “A ‘friend’?” Ron repeated. He hadn’t been aware that Hermione had other friends among wizards who were close enough to her to help her in such a situation.

    “Must be a muggleborn,” Harry said.

    “Why can he help her, and we can’t?” Ron asked.

    “He’s on the run from the Aurors as well, or so she said.”

    “Blimey! Did they go after all the muggleborns?” Ron hadn’t thought things had become that bad. Not with his dad telling him that Dumbledore was making progress in the Wizengamot.

    “Hermione thought they did, but she couldn’t tell me.”

    “We could ask dad, but he’ll not be home until the evening,” Ron said. “And there hasn’t been an Order meeting either.” And there was still this mysterious friend with Hermione. “But what can we do? There has to be something we can do to help her!”

    “She said to simply act normally, and do nothing until we know more. And not to tell anyone,” Harry said.

    Ron didn’t like to lie to his family, but he could see the necessity of keeping secrets. And he didn’t want his dad to lose his job. “I don’t like this.”

    “I hate it,” Harry said.

    Ron nodded. He hated feeling useless. But for the life of him, he couldn’t think of anything they could do right then. If Hermione had killed an Auror, then the only way their friend could be saved from the Aurors was to prove that the dead Auror had been a Death Eater or a traitor. And that was pretty much impossible without knowing anything more than what she had told them. There was nothing they could do. Unless…

    “Harry! We have to go to Diagon Alley!”

    “What?”

    “We have to visit Fred and George.”

    “Hermione said not to tell anyone.”

    “We won’t. But they have a lot of stuff made. Useful stuff. Remember the extendable ears?”

    Harry grinned. “Hermione could use some of that.”

    Ron nodded. And so could they. It might not be much, but it was something. Ron hated feeling useless.

    *****​

    Kent, Greengrass Manor, June 24th, 1996

    “Daphne?”

    Daphne Greengrass looked up from the latest issue of ‘Teen Witch Weekly’ she was reading when her mother knocked at the door.

    “Yes, mother?”

    “We just received an invitation to the Summer Ball at Malfoy Manor.”

    Daphne raised her eyebrows. “A ball in summer?” Leave it to the Malfoys to champion wizard traditions, and yet come up with such a newfangled thing! Summer was for travelling, everyone knew that!

    She must have let her distaste for the Malfoys show, since her mother frowned at her. “All the Old Families have been invited. This will be a memorable event.”

    Daphne rolled her eyes. “Father will be ‘networking’, you will be gossiping, and I’ll be stuck with Draco and his ilk.”

    “It’s important to make a good showing, dear. Especially in those troubled times.”

    “You mean you don’t want to make the Death Eaters mad at you,” Daphne said, rolling her eyes.

    Her mother’s mouth turned into a thin line. “You don’t remember the war. Gestures such as attending this event allowed our family to avoid it.”

    “I thought father voted to kick the mudbloods out of Hogwarts to avoid a war.” At least that was what Daphne had understood his reasoning to be. It made sense to her. It wasn’t as if anyone cared about the mudbloods anyway.

    Her mother sighed. “It’s a bit more complicated than that.”

    Daphne shrugged. She didn’t care about politics. Sighing, she said: “I guess one evening in the company of idiots won’t be too much of a sacrifice for the family.”

    Her mother didn’t smile, so Daphne probably had overdone it a bit. “Will Tracey be there as well?”

    “I believe so.”

    “Good. I’d hate to be without any pleasant company during the evening.”

    “Your sister will attend the ball as well.”

    “And?” Astoria was a stupid little girl. She would have fallen for Blaise’s lines if Daphne hadn’t told her what the git was like.

    “Daphne! It will be her debut! You will not ruin that evening for her!”

    Daphne rolled her eyes again. “Alright, I won’t ruin the squirt’s evening. Is that all?”

    “Yes.” Her mother frowned again, but left.

    Daphne shook her head. The things she had to put up with!
     
  18. Pahan

    Pahan Know what you're doing yet?

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    And so it begins...
    I am, as you well know, a fan of BAMF!Hermione, but her outfighting two aurors seems a bit too much of a good thing. She didn't even cast the Stunning Spell nonverbally and still surprised Bowtruckle, and Macmillian never even bothered to shield, even once the fight began in earnest.
    o/` I killed the auror - the auror
    But I swear it was in self-defense. '\o
     
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  19. RedX

    RedX Know what you're doing yet?

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    It's something like a pair of cops approaching a Person of Interest- and a sixteen-year-old girl at that. They're doing what cops do- they assume they've got every right to be there, and are used to dealing with subjects that are perhaps not cooperative, but at least acknowledge the ministry's authority. They're not expecting that their target already views the government they represent as an implacable enemy, has been prepping for guerilla war for a six months, and believes she's as good as dead or worse if arrested by the likes of Macmillan. They're especially not expecting their Person of Interest to go straight into combat mode, pepper spray one cop, and shoot the other dead.

    They're acting like police keeping the peace. Hermione was already fighting a war.

    It'll be interesting to see where the Hermione/Allen dynamic goes- the two sides of the revolutionary coin, so to speak. Looking forward to more.
     
  20. Blargh

    Blargh I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    This is a interesting statement, I like how little events like Umbridge being as horrible as she was and one of the muggleborn being vicious enough to consider murdering her end up having such large consequences. I like when the course of history is the conclusion of lots of little events like that.

    Otherwise we have the start of the muggleborn resistance in truth with the Aurors being convinced to go after all of the muggleborn's at Hogwarts.

    I'm not sure what is going to happen with Fred and George, but something is probably going to go wrong.
     
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  21. Pahan

    Pahan Know what you're doing yet?

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    Fair point, but cops would be hitwizards. Aurors have a bit higher standards, no? Macmillian, in particular, had at least a few seconds to cast a Shield Charm, which seems to me to be the first thing he'd do after Hermione Stunned his partner. He wasn't surprised, he just lost a fairly pitched duel.

    Ultimately, I think that this scene might have worked better if Hermione won by activating some trap that she had prepared in case of a Death Eater attack.
     
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  22. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Brenda was surprised, and simply too slow on the draw compared to Hermione. There was no need to cast the spell nonverbally and weaken it under those circumstances. Macmillan was a rookie, and made stupid rookie mistakes in his first real combat. Or at least his first "fair" real combat.

    Correct. Also, Brenda wasn't really aware just how muggleborns see the Aurors nowadays. As one of the "good cops", she didn't expect every muggleborn to be ready to fight them, but thought that was limited to a very small minority.

    Allan and Hermione will hopefully have an interesting dynamic.

    It won't be the last time plans were ruined by such things. Chance in this story is a bitch to all complicated plans.

    Historians will debate when the war actually started.

    Depends on how smart and lucky they are.

    In this story (and most of my others) Aurors are the cops, Hit-Wizards are the closest to soldiers wizards get, even if most of them are used as guards (or fired) in peacetime. And both might claim they have higher standards and have a rivalry going, but neither the average Auror nor Hit-Wizard is really that impressive. There are very, very dangerous Aurors. But the vast majority of them are not used nor trained to fight in a war. And there are very dangerous hit-wizards - those would be considered Special Forces among muggles. The vast majority are not of that caliber, but generally still a notch above Aurors.

    I disagree. It shows that Hermione is on a level to fight two Aurors with a bit of surprise. That way, people won't expect a bunch of cops to walk over motivated terrorists and Freedom Fighters who have been training for quite some time.
     
  23. qof

    qof Making the rounds.

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    This is really good. I'm curious to see how it develops. There's a difficult balance the muggleborns are going to have to strike between scaring the purebloods out of oppressing them, versus alienating their current supporters. I'm not sure I see umbridge disappearing being important enough to be the cause of the war -- unless the history text was just hypothesizing that Aurors wouldn't have come after muggleborns (and triggered the mass exodus) anyway, something I think I share Allen's opinion on.
     
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  24. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    As the next excerpt will show, Umbridge wasn't important enough to be the cause of the war - but her disappearance contributed.
     
