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Harry Potter and the Spygirl (Harry Potter/Spyboy) (Complete)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Starfox5, Feb 27, 2015.

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  1. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Harry Potter and the Spygirl

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

    Author's notes: This crossover only uses the core idea of Spyboy, it doesn't actually use any Spyboy characters. It doesn't feature realistic gun fights, instead it uses Spyboy's over the top "Gun Fu" (head shots done while doing backflips and similar antics). It doesn't feature Spyboy technology. It does features said "Gun Fu" as being equal to or better in a fight than most magic. If any of that offends you, please don't read further. The Walther PPK is used because a) it's a rather small gun, feasible to be used by a girl and b) it was James Bond's gun.

    Summary: Her father had told Harry that if Hermione was in danger he should hold that box in front of her and push the button. He'd never have expected that a series of flashing lights would transform Hermione into "Spygirl". Fortunately, the dozen Death Eaters facing them hadn't expected that either. Harry Potter/Spyboy crossover.

    Cover Art
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  2. Threadmarks: Chapter 1: Deadly Flashes
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Harry Potter and the Spygirl

    Chapter 1: Deadly Flashes

    Standing in the office of the Headmaster, waiting for Dumbledore to return, and thinking back at that moment in the Department of Mysteries, Harry Potter still wasn’t entirely sure if he should feel awed or afraid. Or both.

    There had been hints, he realized. 12 year old Hermione Granger had managed to dodge a mountain troll’s attacks in a cramped bathroom without getting hit at all. She had knocked out Draco Malfoy with a single punch in their third year. Pomfrey had to keep the idiot in the infirmary for a few days to heal his broken jaw. Hermione had proven to be very nimble on her feet, despite her aversion to Quidditch, and was the member of the Defense Association that was the hardest to hit with a spell. And she had organized a clandestine combat training group under the nose of a sadist inquisitor. Still, who would have known what would happen when he made her look at a box with flashing lights? Apart from her father, of course. Harry had gotten the box from him before boarding the Hogwarts Express for his fifth year.

    That the Grangers had been there to say their goodbyes had been a surprise for everyone since Hermione had spent the last part of her vacation at Grimmauld Place 12, with Harry and Ron, and had gone with them and the rest of the Weasleys to King’s Cross Station on September 1st. Hermione had been talking with her mother, obviously happy to see her again before going off to Hogwarts, and her father had taken Harry to the side for a more private talk.

    Mister Granger had looked so serious - intimidating, really - that Harry had been about to swear to the man that he and Hermione were just friends, and that he didn’t need to worry - he had heard about the talk fathers supposedly had with the boyfriends of their daughters. The man had waved his explanation off though. Instead he had handed him a small black box with a row of small colored glass bulbs set in one side and a button on top, and made him swear that he’d carry it with him at all times, and that if Hermione ever was in danger, he’d hold it in front of her face, light bulbs facing her, and push the button. It was a strange thing to promise, but Harry had been sure no one facing Mister Granger right then would have objected. He had never known dentists were so scary.

    Hermione had noticed his nervousness, and had scolded her father for scaring “poor Harry”, claiming he’d never hurt her. She hadn’t claimed they were just friends though, a fact Harry had missed back then, but now remembered.

    He glanced at her, standing on his right side, still covered in blood that was slowly drying, looking alert and tense despite the fact they were in one of the safest places in Britain, and remembered what had happened less than an hour ago.

    *****​

    “Now give me the prophecy, or we start using wands.”

    Harry and his friends, intent on saving Sirius Black, had run straight into a trap by Voldemort. They were facing a dozen of his most trusted Death Eaters, and Harry was sure the only thing that prevented the masked dark wizards from killing him and his friends right away was the prophecy orb he was holding in his hand. Voldemort had planned this trap to get that orb, and his followers would not dare to risk damaging it. But if he didn’t hand over the orb as Lucius Malfoy had demanded then they would try to use his friends to force him to. Harry knew he couldn’t let them harm his friends, but he saw no way out. Then he remembered the small box he had carried around with him every day since the year had started.

    Even if they all died due to his foolishness, at least he’d not have broken that promise. He pulled the box out of his pocket, with one hand. “Hermione.” His soft word made her look at him, and he pushed the button. Bright lights flashed in a dizzying array of colors, causing most of the death eaters and his friends to jerk and raise their wands. Hermione shivered, blinking, then Harry could see her expression change from surprise to determination and her left hand dipped into her enchanted pocket while she turned towards the assembled Death Eaters again.