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  25. Threadmark: Chapter 3: The Spark
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Chapter 3: The Spark

    ‘To understand the Ministry’s reaction to the disappearance of Dolores Umbridge, one has to understand the views of the time: It wasn’t that the Ministry didn’t know that Umbridge had spent a year torturing muggleborn students, it was that very fact that made them look at prominent muggleborns as the likely culprits. For over a year, Wizarding Britain had been presented with reports and tales of muggleborn aggression. Even the most peaceful purebloods lived in fear of a war provoked by muggleborns. It was therefore seen as simply logical that they would lash out at anyone tormenting them, with lethal means even. The fact that the muggleborns managed to evade the Aurors trying to ‘take them in for questioning’ was therefore seen as proof that there was a conspiracy of muggleborns working against the Ministry. Which, given the subsequent events, proved to be somewhat correct.’
    - Excerpt from ‘Wizarding Britain in the 20th Century’ by Albert Runcorn


    *****​

    London, East End, June 24th, 1996

    She raised her wand slowly, very slowly, but time seemed to be frozen for everyone else. The man’s eyes were widening, his mouth opening, but he couldn’t stop her.

    “Reducto!”

    The spell hit him right in the face and his head exploded, showering her with blood. Blood ran down her face as she turned, spotting his partner on the ground. The woman was awake, and staring at her. Pleading. Hands raised in supplication.

    She pointed her wand at her.

    “Reducto!”

    The woman’s head exploded. Blood splattered against her door, flowed over the entrance, until she was standing in a pool of red. Blood ran down her face, soaking her top. She was laughing.

    “Hermione?”

    She whirled around. Harry and Ron were standing there, staring at her with horror frozen on their faces. And she was raising her wand, aiming it at her friends.

    “Red…”

    Hermione Granger woke up screaming. She patted herself down. No blood. Just sweat. She wasn’t at home. For a moment, she didn’t know where she was, and grabbed her wand. Then she remembered. She was in the safe house. She was on the run from the Ministry. She had killed an Auror. She closed her eyes and started to calm down. A nightmare, again.

    “Hermione?”

    She was out of the bed and aiming her wand at the door before she recognised the voice. Allan.

    “Hermione? Are you alright?”

    She lowered her wand and took a deep breath. “Yes. Just a nightmare. Sorry.”

    “Can I come in?”

    “What?” Her hand rose until she forced it down again.

    “You don’t sound as if you’re alright.” He sounded concerned.

    For a moment, she was torn. She wanted to send him away, but she didn’t want to be alone either. She wanted her parents. Or her friends.

    “Give me a second.”

    She was a mess. Her T-shirt was soaked with sweat and her shorts were not doing that much better. And her hair looked frightening. Nothing could be done about that now, though. She changed into another T-shirt and shorts, then went to open the door.

    Allan was wearing pyjama pants and a T-shirt himself.

    “Did I wake up anyone else?” she asked, after she had closed the door again.

    He shook his head. “No. I was awake myself, that’s why I heard you. The rest are still asleep.”

    “I’d say we need silencing charms, but…” Hermione said.

    “... it’d mean we’d not hear an alert, or even an attack.” Allan nodded. “And we don’t know how well they can detect magic.”

    “If they can’t, then how do Obliviators work?” Hermione asked. Focusing on something, especially a problem, helped her. They hadn’t done any magic in the safehouse so far, out of fear of attracting Aurors.

    “That’s a good question. The Ministry has to be able to detect magic, but it’s not certain how capable their system is.”

    “Further testing is required,” Hermione said, almost grinning.

    “You should have been a Ravenclaw,” Allan said, smiling. “The hat must have been confunded when it sorted you.”

    Hermione snorted. “I like to think I’m braver than I am smart.”

    “You must be the bravest girl ever then.”

    The compliment caught her off-guard. Was he humouring her, or simply trying to comfort her? Or, was he trying to impress the girl shaken by her nightmare? Allan wasn’t like that, she told herself. Out loud she snorted. “Some brave girl I am, screaming because of a nightmare.”

    “You’ve been through a very traumatising experience. You’ve been attacked, hurt, and had to kill a man,” Allan said. “It’s natural that this will affect you. No one can deal with such an experience easily. You’ll be feeling better soon. You only defended yourself and others, after all.”

    Hermione knew that, but the knowledge hadn’t helped her. Hearing it from Allan though helped. A bit at least. She nodded. “You sound like you’ve got experience with that.” As soon as she had said it, she regretted it. Prying, when he was trying to help her?

    He smiled and shook his head. “I’ve just read about such things. Trying, you know, to prepare for the worst case.”

    Smart. But then, Allan was a Ravenclaw. And one of the best students in his year. “The worst case seems to have happened. They’re hunting us all.”

    “They’ll not find us easily. And they’ll have an even harder time taking us.” Allan sounded confident, even fierce when he said it.

    Hermione wanted to warn him that killing wasn’t easy, but she didn’t. He knew that already, intellectually, and she feared he’d experience it himself all too soon, if things continued as they were. She shook her head. “No, they won’t. We’ll make them regret coming after us.”

    Hermione suddenly felt uncomfortable, standing there in her sleepwear, and sat down on her bed, wrapping the blanket around her. “I just wonder why they came at us, now. Did anyone of the Resistance talk?” The precautions they had taken should prevent that, but nothing was certain. They didn’t know everything the Ministry could do, especially the Department of Mysteries.

    “I doubt it. They probably simply realised that kicking us out of school and then trying to keep us from getting any work was bound to make us look for ways to show our opinion of them, and so tried to act preemptively.” He took a step toward her bed, then stopped.

    “Maybe. I’ll ask my friends about it.” Ron and Harry should be able to find out more, Hermione thought. Without endangering themselves.

    Allan frowned. “Maybe.”

    “You don’t think so?”

    He hesitated. “They’re not like us.”

    They were not muggleborns, he meant, Hermione realised. “They’re my best friends. I trust them with my life. If we start thinking like the bigots, judging people by their blood, we’ll be no better than them!” she said, with more than a little heat in her voice.

    “I didn’t mean that.” he held up his hands. “It’s just… if we trust them because they’re your friends, then others will expect that their friends will be trusted as well. And those friends won’t be Harry Potter.”

    Those friends could be spies or traitors, he meant. “We’re talking about information. We’ll be needing a lot of information about the Ministry and the Death Eaters. And that will come from pure- and half-blood friends.”

    “As long as it’s just information it should be fine,” Allan said. “I’m just concerned about setting a bad example for our security.”

    “I see.” She bit her lower lip. He had a point, and she hated to be biased, but… Harry and Ron were her best friends. She trusted them with her life. Had trusted them with her life. And she missed them already. Terribly.

    She forced herself to yawn. “I think I should go back to sleep now. Sorry about … you know.”

    Allan looked at her, then nodded. “Of course, that’s what friends are there for.”

    He left with a smile, leaving her alone with her thoughts.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, June 24th, 1996

    Albus Dumbledore looked at the clock on the wall of his office. Almost midnight. He ignored the glare from Fawkes; his phoenix was too protective and didn’t understand that sometimes, his own needs had to give way to the needs of others.

    He rubbed the bridge of his nose. The incident involving Miss Granger was a tragedy. A tragedy he should have foreseen. He had known from Nymphadora and Kingsley about the attitude that was so widespread among the new Aurors.

    He was not certain that he could have prevented it. Not unless he had warned Miss Granger of such a danger. And, given what had happened shortly after that disastrous attempt to ‘take her in’, he might have simply caused another tragedy. Might. Mister Macmillan would almost certainly still be alive, but Miss Granger would still be a wanted witch, her flight having been taken as proof of her being guilty. It was ironic, actually. Albus was quite certain that the Aurors wouldn’t have found Miss Granger if the witch had been involved in Dolores’s disappearance. She would have expected to be a suspect, and would have fled already.

    None of that changed the fact that she was now a fugitive. She wouldn’t be able to attend Hogwarts now, not even once he managed to get the laws repealed. The most brilliant witch of her generation, forced out of Hogwarts… it was a travesty. He would have to start working on exonerating her. Macmillan’s views of muggleborns were well-known. It wouldn’t take much to paint him as a Death Eater. Severus could almost certainly help there. And once Tom was fighting the Ministry, things would change with regards to the muggleborns. Even, or especially, with regards to those who had taken up arms against Death Eaters. He faintly smiled. If he played it right, then he could even use this to ensure that such laws would never be passed again.