    Malfoy kept the other Death Eaters from attacking and drew Harry’s attention away from Hermione right when she was pulling something out of her pocket. “What was that, Potter? A pitiful attempt at a diversion? Are you not curious at all about the content of the prophecy? Do you know how it shaped your li…”

    Malfoy’s words were cut off by a loud crack and a hole appeared in the man’s forehead, right between his eyes. The wizard was just starting to fall down when another cracking noise was heard and the Death Eater next to him, still wearing his mask, jerked, blood pouring from his throat.

    “Scatter!” Harry shouted to his friends, diving to the side and sending a stunner at the closest Death Eater. In an instant the stand-off had turned into a chaotic battle. Luna sidestepped a green spell and ducked behind the shelf next to her. Neville jumped back and sent a stunner at the robed wizard behind Malfoy while Ginny dropped to the ground, then rolled towards Luna. Ron blew up a shelf of prophecies, filling the room with a cacophony of voices as the prophecy orbs shattered and released their content. And Hermione… Hermione ran towards the remaining Death Eaters, the pistol in her left hand firing rapidly. She jumped over a killing curse, flipping over, shooting the caster while in the air, and landed on her feet in a crouch. Another dark wizard cast a brown curse at her, which she narrowly avoided by throwing herself to the side and rolling away. Two more shots rang out and the man who had tried to curse her was falling down, bleeding.

    Harry barely avoided a body-binder while staring at his best friend ramming her shoulder into another robed enemy, dropping something in the process - a pistol magazine, his seeker-trained eyes told him. While he hit the one who had attacked him with a stunner Hermione stuck the now reloaded gun under the mask of the man she had just tackled and shot him in his throat. Blood splattered the front of her, but she didn’t seem to pay it any heed. The wounded Death Eater was clawing at his neck and making a horrible gurgling sound while she whirled him around and used him as a shield to block two more curses from the man’s friends. Another bullet took down one of them while a kick propelled her now dead human shield at the other wizard, causing both to fall to the ground. Hermione shot the man into the head before he could get up again even while she was dodging more spells with acrobatics Harry thought were more appropriate for a gymnastics tournament than a pitched battle. Then he was forced to focus on duelling the Death Eater he had stunned earlier - someone had ennervated him.

    The next seconds felt like minutes to Harry and were spent dodging and casting, shielding and cursing. The Death Eater - Harry had no idea who it was, just that it was a man - was not that fast nor that powerful, but he had more experience in duelling than Harry, allowing him to last longer than expected. While they were duelling he heard several more shots, and caught a glimpse of at least another robed enemy falling to the ground.

    Harry was just about to break his opponent’s shield with a piercing hex and then follow up with a stunner when Hermione threw herself at the man from behind, startling him and causing him to drop his shield in the process. Harry could only stare, with his mouth open, while the girl snapped the man’s wand and then shot him in the face twice at point blank range, straight through his mask. Both went down to the ground.

    The man hadn’t stopped twitching before she rolled off him and came up in a crouch, pistol raised and looking for her next victim. Harry suddenly realized that there were only two Death Eaters left, Bellatrix Lestrange and a masked man. Another shot rang out and the man went down, gripping his throat and choking on his own blood. Bellatrix had been fighting Neville, Ron, Ginny and Luna, and holding her own against the four - more than her own. She was still unhurt, but Ron was clutching a bleeding leg, though he managed to keep up a shield, and Neville was twitching, probably from the after-effects of a cruciatus. Harry remembered his own brush with that vile spell and shivered. Neville’s spells were going wide but he kept casting, screaming in anger and pain, at the woman who had destroyed his family.

    The dark witch had been cackling with mad joy, but Harry could see her eyes widen when she finally realized that all her fellow Death Eaters were down - dead, Harry knew, but he didn’t want to think about that right then - and she was all alone. With a screech she sprinted for the door, several spells and a bullet hitting her shield, but not causing it to collapse.

    Hermione ran after her and Harry followed, shouting to Luna and Ginny to take care of the other boys’ wounds. A killing curse forced the two pursuers to dodge, and gave Bellatrix enough time to reach the elevator. Before the doors closed though Harry managed to break her shield with a rather overpowered piercing curse, and Hermione shot several times, the last shot stopped by the doors.

    “Did you hit her?” Harry asked, panting.

    “I am positive that I hit her twice. Her death is not certain though.” Hermione answered in a cold, controlled voice. She kept running and Harry followed.

    They found Bellatrix in the atrium, half inside, half outside the elevator, broken eyes staring at the ceiling, her wand on the floor of the elevator, in the middle of a large pool of blood. Harry stared at the sight, then jumped when Hermione shot the apparently already dead woman in the head. He gaped at his best female friend, but before he could say anything - he didn’t know what he could, or should say - his scar started to hurt. Voldemort had arrived.

    The Dark Lord strode into the atrium as if he owned the place, his arrogance evident in his stride. Whatever he had been about to say was left unsaid though, since Hermione started shooting as soon as she saw him. Harry wasn’t sure if she hit him, but Voldemort cast a shield and stepped to the side. He moved fast, and with surprising agility, but the boy thought he might have gotten hit. Harry himself moved forward, casting spell after spell. If he and Hermione wanted to survive this then they had to keep the Dark Lord too busy reacting to focus on either of them.

    A green killing curse was launched at Harry, and he barely managed to dodge behind the fountain, which was blown up when the next spell hit it. Hermione, behind a pillar to the side, threw something at the dark wizard, which blew up shortly afterwards. Harry felt the force of the blast even behind the fountain’s remains, but when he leaned around the corner of the fountain to look at Voldemort the man was still standing, a protego in front of him. Hermione was reloading again, or so Harry thought, when the pillar she was taking cover behind was shattered from the next spell of their enemy. Harry heard her cry out, hurt by debris, and rage filled him.

    He stood up, shouting a piercing curse at the reborn murderer. At the same time Voldemort cast another killing curse at him. As it had happened in the graveyard a year ago the two spells collided, and a golden cage sprang up around the two duelling wizards. Harry barely noticed Hermione shooting again, nor saw her bullets be stopped by the golden barrier. All his attention was on Voldemort as they fought for dominance over the brother wands. His scar hurt, bled even, his body was so tense he felt like his muscles were trying to rip his tendons off his bones, but he was not about to give in. Inch by inch he forced the glowing ball of magical energy that was trapped between the two wand tips towards Voldemort, his passion, love, and rage driving him on.

    Around them more people had arrived, some wearing auror robes, some in sleep wear, like the Minister for Magic, all gaping at the sight in front of them. Hermione was holding another grenade in her hand, and had her gun ready, waiting for an opportunity to use either against Voldemort. It never came. When Dumbledore arrived, with what looked like most of his Order of the Phoenix, Voldemort snarled, flicked his wand to the side and apparated away while the golden cage collapsed and the trapped spell energies blew up in a colorful display of magic, covering his escape.

    Harry fell to his knees, shaking and panting, and Hermione rushed to his side, checking him for injuries while around them everyone was shouting about the Dark Lord’s return, even Fudge. When an auror spotted the corpse of Bellatrix Lestrange the noise grew even louder.

    Harry noticed Dumbledore stepping up to him, and wearily looked up at him. “Headmaster… I had a vision of Voldemort torturing…” then he spotted Padfoot behind Dumbledore and relief filled him. Sirius was alive, and unhurt! He hadn’t been captured and tortured by Voldemort. While he hugged the animagus, Hermione addressed Dumbledore.

    “Sir, we encountered an ambush by twelve Death Eaters in the Hall of Prophecies. All were neutralized, but the last one ran and we couldn’t stop her until she had reached the elevator. We suffered two wounded. Neither was in critical condition but both need medical attention.” His friend spoke calmly and in a composed, almost clinical manner.

    “Neutralized…?” Dumbledore asked, eyebrows rising, while Madam Bones, Head of the DMLE, was sending aurors and healers down to the Hall of Prophecies.

    “Given the demonstrated capability of the enemies to recover from stunners and body binds it was necessary to use lethal means to remove them from combat.” Hermione sounded like she was answering a particularly stupid question at school.

    That seemed to shake the Headmaster. “You killed twelve Death Eaters?” He sounded disbelieving.

    “Yes, Sir.”

    Dumbledore shook his head, looking older than he had just a bit ago, then glanced around. Fudge was alternatively babbling about the Dark Lord and shouting orders no one seemed to follow. Aurors were levitating bodies in Death Eater garments up to the atrium. And the three of them were the center of attention. He glanced at the prophecy orb Harry was still holding. “Is that what he wanted?” the old wizard asked in a low voice. Harry nodded. Dumbledore sighed, then presented a sock to Harry. “Take this portkey. It’ll transport you to my office. I’ll join you there as soon as I have settled things here.” Before Harry could take the sock Hermione had gripped his arm and Padfoot had wrapped himself around his legs.