    If. He wasn’t as confident of his influence as he had been. Not anymore. At least Miss Granger and her compatriots were not in immediate danger. They would be hiding in the muggle world, out of reach of the Ministry. The only danger right now, apart from rash action on the side of the muggleborn students, something he was certain Miss Granger would not condone, were the muggle authorities. Albus didn’t think that the Minister would try to get them involved though - Cornelius had learned his lessons after he had set the muggles on Sirius three years ago. Still, it would only be prudent to leave Kingsley at 10 Downing Street, and keep the Prime Minister informed about the recent developments. Just in case. Fortunately, Albus had kept good relations with every Prime Minister since Winston.

    He sighed, and returned his attention to the parchment on his desk. Young Percival had taken some risk, sending this report to him while the investigation into Dolores’s disappearance was still going on and Aurors were looking into all of her activities, but it had been worth it. Two more names were added to the list of Tom’s agents in the Ministry. A flick of his wand rolled the scroll up and he placed it in the expanded pocket of his robes.

    He wasn’t looking forward to the next Order meeting, despite this bit of good news. Molly would be blaming him for the whole incident with Miss Granger. She wouldn’t be entirely wrong either.

    *****​

    London, East End, June 25th, 1996

    Breakfast reminded Hermione Granger almost painfully of Hogwarts, with so many students, former students, present. Seamus, Dean, Sally-Anne, Justin and the Creeveys had appeared yesterday. They were fortunate, Hermione thought, that Seamus had been visiting Dean, or he’d be in Ireland still. Sadly, neither Jeremy Chadwick nor Louise Clifton, the two former Hit-Wizards she had met through Allan, had made contact yet.

    The food was far from what was served at Hogwarts though. It was edible, and that was all that could be said about it. Hermione made a mental note to look into ways to improve someone’s cooking skill. Her mental list was getting rather long.

    “Has anyone heard from Mary, Martin, Tania or John?” she asked, once most had stopped eating, interrupting the talk about football between Dean and Seamus.

    Allan shook his head, but she already knew he hadn’t heard from his fellow Ravenclaw.

    “Martin lives in Edinburgh, he should be making his way to us today,” Justin said.

    “Mary and Tania are together,” Sally-Anne said. “They’re camping.” And scouting locations for some of the training they had discussed, as well as emergency rally spots.

    “We need to get better communications.” Mobile phones, though she was certain they wouldn’t work in every part of Britain. Certainly not in the parts the muggles thought were empty wilderness. Alternatives were needed. They had already barred owls from finding them. Letters were too slow. Phone booths would do in a pinch, but wouldn’t let people be called. E-mail needed a provider and a landline. “We need to test if the Ministry can track magic,” Hermione said. “I’d hate to hamstring myself and rely on muggle transportation if we could safely apparate.” Communication would be much easier as well.

    Allan nodded. “We can prepare an ambush, in case they can track magic.”

    Seamus nodded eagerly. “Oh, yes.”

    Hermione frowned. “That’s not a good idea. We still do not know what the Ministry was planning. Until we have more information, a more cautious approach is needed.”

    “What’s to know? They came for us, just like we knew they would. We have to teach them to leave us be,” Dean said.

    “We might be playing into their hands if we blindly start fighting,” Hermione retorted. Justin nodded.

    “If we capture an Auror or two, we could get more information out of them,” Allan proposed.

    “We do not have Veritaserum ready for an interrogation. And none of us is a trained Legilimens,” Hermione said.

    “There are other ways to interrogate people.” Allan licked his lips.

    “What do you mean?” Hermione narrowed her eyes. Did he want to torture Aurors? Even if they were to stoop so low, everyone knew torture didn’t work.

    Allan met her eyes, then calmly said: “Like the police interrogate people.”

    Seamus snorted. “With rubber hoses?” He obviously was looking forward to a fight.

    Hermione rolled her eyes. Fortunately, she was well-used to dealing with reckless wizards. “Even if we had a trained interrogator among us, we are not prepared for a fight.” They had expected more time to prepare. Hermione hadn’t thought the Ministry would move so fast against them. Fortunately, they had already set up a few safe houses. She looked at her fellow Resistance members. “If we go at this half-cocked, we might as well just surrender or flee. We need to be prepared. We need Veritaserum ready for interrogations. We need potions to treat wounds. We need more training. And we need more information.”

    Her not-quite-glare made the Gryffindors among the students agree quickly. Justin would follow the majority as the only Hufflepuff, Hermione thought. Allan seemed to ponder the matter, before he slowly nodded.

    “Alright. We’ll test the Ministry’s magic detection capabilities first thing after this. I’ve an idea how to do it safely.”

    *****​

    London, Silvertown, June 25th, 1996

    The faint sounds of explosions reached Hermione Granger’s ears. She sighed. Of course Seamus would use Blasting Spells for the test, and not the more sensible spells she had proposed. She consoled herself with the fact that the Millennium Mills, the abandoned complex of concrete granaries in the Docklands area of London, were big and stable enough to take the abuse.

    “Fifteen minutes of constant casting between Seamus and Dean,” she noted. “No response from anyone.” At least not on the best areas to apparate to. She checked the walkie-talkie, then looked at Allan. “I guess the two do not get to use the escape tunnels.”

    Allan shook his head. “I concur. It does seem as if the Ministry cannot detect magic.”

    “Which begs the question: How can the Obliviators uphold the Statute of Secrecy if they cannot detect magic?” Hermione added. “Even if everyone followed the law, they’d have to cover up accidental magic at least.”

    Allan seemed to mull this over while they heard more explosions. “We could try to break the statute, and find out.”

    Hermione shook her head. “No. That’s far too dangerous, given the possible consequences.” Compared to intentionally breaking the Statue of Secrecy, murder or mass murder was a small thing in the Magical World. Even those purebloods who supported them might turn against the Resistance.

    “They might try that anyway.” Allan scoffed.

    “I’m rather certain the Ministry will not dare to lie about this. Fudge already got into a lot of trouble when he set the police on Sirius Black two years ago.” Arthur Weasley had been quite vocal about that during that summer. It was another reason - apart from the fact that the Ministry had the Prime Minister under surveillance, allegedly to protect him against mind-control spells and other magical assaults - why the muggleborns couldn’t simply get help from Her Majesty’s government.

    Allan still looked unconvinced. Hermione sighed. “We’ll test if they can track Apparition now. If they cannot track that either, then a lot of our work will be far easier, and we’ll have to adjust our plans. We simply can’t risk another confrontation right now.”

    Finally her friend nodded. They used their walkie-talkie to call the others, so everyone would apparate at the same time to the prepared spot near Victoria Station. Even if the Ministry could track Apparition they’d vanish in the throngs of people using one of the busiest stations of the Capital.

    While she was waiting to apparate, Hermione was already making plans. Seamus would be able to reach Ireland and his ‘contacts’ there in a few minutes. They would have more options for safe houses as well, and for the planned ‘school’. And they could place anti-muggle wards on the safehouse, to keep squatters or the police out, and renovate the inside with Repair Charms, and a few more exotic charms the Ravenclaws had dug up.

    And she’d be able to meet up with Harry and Ron more easily. Once they had learned Apparition as well. Which they would, if they knew what was good for them!

    The young witch was smiling when she apparated to Victoria Station.

    *****​

    London, No. 12 Grimmauld Place, June 25th, 1996

    “What? I didn’t touch that monster!”

    Harry Potter winced at the volume of Hermione’s outburst and held the mirror a bit further away. Fortunately, he and Ron were in his room at Grimmauld Place, and the doors were charmed to keep people outside from overhearing whatever was said inside.

    “And that would have been stupid anyway, giving them more pretexts to paint us as dangerous elements! If I’d have killed her, I’d have framed the Acromantulas, for example. That way, I wouldn’t have been suspected. But this? Damn those bigots! They don’t even know if she’s dead, or simply got lost in Hogwarts due to her own incompetence, all they see is an opportunity to attack muggleborns!”

    Harry saw that Ron shuddered at the mentioning of the Acromantulas. He was more concerned about the ease of which Hermione talked about murdering Umbridge. It sounded as if she had given that more than a little thought. He snorted. What was he thinking? He knew Hermione. She was always making plans and schedules; of course she would have made plans for this.

    But she wouldn’t have done this. He was certain. Mostly.

    “Sorry…” his best female friend took a few deep breaths. “It’s just… I killed an Auror because of this?”

    “You had no choice,” Harry hastened to say. Hermione looked very troubled, and with good reason, he told himself. He remembered killing Quirrell, and the nightmares that had caused. He hesitated, then added: “I know what you are going through, and if you want to talk, I’m here.”