    “I’ll go with him. I’ll not leave him alone.” Her tone made it clear she’d not accept anything else. Padfoot barked, somehow managing to convene the same meaning. The headmaster seemed to accept that, nodding after a brief pause. Seconds later the two teenagers and the dog were whisked away to Hogwarts.

    *****​

    And there the three of them still were. Sirius had transformed back as soon as they had arrived - Harry flat on his stomach, the other two landing on their feet - and hugged Harry so hard he had trouble to breathe. Then he had scolded him for taking such a risk, then praised him for standing up to Voldemort. And then he had hugged him again, and restarted the sequence. Harry hadn’t managed more than telling his godfather how much he cared for him, and that he had seen no other choice. Hermione had been standing at their side, keeping an eye on both the windows and the door. Standing guard, Harry realized. With her clothes and face splattered with blood - pure blood, a silly part of his brain insisted - her cold eyes and her gun and wand in hand she was a scary sight.

    Harry didn’t know what to make of his best friend who had suddenly turned into a killing machine straight out of an action movie. And so he kept talking to Sirius, putting together the events of the evening from the Order’s side. They were interrupted by Hermione when Sirius mentioned how the Order had been notified by Dumbledore and immediately had traveled to the Ministry. “Professor Snape was aware of our departure for London hours before you arrived. Someone must have delayed relaying that information to the rest of the Order.”

    That set the two wizards thinking, but before they could form a good theory Dumbledore arrived in his office. He looked worn and older than any of the three had ever seen him. He sat down behind his desk and nodded at the phoenix greeting him with a thrill.

    “It’s good to be back, despite the circumstances.” the Headmaster stated, more to himself than to the three people waiting. Finally looking at them over the rim of his glasses, he continued “I have been reinstated as the Headmaster of the school, and I expect to return to the office of Chief Warlock as well within the next few days.” After a short pause, he sighed. “I am sorry to say that all Death Eaters at the Ministry were dead. I have failed you, allowing you to be forced to take lives in defense of yourself.”

    Harry didn’t know what to think or feel about that. He hadn’t killed anyone directly, but he certainly had helped, even after knowing what Hermione would do. With the excitement of the fighting wearing off, he felt numb. Then he remembered Hermione - she had to feel even worse. At least he hoped she did. Glancing at her sent a chill down his spine. Hermione didn’t show any emotion other than a cold smile, as if she was proud of her deed.

    “If the information Professor Snape had would have reached the Order of the Phoenix in time, you could have stopped the ambush before we even reached the ministry. He knew of our plans when we rode off on the thestrals and it took us hours to reach London. This indicates either a failure in your organisation, or deliberate sabotage.” Hermione stated.

    “Professor Snape has my complete trust.” Dumbledore answered, but even Harry could see he seemed a bit disturbed by the implications. Or maybe he was still shocked by the fact that twelve Death Eaters had been killed by six teenagers. Or rather, one teenager.

    “Miss Granger, I heard you were responsible for the death of a dozen people, and you used a muggle weapon.”

    “Correct, Sir. A Walther PPK.”

    “You showed a quite remarkable proficiency with that weapon. Almost unheard of in a girl your age, much less in a witch who has spent the last 5 years at Hogwarts.” Harry suddenly noticed that Dumbledore had his wand in hand, and seemed quite tense.

    “Correct Sir. While I am not allowed to go into details I can tell you that my training started at a very young age.”

    Dumbledore looked at his phoenix, who thrilled. Harry felt his spirit lift. Hermione showed no reaction, which seemed to reassure the Headmaster somewhat.

    “You seem a very different person than the Miss Granger I know.” After a glance at Harry, Dumbledore added “Or the one we know.”

    “Correct Sir. A side effect of my training to function better in combat situation.”

    Hermione met Dumbledore’s eyes, and he gasped, then looked away after several seconds.

    “I see. Remarkable. And all without magic.” Dumbledore sounded sad rather than impressed, at least to Harry. “You’ve taken it upon you to protect your friend.”

    “Correct, Sir. Against any threat.” Hermione bared her teeth in what could be called a smile if one was blind and very generous, in Harry’s opinion. A short pause followed, during which Hermione and the Headmaster stared into each other’s eyes again.