    “As am I,” Ron added. Harry shot him a glance. His friend hadn’t killed anyone; he didn’t know how that felt.

    “Thank you, but…“ Hermione trailed off, looking surprised, then embarrassed. “Oh, I forgot… I’m sorry, Harry. I didn’t think about our first year.”

    “Don’t worry, you’ve got a lot on your mind,” he tried to reassure his friend.

    She sighed. “Yes. And so much to do.”

    “We’ve been in the WWW shop,” Ron said, leaning towards Harry so he could see the mirror better. “They’ve created a lot of useful things. You need to see their inventory.”

    “The twins… ah! Ask them to teach you Apparition. The Ministry can’t track that. You’ll need a wand without the trace on it, but Sirius can get you some.”

    Harry wondered how she knew all that, but he trusted her. He exchanged a glance with Ron, who smiled. “We’ll do it.” They knew what Hermione was telling them - if they could apparate, they could help her.

    “We’ll study hard!” Ron announced, grinning.

    “You better!” Hermione smiled, but Harry thought it was a bit forced. “It’s getting a bit late here… I’ll call you tomorrow, same time?”

    “Yes. Good night,” Harry said. He would have liked to talk some more, but she needed her sleep.

    “Sleep well,” Ron added.

    The image in the mirror faded out.

    Harry turned to his friend. “She’s not doing well.”

    Ron shook his head. “And she won’t tell us about it. Like someone else we know,” he added.

    Harry rolled his eyes, but otherwise ignored the remark. This wasn’t the same. “We need to do more. Not just learning how to Apparate.”

    “Fighting, you mean.” Ron grinned, but without humour.

    “Yes.”

    They would show Hermione that they were her best friends, and could help her. Protect her. Better than that other friend of hers.

    *****​

    London, Diagon Alley, June 26th, 1996

    “Welcome to… oh. Hello, Ron. Hi Harry.“

    Alicia Spinnet dropped the overly cheerful smile and nodded at the two wizards who had just entered Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. “Fred and George are in the back.”

    “Hello Alicia,” Ron Weasley said. “Thank you.”

    Harry smiled at the former chaser for the Gryffindor Quidditch team. “We could be here to buy something, you know. No need to drop the friendly act.” He grinned.

    Alicia snorted. “If Ron wants something, he’ll ask his brothers, and we have standing orders not to let you pay for anything.”

    Ron didn’t want to be reminded of the state of his finances, and of Harry’s, and tried to change the topic: “Are you now working here?”

    “I’m just helping out,” the witch said, “until my tryouts with the Harpies.”

    “Oh! So that was a scout at the last match!” Ron smiled.

    “Indeed. There were a number of them, but most were checking out the Boy-Who-Lived,” Alicia said, grinning. “But since Harry’s simply not measuring up to the stringent standards of the Harpies, I had an easy time impressing her.”

    “And Angelina?” Ron asked while Harry snorted.

    “She’s trying out as well. It would be nice if we both made it, but…”

    Ron nodded. All of them knew that the chances of that were rather slim. The ‘Flying Foxes’, as Lee had dubbed them, were good, but not that good compared to experienced professional players. “Well, good luck!”

    “Thank you.”

    Harry and Ron headed to the back of the store, where the entrance of the twins’ workshop was.

    “Hi Fred, Hi Geo…” was as far as Ron got, before he had to duck to dodge a black blur that almost hit him in the face.

    “Opps, sorry Ron. That prototype needs a bit more work,” George said.

    “What’s it supposed to do?” Harry asked, peering at the black stain left on the wall behind Ron.

    “Close the door and we’ll tell you!” Fred, looking up from his desk, said. “Can’t have anyone listening in; they might sell our secrets to Zonko’s.”

    Once the door was closed, the two grew more serious. “So… did you give Hermione our ‘samples’?”

    “Not yet.” Ron winced. “She doesn’t want to risk visiting Grimmauld Place right now.”

    Harry nodded. “Which is why we need you to teach us Apparition, so we can meet her anywhere.”

    Fred raised an eyebrow. “While we tend to encourage rules breaking, you’ll need a wand without a trace to escape notice by the Ministry.”

    “And breaking the trace is rather complicated and illegal,” George added.

    Ron snorted. Harry grinned. “Someone supplied us with two clean wands.”

    “I see.” Fred shook his head. “They grow up so fast.”

    More seriously, George asked: “Do you know what you are doing? The Ministry’s about to bring down the bat on muggleborns.”

    “Yes, we know,” Ron said, indignantly. As if he and Harry would leave Hermione to the Aurors!

    George nodded. “Alright then, we can teach you.”

    Fred looked at them. “There’s more, right?”

    Ron nodded. “We want to spy on the Aurors. Any warning before a raid could save Hermione’s life.” He held up his hand when George opened his mouth. “Not inside the Ministry. But there’s that pub we heard about, ‘The Thin Red Line’. We thought they’d talk about all sorts of things there.” Tonks had mentioned it over the Yuletide break.

    “They will be using privacy spells,” Fred said, rubbing his chin. “But… an extendable ear, placed there before the spell is cast would probably defeat that.”

    George nodded. “We’d need to modify the ear, but… entirely doable.”

    “Placing them there though…“ Fred shook his head. “That will be difficult. And if caught… That’s not a prank.”

    “We’ve got my cloak, we’ll be fine,” Harry said.

    Ron nodded. “We thought about asking Tonks, but…”

    “You don’t ask Prefects to help with Pranks, not even against Slytherins,” George said, nodding. “Good thinking.”

    Ron would have helped with pranking the Slytherins, but he didn’t say that. Once back at Hogwarts though, if the Snakes tried to lord it over them…

    “It’s settled then,” Harry said. “What else do you have that’d be useful in dealing with Aurors?”

    “Glad you asked. Did we ever mention our Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder?” Fred asked, showing them a small bag. “Instant Darkness. Nothing can penetrate it, and it’s resistant to light spells.”

    “And here’s a Screaming Skrewt,” George said, holding up something that looked far too much like a spider for Ron’s comfort. Then he remembered Hagrid’s abominations from 4th year. “It doesn’t blast things, but it screams and can serve as a nice distraction.”

    “A nice surprise to hide in the bathroom too!” Fred added. Ron just knew who his brothers had had in mind as the target for that

    “Glamorous Glue.” George held up a vial with a green liquid in it. “Spreads easily and will hold anything until dissolved with a special solution.”

    Ron exchanged a glance with Harry. If Hermione couldn’t use those, then he had a few uses in mind already. And targets.

    *****​

    London, Silvertown, June 27th, 1996

    “Stupefy!”

    Hermione Granger ducked under the spell Dean cast at her, and stepped behind a concrete ramp in the Millennium Mills, disillusioning herself as soon as she had broken line of sight, then stepped back. As expected, Dean was casting a hex at the top of the ramp. Her own Stunning Spell hit his Shield Charm, shattering it, and her next clipped him on the side while he was throwing himself backwards. He landed unconscious on the dusty floor of the Granary they were duelling in.

    “Good show,” Allan said, clapping.

    Hermione was pleased, but shook her head before waking up Dean. “Good fight, Dean. If you had guessed the right end of the ramp, I’d have been hit. I need to be quicker with casting a shield.”

    Dean chuckled, cleaned himself of dust, and said: “I’ll take a break now, before I break something.”

    Hermione grinned while her friend went down to the rest area, to recover.

    “A Shield Charm won’t stop a Killing Curse,” Allan said. The former Ravenclaw liked to discuss magic as much as she did, and was as tenacious about a topic.

    She nodded, acknowledging the point. “That’s true. But it’ll stop a lot of other curses. Duellists vary their spells for a reason.” Even the Dark Lord didn’t use the Killing Curse that much.

    Allan shrugged. “If you can hit them with a Stunning Spell, you can hit them with a Killing Curse.”

    “That doesn’t apply to indirect spells, or to conjurations and transfigurations. And you can cast a number of spells much faster than the Killing Curse,” Hermione said. “Our enemies can’t be counted upon to stick to the Unforgivables.”

    “History shows that they were the Death Eater’s spells of choice in the last war,” Allan pointed out, “but I guess the Ministry will try other spells first.”

    “They’re not allowed to use Unforgivables without a formal order from the Ministry,” Hermione said. She had looked that up at Hogwarts.

    “That won’t stop the Death Eaters among them. No witnesses, no trouble.”

    “If they get caught the propaganda value would be immense though,” Hermione said. If only they had a pensieve; they could take pictures of memories and use them for some leaflets. The Gemino Charm would let them create as many copies as they needed. That they wouldn’t last that long was no problem with leaflets. It would even be environment-friendly, she thought with a snort.

    Allan scoffed. “The purebloods won’t believe us anyway. And the half-bloods should know better than to trust the purebloods in the first place.”

    She frowned. “Many purebloods disagree with the blood purists. They fought the Death Eaters in the last war, and will fight them again.” Like Ron and his family. Hermione ran a hand through her hair and redid her pony tail. “Let’s go down to the others.”

    “And none of them did anything during the last year, when the purebloods passed law after law to oppress us,” Allan said, sneering, while they walked to the break area. “Or when the bitch tortured us.”

    “I hope she’ll burn in hell forever!” Dean said, having caught the last line.

    He was limping slightly. Maybe she had hit him harder than she had meant to during practise, Hermione thought. She snorted. “If she’s even dead, and not just hiding, laughing while we’re blamed for her ‘death’.” It would fit the evil toad.

    “Umbridge?” Sally-Anne asked, standing up when she saw them arrive.

    “Yes,” Dean said, sitting down next to the girl.

    “You think she’s not dead?” Sally-Anne said, sounding horrified while handing Dean a pot of muggle salve to treat his bruises. They’d save the magical ointments for serious cases. And, Hermione thought, it would toughen them up some.

    Hermione sat down and grabbed a soft drink from the cooler. “Who could have killed her? It wasn’t anyone of us. And her disappearance has given the Ministry a pretext to attack us. We lost weeks if not months of preparation due to this.” All her plans and schedules, wrecked!

    Allan frowned. “She deserved death. And her death has helped us. Shown us that we can fight back.”

    Dean and Sally-Anne nodded. Hermione suppressed the urge to sigh. “That still leaves us scrambling to catch up. We haven’t managed to get enough tutors. Aisla is good, but she’s just one witch.”

    Allan shrugged. “She only has a few of us to teach.”

    Hermione frowned. Allan already had his education completed, even if he hadn’t been allowed to take his N.E.W.T.s. And Hermione was almost as advanced, not counting the studying she had done for the Resistance. But Seamus, Dean and the others would need more help. Their education would be hampered. “It’s not just us. If we had a decent alternative, the younger muggleborns wouldn’t have to return to Hogwarts, and hope Dumbledore can protect them better than he protected us.”

    “Colin and Dennis won’t return to Hogwarts,” Dean pointed out. “They’re too gung ho.”

    The two Creeveys were still training, with Justin as their spotter. Hermione pressed her lips together. She didn’t want them to fight, they were too young. Even, as her traitorous mind told her, she had been doing worse at an even younger age. She’d do her best to keep them safe. As lookouts, maybe as couriers. Not on the frontlines.

    “I hope Seamus returns soon,” Dean said.

    The others nodded. They hadn’t heard anything from their friend. It had been deemed too dangerous for him to call back. His contacts in Ireland might be under surveillance by the muggle authorities. If the Resistance lost the muggle world as a safe haven, they were finished. If Seamus succeeded though… everyone knew that the IRA was among the most capable guerilla fighters - or terrorists, depending who you asked. A little bit of Semtex would be enough for a Gemino Charm, and Hermione wouldn’t have to think about how best to use a fertilizer bomb anymore. And she really would prefer to use professionally made detonators, instead of her own designs.

    Getting blown to bits by her own bomb would be a rather ignoble end to her burgeoning career as a freedom fighter.

    *****​

    London, East End, June 29th, 1996

    “A ball?” Hermione Granger asked, frowning at the mirror in her hand.

    “A Summer Ball, at Malfoy Manor,” Ron explained. “On the 27th of July. Dad said that Malfoy has invited all of the rich pureblood families.”

    “He didn’t invite Sirius though,” Harry added. “Not that Sirius would ever attend a social gathering at the Malfoy Manor.”

    Of course he wouldn’t, Hermione thought. Sirius hated Lucius Malfoy, and with good cause - the man had been responsible for Fudge issuing the Kiss-on-Sight order after Sirius’s escape from Azkaban.

    “A ball for Death Eaters and their supporters?” It sounded like such a gathering to her. ‘Bigot Ball’, she thought.

    “Or for possible supporters and sympathisers,” Ron said. “I checked with Neville; his family declined their invitation.”

    “Do you think this is a recruiting effort?”

    “People use those events to make deals and alliances, in business and politics,” Ron said. “So, Malfoy will definitely try to recruit more.”

    “Sirius said actually recruiting for the Death Eaters would be gauche, but he also said that holding a ball in Summer already was gauche. Something about the summer being the season for vacations, not balls,” Harry said,

    “I see.” Hermione frowned. The enemy was recruiting, and the Resistance still had trouble getting more people. “So, how are you doing?”

    “We’re mostly waiting for Fred and George to finish an order for us,” Ron said.

    “You could use the time to do your homework.”

    “Err… “ Ron and Harry laughed, slightly embarrassed, and for a moment Hermione almost forgot that she wouldn’t be joining them at Hogwarts in two months.

    “You’ve been flying and fooling around, hm?” She grinned, a bit wistfully.

    “Training, actually,” Harry said.

    “Quidditch?” Hermione asked, trying to keep the tone light.

    “Defense. Sirius is tutoring us,” Ron said. “In secret. We’re also learning Occlumency.”

    Hermione bit her lower lip. She felt jealous that her friend could learn from an adult with experience in the last war, while she and the rest of the Resistance had to make do with manuals and each other. She buried that feeling though - her friends needed the training, with the Dark Lord trying to kill Harry, and the Resistance would find more instructors as well. Muggles too, if Seamus was successful and they could get weapons.

    “You could join us,” Harry said. “Sirius would train you as well. No one would know.”

    Hermione was tempted. Very tempted. But she told herself that it would be too dangerous. And she had too much to do. And she couldn’t leave the others to be with her friends. She had to set an example. So she shook her head. “I can’t. Too dangerous for you. If something happens to you because of me…”

    Ron looked like he wanted to argue, but Harry nodded. “Alright. But once we can set up a safe location to train…”

    She nodded. She didn’t think they’d manage. But it was a nice thought. And it felt very good to know her friends cared that much about her.

    *****​

    London, Diagon Alley, July 5th, 1996

    Harry Potter stared at the row of ‘Wanted’ posters attached to the wall of the ‘Thin Red Line’. They showed various muggleborn students. Former students, he corrected himself. Hermione’s poster was the most prominent one, offering the highest reward, and they had chosen to draw her as unfavorably as possible - her hair filled the picture and she was sneering more than Malfoy at his worst. The Ministry was really going all out in their manhunt.

    He pulled his father’s invisibility cloak a bit closer around him when he saw the door of the pub opening. A single wizard stepped out of it, pausing to take a deep breath. Harry slipped past the man, and into the pub before the door closed. The smell of beer and smoke made him wish he had cast a Bubble-Head Charm beforehand. How could people stand this stench? Even the Leaky Cauldron wasn’t that bad in the evening.

    He didn’t dwell on the question, but sneaked to the back of the pub, avoiding the tables still occupied by red-robed wizards and witches. As Tonks had told him, the pub was a favourite among Aurors, run by a retired Auror. On the way, he stepped on a bottlecap, right when a witch turned her head towards him to order a last beer from the bartender. He saw her frown and she drew her wand before he could react.

    “Homenum Revelio!”

    The spell washed over him, and he froze. Busted. He remembered the excuse he and Ron had prepared. He was here to look for Tonks, personal matter. To his surprise, the witch blinked, and stared at the crushed cap.

    “Brenda? What are you doing? Trying to blow up the pub?” the wizard at her table said.

    “I thought I noticed a disillusioned intruder.” She pointed at the cap, and Harry carefully took a few steps away. “Something crushed that cap.”

    “Well, unless you blew your spell, there’s no invisible intruder in here,” the other Auror said, grinning.

    Another witch at the next table sneered. “At least her failure didn’t get her partner killed this time.” The Aurors at her table laughed. Brenda snarled at them, and for a moment, Harry thought she would curse them. She didn’t though. Instead she threw a few coins at the bartender, who caught them with a Levitation Charm, and walked out.