    “Can we now talk about this prophecy Harry and his friends almost died for? We guarded it for a year, and Voldemort himself tried to get it, going to great pains to have Harry take it, so I think it’s time to find out what it states - or is that, reveal what it states, Albus?” Sirius’ voice had an undercurrent of anger. Harry suddenly remembered the initials of the recipient of the prophecy. They matched the Headmaster’s...

    “That would be a sound course of action, Sir. Lack of proper intelligence has already caused a very dangerous situation today. Not sharing the information would be extremely unwise.” Harry wasn’t sure, but he had the impression Hermione had just threatened the Headmaster. He wasn’t sure with what though.

    Sighing, the old wizard agreed and cast a really impressive number of privacy and detection spells. That Hermione didn’t seem to pay much attention to the spells worried Harry even more than her cold-blooded killing. Then the prophecy was revealed, and Harry forgot about his concerns for his friends, reeling from the shocking news he had just gotten.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  3. Threadmarks: Chapter 2: Deadly Weapons
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Chapter 2: Deadly Weapons

    Harry hadn’t taken the news that well, but with Sirius and Hermione there to calm him down - more Sirius, to be honest, Hermione’s hug had come after a bit of hesitation, and she seemed to be rather more awkward at comforting him than usual - he hadn’t blown his top and listened to the Headmaster’s justifications for keeping this from him. Listening to Sirius ranting at the Headmaster for keeping the prophecy from Harry and himself had helped too, so he hadn’t needed a calming draught from Pomfrey, who had taken her time to check both of them out, and had almost reluctantly given the two a clean bill of health. She had wanted to keep them in the infirmary anyway, but Hermione had glared at the Matron, who had caved. The fact that Hermione had been covered by so much blood, none of it hers, until Pomfrey had scourgified it, probably had been responsible for that. Not that Harry would complain - he was happy to be out of the infirmary. Unlike Neville and Ron, who had both been asleep there already, their wounds healed - or treated, in Neville's case - and a calming draught ingested.

    He and Hermione were now in an unused classroom on the second floor, Hermione having deemed their dorms unsafe for the moment. It was almost morning now, Sirius had returned to his home some time ago, and Harry felt quite tired. He couldn’t sleep though. Not without finding out what was wr… what had happened to Hermione.

    The girl pulled out two sleeping bags from her enchanted bag, followed by two inflatable mattresses. When she started to inflate the mattresses, Harry suddenly realized he couldn’t remember seeing her casting a spell since he had pushed that button.

    “Hermione…”

    “Yes?” She stopped and looked at him.

    “What happened to you? Can you still cast spells?” He wasn’t quite holding his breath, but he came close. If she could not work magic anymore, wouldn’t she be banned from Hogwarts, from the Wizarding World, from his life?

    Hermione looked at him, her expression not changing, then she put the mattress away and shifted into a cross-legged position. “According to the letter from my parents I found in my bag, I have been … trained one could call it … as a sleeper agent while I was still child, with a set of spy skills I can access once I use an optical trigger. Code name Spygirl.” She pulled out a few more of those boxes and showed them to him. “They are using a chemical reaction for the flashes, not electricity, so they can only be used once each.” she explained, and Harry felt a hint of his friend’s normal personality shine through. Or he was imagining it - Hermione was still lacking the enthusiasm she typically had when dispensing knowledge.

    “As Spygirl I still possess all the skills I learned normally, including magic, but my Spygirl training seems to override them, in both combat and non-combat situations.”

    Harry stared at her. “As Spygirl I have the urge to do things without magic.” Ah!

    “Can you, you know, change back?” This time he did hold his breath. Spygirl might have saved his life, but she wasn’t Hermione. She didn’t talk, didn’t hug, didn’t even move like his best friend. She moved much more smoothly, more gracefully. More dangerously.

    “Yes, I can. One we are out of danger I will fade back and let the original personality take over. In an emergency the optical trigger can be used to put Spygirl to sleep again.” Harry reached out for one of the boxes, and felt his wrist caught in her hand. “I would not recommend this. I will likely be in shock from the events, and unable to defend you.”

    He met her eyes. “We’re safe here. I need to talk to Hermione.”

    Harry had to cast all locking charms and similar spells on the door and window though, until Spygirl finally felt secure enough to go to sleep.

    He saw Hermione blink, saw her shiver, then shudder, her mouth opening, but no words forming. She started to pant, then retch, and then she was vomiting on the floor while he tried to hold her hair back. Not that she noticed. Once she had finished spitting out bile she sobbed and grabbed him in a hug that threatened to break his ribs, despite her whole body shaking, and cried into his neck while he patted her back and hugged her back.