    “Stupid bint got beaten by a mudblood,” the other witch muttered, glaring at Brenda’s back before returning her attention to her drink.

    Harry moved towards the back of the pub, choosing a spot in the corner. Now he just had to wait until the pub closed, and the owner was gone. It shouldn’t take too long.

    *****​

    When the bartender had finally left, Harry had been fighting the urge to cough for what had felt like an eternity. He really should have cast a Bubble-Head Charm. After he had recovered his breath, walked to the closest table and pulled a bag of the twins’ latest invention - the wireless ears - from under his sweater. He knelt down and slipped under the table, placing the first on the underside of the top, near the center. The ear adhered and changed color to match the wood. “Test one, test one,” he whispered, then pulled back and stood up. He had a dozen more of the things to place.

    The twins had assured him that the ears would not be affected by the standard privacy spells, being counted as another participant of the supposedly private talk. Dictaquills would note down what was said, on endless scrolls of parchment, inside silenced boxes. The whole setup had been rather expensive, in Harry’s opinion, but Sirius hadn’t even blinked at the cost. If it gave them information about Auror raids, if it saved Hermione, then it was worth every galleon anyway.

    Now he just had to apparate back to Grimmauld Place. He raised his wand.

    He couldn’t apparate. The Pub was warded. He closed his eyes and cursed, bending down to the next table.

    “Ron, I’m stuck here. I’ll have to wait until the owner returns in the morning, to sneak out, or he’ll know someone broke in.”

    He sighed, and went to the booth in the back. It’d be a long and uncomfortable night. Then he thought about Hermione, having to live in hiding, hunted by the Aurors, and felt ashamed for griping about a minor inconvenience. At least he was finally doing something to help her.

    *****​

    London, East End, July 8th, 1996

    “Seamus is back!”

    Hermione, reading the textbook for 7th year Transfiguration, looked up when she heard
    Dean’s shout, a smile breaking out on her face. After Martin Cokes, who had taken over a week to reach the safehouse because he hadn’t known that Apparition and muggle public travel was safe, had returned, Seamus had come back now as well!

    She closed the book and went downstairs. Their redheaded friend was surrounded by the other Resistance members, grinning widely.

    “Seamus! How did it go?” she blurted out.

    Seamus didn’t take offense. “Oh, it went great. Took me a time to talk my cousin around - The years I spent in a ‘Scottish public school’ didn’t do me any favours - but I managed to convince him I wasn’t an English spy. My family moving helped - the rest of my relatives think I’m in trouble with the law. Mum told him something to that effect.”

    Hermione winced. She hadn’t thought of that - and she knew what the IRA did to spies. Seamus had been in greater danger than she thought.

    Dean laughed though. “Well, with your history, everyone would think you’re in trouble.”

    Seamus chuckled. “Anyway, I met with a friend of my cousin. It was like in a spy movie - we were in the middle of nowhere, on a moor even. He was suspicious of me, but once I told him that I wanted to buy a sample of explosives and a detonator, and would pay in gold, he warmed up. I paid too much, but it was worth it. Even if he thinks I’m an idiot.”

    He grew serious. “I didn’t get any help with getting guns though. And I didn’t even ask about instruction. We’ll have to find someone else for that.”

    Hermione nodded. She hadn’t really expected the IRA to teach a bunch of British teenagers, much less share part of their support network. And it would have run the risk of attracting the attention of the British muggle authorities. If they were hunted as terrorists by the muggles as well, they would have lost the war before it started. “We can probably hire a mercenary for that kind of instruction.” She had one in particular in mind, who had written a book about his activities. If he wouldn’t do it, then he would know people who would.

    “Good,” Seamus said. “Here’s the detonator and the Semtex.”

    Hermione took the package. “Radio controlled detonator?”

    “Yes. Seemed the most useful. But give me some time, and I’ll rig up timers too,” Seamus said.

    Hermione nodded. It should be safe enough if he only had a duplicated detonator to work with. She checked the bag. The sample of Semtex was far too small to blow anything up. No wonder the IRA had parted with it. A Gemino Curse would easily multiply it, of course.”Good work, Seamus.”

    “Now we just need a target,“ Allan said. “Like a ball full of Death Eaters.”

    Hermione glared at him. He had been talking about blowing up the ball ever since she had told them about it. “We don’t know if there will be just Death Eaters. And we’re not ready to take that step yet.” She had been making that argument ever since. “We are still too few to wage a war, even a guerilla war, and if we blow up Malfoy Manor, it will be war.”

    Seamus frowned. “Didn’t you find more muggleborns?”

    Hermione sighed. “It’s harder than expected, though part of that is because we are hunted by the Aurors. That makes approaching others more difficult.” Even those sympathetic wouldn’t want to be seen with them.

    “And those older muggleborns who’d be willing to fight are probably hiding already,” Allan said.

    “And you know old people,” Dean cut in, “they will want to take over anyway. Even though we have done more than they thought of.”

    Hermione knew that this was a likely outcome. And she knew that she was fed up with following adults who didn’t do as much as they could. Or hid information from her. And she certainly wouldn’t trust any stranger. Not without them signing the enchanted contract she had created for the Resistance. Anyone who broke it would lose all the memories of the Resistance. It wouldn’t work on muggles though.

    “We’re doing fine so far,” Allan said. “And once we use the explosives we just received, they’ll know what we are capable of.”

    That wasn’t exactly a good enough reason to kill people, in Hermione’s opinion. “We’re not going to kill people just so we can impress older muggleborns.”

    “Of course not. It’s just a side benefit of killing Death Eaters,” Allan said, smiling.

    Dean and Seamus, and the Creeveys eagerly agreed, laughing.

    “Don’t talk lightly of killing!” Hermione said. “You haven’t killed anyone yet.” She had, and had suffered from nightmares.

    That sobered the group up. Allan frowned at her, but she stared at him until he looked away.

    “We need more time, and more information,” she said. No one disagreed. At least out loud.

    “Now, let’s celebrate Seamus’s successful return!” Dean said.

    As everyone grabbed drinks, Hermione forced herself to join in. She couldn’t afford to isolate herself. Even if she wanted to return to studying. And talk with Harry and Ron.

    *****​

    London, Newham, July 15th, 1996

    Hermione Granger felt nervous when she walked towards the Café overlooking a park. She wasn’t afraid of Aurors spotting her, not with her wig and sunglasses concealing her identity without magic, but she couldn’t help fearing that Seamus’s contact with the IRA had been noticed by the muggle authorities. She didn’t think they could have tracked him to their safehouse, but she was glad she had Justin with her, to provide backup.

    A former mercenary and current author, she corrected herself. He was over 70 years old now, and hadn’t been active in over 15 years. As far as she knew, at least. She spotted him at once - he did look like the picture on the back cover of ‘A Tour in Africa’.

    “Good morning, Colonel,” she greeted him. Justin, at her side, nodded.

    She noticed that Colonel O’Bannon’s eyes widened slightly. “Miss Smith? I confess I had expected someone a bit… older.” He sounded amused.

    Hermione took a seat. “This is Mister Brown.” She nodded towards Justin.

    “Good morning, sir.” Justin’s upper class accent hadn’t been affected by his years at Hogwarts, and Hermione saw the Irish mercenary take notice.

    “Thank you for agreeing to meet with us,” she said, before ordering. A discreet privacy spell followed.

    “For that much money I’d meet with almost anyone,” he said, grinning.

    She nodded. Apparently the restored gold doubloon they had sent with the letter asking for a meeting was worth more than Hermione or Sirius had thought.

    “I don’t suppose you’re just here to interview me about my books.”

    “I’ve read them,” she said. “I like your style, though they were a tad light on military knowledge. But we’re not here to talk about your literary career.”

    He nodded. The waiter arrived with their order.

    “What did you want to talk about then?” he asked. He was smiling, but in a guarded way.

    “We’re looking for instruction in small arms and small unit tactics.”

    He chuckled. “And what would you need that for? Are you trying to follow in my footsteps? You’re a bit young for that, dear, and it’s not exactly a profession for girls.” He nodded at Justin. “You’d could join the British Army for a stint. Or Sandhurst.” O’Bannon leaned back. “It’s not glamorous, it’s not romantic, and if you can pay me in gold just to meet me, it certainly won’t pay better than what you’ve been doing.”

    He probably thought that they had stolen the gold coin. Or that Justin and her were eloping, and he had raided his parents’ safe. Hermione pulled her sunglasses off and stared at the man. “Colonel. We’re not about to play mercenaries. We don’t have any illusions about war. We have enemies who want to kill us, and we need training to survive.”

    He lost his smile, meeting her eyes. “If you have the money to hire instructors, you could as well hire bodyguards. Or people who solve your problem for you.” He didn’t sound convinced, but he at least sounded as if he took them a bit more seriously.

    “That’s not an option.”

    He raised his eyebrows. “Really?”

    “Yes.” Hermione wished she could tell the man about magic. But she really didn’t want to be seen as threatening the Statute of Secrecy. “We’ve got the money to pay anyone willing to train us. But hiring mercenaries to fight our battles is, sadly, not an option.”

    O’Bannon’s eyes narrowed again. “I don’t work with terrorists, and neither do my men,” he said in a cold voice.

    Hermione had been afraid of that. It was a logical assumption. “We’re not terrorists. We’re about to fight terrorists. Outside Britain.”

    “Girl, don’t lie to me. If you were doing that, you could hire mercenaries for the job.”

    Hermione sighed, and drew her wand. “Do you know what this is?”

    He looked confused. “A stick?”

    She pointed it at him.

    “Obliviate.”

    While the man’s eyes lost focus, she looked at Justin. “Plan B.” They should have started with that, but Hermione didn’t like to lie to people she wanted to work with.

    They waited until the man blinked.

    “Colonel O’Bannon? Thank you for meeting with us,” Justin said.

    “Ah.. yes?”

    “Are you well, sir?” Hermione sounded concerned.

    “Just a … I’m alright.” O’Bannon smiled. “You piqued my curiosity. Not many would pay me a gold doubloon to meet me.”

    Justin grinned. “We wanted to ensure that you’d not dismiss us as a bunch of kids. Money talks.” He leaned forward. “We need your help, sir. I’ve recently inherited some property in a part of Africa you’re familiar with. It’s sadly currently occupied by some bandits. We need to hire a few specialists to secure it, and at least one instructor who can teach the locals to defend it afterwards.” He grew serious. “My father tried to deal with the local authorities, if you can call those bastards that, but that didn’t work out. I don’t want to do the same mistakes.”

    “I see,” O’Bannon smiled. “I can put you in contact with a few good men.”

    Hermione exchanged a glance with Justin. They smiled.

    *****​

    London, Waterloo Station, July 17th, 1996

    “Take a look at this, Hermione!” Ron Weasley smiled, and pulled out the rolls of parchment the Dictaquills had filled since Harry had placed the wireless ears.

    His friend’s eyes widened when she skimmed them. “Wow…” she looked up at the two boys and smiled. “Thank you! Thank you!”

    Ron was certain that if they hadn’t been sitting at a table in a restaurant, she’d have hugged them. She might still do it, he realised.

    “But… wasn’t that dangerous? How dd you manage to get those?”

    “It wasn’t dangerous at all,” Harry said. “I used my invisibility cloak..” Ron’s friend proceeded to tell Hermione in detail how he had placed the wireless ears. Ron knew that it hadn’t been quite as easy as Harry told it, but neither of them wanted their friend to worry about them.

    Hermione nodded. “That was a very smart idea, to bug the Aurors.”

    Ron smiled. “Just a thought I had, when I saw the extendable ears.” Her beaming smile at him felt very good.

    “There’s some speculation among Aurors about Malfoy’s ball,” Harry cut in. “They think it might be a recruiting attempt.”

    Hermione nodded. “That is almost certain.”

    “They think the Dark Lord himself could be in attendance,” Ron said.

    Hermione’s eyes widened. “Really?”

    She started to go through the scrolls. Ron exchanged a glance with Harry. “You didn’t plan to, you know… attack the ball?”

    Hermione looked up. “What? No. But someone else might. We’re not exactly the only muggleborns who have gone into hiding. We’re just the ones hunted by the Aurors.”

    “Going after students…” Harry scoffed.

    “Former students,” Hermione corrected him. “We’ve been banned from Hogwarts.”

    That was not a topic Ron liked to talk about. “Yes. So… how are things going?”

    Hermione sighed. “We’re still organising. It’s a bit like a dorm, right now. Just without teachers.”

    That sounded like a nice setup to Ron. Although… “And you’re acting as a prefect, right?”

    She nodded, frowning. “I think that description fits well enough.”

    Ron looked at Harry. Both grinned. That was their Hermione.

    She glared at them, but not for long.

    *****​

    London, East End, July 17th, 1996

    Hermione Granger felt guilty about lying to her best friends when she arrived back at the safehouse. Despite her claims, she had made plans to attack the Summer Ball. She hadn’t been expecting to actually do it, though. It had just been a mental exercise. This new information though…

    She entered the ‘living room’, where the Resistance members tended to hang out.

    “How was your double-date?” Seamus asked, grinning.

    She rolled her eyes at him, but didn’t react further. Taking a seat at the dinner table, she took a deep breath. She didn’t like what she was about to do, but she had to. “I’ve got some new information. Aurors speculate that the Dark Lord himself might be present at the Summer Ball.

    Allan jerked, and she knew he’d be smiling. “That changes things. If we can kill the Dark Lord with a bomb...”

    Everyone perked up, as Hermione had known they would. “It’s just a rumour. Speculation,” She said. “We don’t know if he’ll be there.”

    Allan scoffed. “Even if he isn’t, it’s a ball full of Death Eaters and their supporters.”

    “And their families. Civilians,” Hermione pointed out. The argument was now very familiar.

    “Some civilians,” Dean said. “Their gold will pay for the deaths of muggleborns.”

    “And for the deaths of ‘blood traitors’,” Seamus added. “But most important is the Dark Lord. If we have a chance to kill him, it’s worth it.”

    Hermione didn’t like it, but she had to agree. Everything had started with the Dark Lord’s return. Without him, there wouldn’t have been an appeasement policy. The purebloods would have hidden their bigotry still. They’d be going to Hogwarts in six weeks, instead of hiding in muggle Britain. She slowly nodded. “I agree. We still aren’t ready for a war, but the chance to kill the Dark Lord is an opportunity we can’t let pass.” And if they succeeded, there wouldn’t be a war. She suspected that even if they managed to kill the Dark Lord, he might return from death - he had done it before, after all. But it would take him time, and the Death Eaters would collapse without him to lead them, like in 1981. She didn’t say that though.

    That surprised the others. Seamus even gaped at her while Allan smiled widely.

    “We’ll bomb the ball. After midnight, so any children attending will have left already.” Hopefully with their caretakers. No one opposed that statement. She took a deep breath. “We’ll need a detonator, and we’ll need to be able to levitate quite a lot of weight.”

    As she laid out her plan, Allan’s smile grew, and Seamus’s grin widened. Hermione hid her own feelings. As horrible as it was, this could end the war before it started.

    And, as much as she hated herself for feeling that way, a lot of those purebloods attending the ball deserved it.

    *****​

    Hogwarts, July 20th, 1996

    Albus Dumbledore looked at the assembled Order of the Phoenix. There were so few, he thought, not for the first time. So few left from the last war. They fit into his office with but one expansion charm. He didn’t sigh though, but kept smiling. Confidently. Reassuringly.

    “My friends, I thank you for coming.” He stood in front of them. “You all know the situation: The Ministry is still foolishly insisting on persecuting muggleborns, instead of fighting the Dark Lord and his followers. Although we’ve been making progress in the Wizengamot. More and more members are realising just what kind of wizard the Dark Lord is, and what would await them under his rule. His attempts to influence them have grown cruder lately, after our fight in the Ministry.”

    “They wouldn’t fight him for being a murdering bastard, but they’ll fight him for being a rude bastard.” Alastor sneered. “Bunch of worthless wankers.”

    Sirius chuckled, and Albus continued before the young wizard could say something even more inflammatory. “A few more weeks, and we’ll have a majority in the Wizengamot.”

    “Unless Malfoy manages to bribe more people at his ball,” Elphias pointed out. “He’s invited everyone who hasn’t been proclaiming their support for you.”

    “Is anyone among us attending the ball?” Remus asked. “It would be useful to know what happened there.”