    Harry didn’t know how much time passed while the two remained like that, but finally Hermione released him, allowing him to breathe normally again, and started to speak - babble even. A torrent of words and jumbled sentences, rushed bits jumping from one part of the fight to the next, then back again. Harry managed to understand that Hermione had been aware of all that was happening, remembered everything, but hadn’t been able to do or say anything while her body moved under Spygirl’s control.

    “And now she is in my head, lurking in my mind… ready to take over again and kill.” Suddenly she stiffened, and he eyes seemed to lose their focus. “When it’s needed? Killing shouldn’t be needed!” “We could have stunned them!” “Yes, we could have.” “You don’t know that!” Harry realized that she was talking to Spygirl - and apparently losing the argument, judging by her mulish expression. He felt relieved at seeing her react and look relatively normal, even if she was talking to a voice in her head. Hermione was back.

    He hugged her again, pulling her trembling body into his arms, and rubbed her back until she had calmed down. “Let’s sleep. We need it.” And Hermione really needed a scourgify. Harry too, after hugging her.

    Hermione nodded, then took her wand and transfigured the sleeping bags into a passable bed, and after a cleaning spell their clothes into pajamas. Harry was about to question the single bed when he noticed how haunted she looked. She fell asleep with a death grip on him.

    *****​

    When Harry woke up it was afternoon, judging by the shadows of the sun. His left arm had fallen asleep and was tingling - Hermione was lying on it, head resting on his chest, one arm wrapped around his neck and one leg crossed over his. She looked peaceful while sleeping, only the sweat-soaked hair and pajamas hinting at the nightmares that had shaken her and woken him during the, well, not night, but day. Not that he hadn't had some nightmares himself featuring Death Eaters dying in very bloody ways - much bloodier than they had died in reality.


    Harry sighed and closed his eyes. He didn't want to face the school, or the other students. But leaving his friends to face the Hogwarts rumor mill alone wasn't something he wanted to do either. And he was hungry. But the sight of Hermione sleeping - he couldn’t disturb that peace. Not now.

    After a while, Hermione stirred, then opened her eyes. “Harry?”

    “Morning.”

    Hermione blinked, then slowly got up, freeing his arm. A slight blush on her cheeks was her only visible reaction to their position. “We’ve slept in. We must have missed all lessons today.”

    “I think we have a medical excuse. But we might want a snack before dinner - we missed both breakfast and lunch.” Harry was sure he was blushing a bit as well, but he was following Hermione’s lead.

    “And the others might be worried if we hide for much longer.”

    “We were not hiding. We were resting.” Hermione sounded prim, but with a hint of humor behind it. Then her stomach growled, and she blushed a bit more. “I guess we should eat something.”

    She stood up, in a fluid, graceful motion. Harry blinked - he wasn’t sure if this was normal for his best friend, or some effect of her being Spygirl. Not that he had seen her get up from a bed before, of course, so maybe it was normal. He didn’t want to ask, but decided to pay more attention to how Hermione moved.

    After a few cleaning charms the two undid the spells on the bed, and gathered the sleeping bags and inflatable mattresses, which went back into Hermione’s mokeskin bag. She didn’t show any special grace there, but she must have noticed him watching him. “Did I miss a spot with my charm?”

    “No, no. Just lost in thought I guess.”

    “Oh, Ok.” Hermione nodded, then suddenly stopped, frowning without saying a word. Talking to Spygirl, Harry realized. After a minute, she put her pistol in a holster on her hip, Cutting an opening into her robe so she could easily reach the gun. He didn’t ask, but again she noticed him staring. “It’s safer this way.”

    “For us.”

    “Yes.”

    They cleaned up the room in silence after that, and then went off towards the kitchen.

    *****​

    A snack the size of a meal later, the two were on their way to the infirmary, to check up on Ron and Neville. Hermione was definitely moving differently, Harry concluded. He couldn’t pin down how exactly, but it was different. She was more… his thoughts were interrupted by a hated voice.

    “Potter! You and your mudblood killed my father!”

    Harry spun around and saw Draco Malfoy run towards him, wand out, a furious expression on his face as he slung a spell at the couple. Behind him Goyle and Crabbe were following the Slytherin. Harry threw himself to the side, avoiding whatever spell - he didn’t manage to identify it - the blond had cast, and drew his own wand, a protego on his lips.

    Before he could cast though Hermione, who rolled to the other side, started shooting. Her first shot hit Draco right between the eyes, the second hit his throat when his head was thrown back and his wand went flying. For a moment Harry was back in the Ministry, seeing Lucius Malfoy and the other Death Eaters die. Hermione had shot twice more before Draco’s body and his wand had reached the floor, killing Crabbe and Goyle.

    Harry felt like retching, but managed to control himself. Hermione - Spygirl - kept her gun ready, and checked the bodies lying in slowly spreading pools of blood. “Clear.”

    Footsteps made both turn around, wand and gun ready. Snape ran around the corner, then froze when he stared into the barrel of Hermione’s pistol, gaping at the scene in front of him. “What have you done?”

    “Killed three attackers.” Neither voice nor gun wavered. Before Snape could do respond Dumbledore arrived, followed by McGonagall. The witch gasped at the sight, obviously shocked, while Dumbledore sighed.

    “Are they dead?” The Headmaster sounded like he knew already.

    “Yes.”

    Snape, probably gaining courage from the arrival of his two superiors, turned towards Dumbledore. “She killed them! She killed three of my students!”

    “They attacked us with deadly weapons. Based on Draco Malfoys words this attack was in response to the death of his father.”

    “Miss Granger! What have you done?” McGonagall started, but Dumbledore’s raised hand stopped her even as Hermione - Spygirl - answered “I defended Harry and myself.”

    “Minerva, we’ll continue this in my office. For now, let’s move the bodies to the infirmary.” With a look at Snape, he added. “Severus, put your wand away. There has been enough death already. I do not wish to see anyone else die.”

    “I wasn’t about to kill her, Headmaster.” the potions teacher snarled.

    “I know.”

    *****​

    Snape was trembling with barely suppressed rage in Dumbledore’s office. Harry had never seen the man so tense. McGonagall was staring at Hermione - Spygirl - as if she had never seen her before, wand in hand but carefully not pointing it at the girl and Dumbledore was looking resigned and weary. Hermione was not showing any expression.

    “She killed three students in cold blood, Albus!” Snape exploded. “She’s a danger to the school! You need to deal with her before she murders every Slytherin student!”

    “Miss Granger wouldn’t do that!” McGonagall exclaimed, but it sounded a bit weak to Harry. When Snape sneered and tried to dismiss her claims she quickly rallied though, and soon both were loudly arguing with each other, and all but shouting at Dumbledore.

    The Headmaster didn’t seem to listen to either of them. Instead he was staring at Hermione, who was meeting his eyes. When McGonagall and Snape realized they were being ignored and fell silent, Dumbledore finally spoke up.

    “I should have foreseen this.” He sounded sad and old.

    Hermione nodded “Yes, Sir, you should have.” She briefly glanced at Snape. “How did Draco find out about what happened in the Ministry?”

    Dumbledore sighed. “The Daily Prophet printed a quite extensive if not too accurate description of the events of last night.” Hermione nodded, and Harry had the impression she had expected that.

    Snape was about to say something, but once again the Headmaster stopped him by raising his hand. “It was my responsibility, Severus. I knew how Miss Granger would react to being threatened with a deadly weapon, and I failed to take precautions to ensure that young Draco would not encounter Harry and Miss Granger.”

    “A deadly weapon?” Snape asked incredulously.

    “His wand.” Hermione answered, neither face nor voice showing any emotion.

    “Are you out of your mind? Will you kill anyone waving his wand at you?”

    “I’ll kill anyone who threatens me or Harry.” Hermione turned her head and stared at Snape, who was gaping at her. “I will protect him at all costs.” She turned her attention back to the headmaster. “While the death of three Death Eater recruits is a positive outcome, killing more Slytherins might cause too many political difficulties. Since letting them roam the halls while armed would put Harry at risk, he and I and possibly every other student who was involved in the fight at the Ministry need to leave Hogwarts now.”

    Snape started his usual diatribe about “Potter’s arrogance” but Harry tuned him out. Hermione would kill for him, just like that? Was that because he was the key to defeat Voldemort, or was there something else? She glanced at him, and for an instant a tiny smile appeared on her face, before she turned back to the ranting potion master.

    “Do you wish Voldemort to win?”

    “What?”

    “Harry is the key to defeating Voldemort. Only a dunderhead would not understand that his safety takes precedence over the lives of anyone else who threatens him. A dunderhead, or a traitor. Are you a traitor, Sir, or a dunderhead?”