    Alastor scoffed. “As if they’ll let anyone they’re not certain about attend the real meeting. And if we had a spy there, we’d certainly not mention it to you. That’s how spies get killed!”

    “Do you think there’s a traitor among us?” Sirius asked, in a dangerous tone.

    Albus smiled gently, even though he agreed with his friend. While he trusted the members of the Order, not many of them were accomplished in Occlumency. “I trust everyone here. But there are ways to extract information even from the unwilling.” He wasn’t that concerned about the Summer Ball, even without any of his spies being present. Severus would be able to inform him about any new developments later.

    Sirius nodded, accepting that.

    “Nymphadora, how goes the recruiting?”

    “It’s ‘Tonks’!” she muttered, glaring at him for using her first name. In a normal voice, she continued: “Not that well. Most Aurors I talked to, carefully, don’t like muggleborns much. Not after one of us was killed by Hermione.”

    “Bloody Death Eater deserved it!” Sirius said.

    Albus knew that Harry and Mister Weasley were in contact with Miss Granger; only an utter fool would expect them to abandon their friend, but he didn’t know if Sirius was privy to what they were talking about. His remark though seemed to indicate that though.

    Young Nymphadora coughed. “Anyway, I tried to talk to a few former Aurors. Muggleborns, who had been kicked out. But some are hiding, and those I met don’t trust me.” She winced. “I’m not certain they’re trusting anyone working for the Ministry. One almost hexed me.”

    Albus nodded. He knew the last year had caused a lot of resentment among muggleborns, and quite understandably, but it was still worth to reach out to them. That they were aggressive, even to Nymphadora, was a bad sign. As were former Aurors going into hiding. Things were already quite volatile, after attacks by Imperiused muggleborns. The damage even one misguided man could do was considerable.

    He had to keep an eye on Miss Granger too, he knew. And on the group of students she was part of. It would be difficult though, since he doubted that she’d trust him. Albus would have to work through Harry and Mister Weasley. At least Harry could protect his mind better now. To think he had made such progress, after Severus had stopped teaching the boy…

    “Thank you, Nymphadora. Now, how about our supplies? Were you able to acquire the potions we need, Emmeline?”

    The witch winced. “I did, but the prices have risen considerably in the last month.”

    “People with more sense than most are stocking up, of course,” Alastor grunted. “‘fcourse, it doesn’t take much to have more sense than most.”

    Albus sighed when a few more members took this as an insult. They were correct, but their bickering was proving Alastor correct as well. It looked like it’d be a long and tiresome meeting.

    *****​

    London, No. 12 Grimmauld Place, July 18th, 1996

    “I didn’t expect you to visit. Much less when Harry isn’t around.”

    Sirius was smiling, but his tone showed his surprise at Hermione Granger’s arrival.

    “I can’t stay long,” she said. “I just came to get more supplies, and to ask you something.”

    “And my hopes are dashed once more!”,” Sirius said, handing her a bag.

    She chuckled, briefly, at his joke, then met his eyes. “I wanted to check that none of our friends is attending Malfoy’s ball.”

    Sirius raised his eyebrows. “To my knowledge, none of my friends and colleagues will attend the ball.”

    She nodded. “Good.”

    “Should I hold a dinner party myself, at that date, to ensure no one tries to crash Malfoy’s party?”

    “That’s a good idea.” She didn’t have to say anything else. Sirius’s grim expression showed he had understood.

    “I’ll never forgive you if you get killed. Harry would be devastated.”

    “I know. I’ll be safe.” More or less.

    Sirius frowned, but didn’t press her further.

    *****​

    Wiltshire, Britain, July 27th, 1996

    Hermione Granger could see Malfoy Manor in the distance. It was brightly illuminated, even shortly before midnight. She took a closer look through her binoculars. She didn’t see anything suspicious.

    “Are you ready?” She turned to Seamus and Dean.

    The two former Gryffindors nodded, astride their brooms, with a large chest floating between them. “Remember to get enough distance before you trigger it. Too close and you’ll get caught in the shockwave.”

    “It’s not a nuke, Hermione,” Seamus said, grinning. “Just a chest full of Semtex!”

    “Allan?”

    The former Ravenclaw smiled, holding up a bottle. “I’m ready.”

    “Be careful, everyone,” she said.

    “Always!” Dean said, as the three boys started to fly towards the manor, levitating the chest between Dean’s and Seamus’s brooms.

    Hermione bit her lower lip nervously as she saw her friends disappear in the dark sky. She was worrying about them, and about her plan. If she had miscalculated the blast radius…

    *****​

    Wiltshire, Britain, July 28th, 1996

    Daphne Greengrass forced herself to keep smiling when she left the ballroom in Malfoy Manor. Her idiot of a little sister was simply too stupid to listen to her, or their parents. The squirt had accepted Draco’s invitation to show her the garden. Daphne didn’t know what was worse, her sister’s naiveté, or Draco’s willingness to flirt with her. The two had danced so often together, Parkinson had left the ball in a huff. Not that that had been a loss. Tracey had gone home as well, or rather, had been sent home by her parents. Which had left Daphne bereft of intelligent company.

    And now they were out in the garden. Her parents were in a ‘private talk’, so it fell to Daphne to act as a chaperone. Which meant she had to spend even more time with Draco, and without anyone else to act as a buffer. For a girl who should have gone home already. Daphne certainly hadn’t been allowed to stay up that long when she had debuted! A Summer Ball was still a stupid idea anyway. It wasn’t even on Solstice!

    “Those trees were imported from the Amazon basin, and specially enchanted to grow in the colder climate of England,” Draco was telling them.

    “Oh… how exotic!” Astoria chirped.

    Daphne rolled her eyes. Trees… were they Hufflepuffs, or Slytherins? Who cared about trees? “How fascinating,” she said in the most bored tone she could manage.

    “Daphne!” Astoria glared at her, but she simply smiled at her little sister.

    “Yes?”

    “Oh! You’re impossible!” If she hadn’t been wearing her new dancing shoes, Daphne was certain her sister would have stomped her feet. Or tried to step on hers.

    Draco chuckled. “We’ve got a pond with various magical fishes too. Let me show you!”

    “Oh!” Astoria chirped.

    Daphne sighed, and followed them towards the small lake at the boundary of the estate. She doubted they’d see any actual fish.

    She had been right, she thought a few minutes later, staring at a small lake.

    “Look at the moon’s reflection in the water!” her sister exclaimed.

    Daphne rolled her eyes and sighed. She was about to make another sarcastic comment when she saw a group of wizards appear at the edge of the lake, almost hidden by the bushes there. In the moonlight she recognized the robes. Obliviators. But why would they…

    Behind her, night turned to day when the manor exploded in a giant fireball.
     
  26. TheAkashicTraveller

    TheAkashicTraveller Making the rounds.

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    Well shit. Hermione really should have tried to make it a mixed group, keeping it only muggleborn attitudes are just going to keep getting worse. Eventually there'll just be two groups of bigots fighting each other.
     
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  27. Pahan

    Pahan Know what you're doing yet?

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    "I mean, if it was 'cause he, like, grabbed my butt, or something, but over the Um-bitch who wasn't even there? Like, ugh! Totally ugh!"
    You should've seen the first draft. That one had horns.
    "Wow! Amazing fireworks!" Astoria stared.

    "Imported from Ireland," Draco explained.

    "And the debris? Also imported?" Daphne posed, after casting a Shield Charm to stop the rain of flaming construction materials.

    "No: those are," Draco paused to put on sunglasses, despite it being midnight, "domestic."
     
  28. Pahan

    Pahan Know what you're doing yet?

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    Welcome to the wonderful world of group polarization.
     
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  29. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Versed in the lewd.

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    Welcome to war you mean, especially civil war. Still, at this point, the "innocent victims" basically were people who didn't think there was anything wrong with attending a party thrown by the right hand of a genocidal Dark Lord.

    Things will get worse, of course, but trying to equalise the Resistance and the Death Eaters is like saying "the Western Allies were as bad as the Nazis, both killed a lot of innocent people".
     
  30. theqwopingone

    theqwopingone [hopefully a] journeyman rationalist.

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    and that's like saying that all germans are evil, it would be best if she had a way to force them to acknowledge that "those pure-bloods, they're alright, those other pure-bloods, they're assholes".
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2016
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