    “I trust Severus, Miss Granger. He is no traitor.”

    Hermione nodded at the Headmaster, and Harry had to fight not to laugh at Snape’s expression of outrage. McGonagall seemed too shocked hearing that her prize student was calmly discussing the killing of students to partake in the discussion.

    "I will explain to the DMLE that you were attacked by Draco Malfoy and his friends, with deadly intent, and had to defend yourself. Given the current political climate, I do not expect the DMLE to charge you, though it might be best if they assumed Harry defended himself and his friend." Dumbledore rubbed the bridge of his nose.

    “I assume we will be moving to Grimmauld Place 12 then, Headmaster.”

    Dumbledore shook his head at her. “Not right now. In order to keep Harry as safe as possible, he’ll need to return to Privet Drive.” He held up a hand when Hermione narrowed her eyes. “He needs to spend a few weeks there to strengthen the blood charms his mother’s sacrifice allowed me to cast.”

    “What?” Harry exclaimed, standing up and facing the Headmaster. “What blood charms are you talking about?”

    Dumbledore sighed, and started to explain.

    *****​

    Two hours after the Headmaster had finished explaining Harry and Hermione were standing before Number 4, Privet Drive. The explanation hadn’t made any sense - a protection born of love strengthened by the hatred of his family? - but the Headmaster had been very insistent, so Harry had given in, but only after Hermione had made it clear that she’d come with him. Dumbledore had tried to make her promise she’d not hurt the Dursleys, but she had flat out told him that the Dursleys would be treated like everyone else should they become a threat. She hadn’t sounded entirely emotionless when she said that, a fact Harry attributed to the details of his home life he had let slip during Dumbledore’s explanation. It had made him feel good to see her reaction.

    They had eaten a meal in the kitchen of the school, met with Ron, Neville, Luna and Ginny and explained why they were leaving, before Dumbledore had portkeyed them to Little Whining. The Headmaster had not wanted to come to the house himself. Harry hadn’t asked why - he was too focused on the upcoming confrontation. Part of him was wishing Vernon would try something, anything, to appear as a threat, and he wasn’t sure if he should feel bad about that.

    Both were wearing normal clothes, and while Harry felt bad in his Dudley’s old clothes, Hermione looked very good in jeans and jumper, at least he thought so. He rang the doorbell several times, until his aunt opened the door. The woman promptly started to rant at him for being early and ringing up a storm, but Hermione pushed past her with enough force to slam the woman into the wall when she tried to close the door in their faces. Harry followed his friend inside, chuckling.

    They found the two male Dursley’s eating dinner. Vernon jumped up from his chair, and exploded. “Boy! What is the…” The fat man shut up at once when he realized he was staring into the muzzle of Hermione’s pistol.

    “Shut up, Dursley.” Hermione started to talk in a cold, controlled voice. “We will be sleeping in Harry’s room for the next few weeks. Your family will not bother either of us, will not talk to or about us, nor try anything to hinder us coming and going as we please, or I will shoot you and work some magic to make everyone believe you were a child molester.” She smashed her pistol’s barrel into Vernon’s mouth, splintering his front teeth. “Do you understand?” She repeated both the question and the strike twice before the man stopped howling and nodded weakly, blood dripping from his smashed mouth. “Good. Remember - not one word to anyone about us being here. We will know, and your family will be ruined.”

    Glaring at the trembling Dudley the girl turned around and went upstairs, once again pushing Petunia into the next wall hard enough to rattle the pictures on it. Harry followed, laughing. He should feel bad, he thought, seeing his family brutalized and threatened, but he only felt satisfaction to see them get part of their just desserts.

    In his - their now - room Hermione started to unpack her camping supplies while they waited for the owl confirming that Dumbledore had managed to lift the trace on both their wands.

    “That was great, Hermione!”

    “Do you think they’ll heed the warning?” Hermione looked up from assembling a folding chair.

    “They should. They fear magic almost more than being outed as the monsters they are.”

    “Good. We can’t afford threats that close to us.” Hermione pulled out a plastic blanket out of her mokeskin bag, followed by a rifle and a smaller gun with long magazine. When she noticed him staring at the guns she pointed to the rifle. “That’s an L42A1, standard sniper rifle of the British Army.” She blinked. “Or it was when I was born. My information might be out of date.” She pointed a the other gun. “That’s a Heckler and Koch MP-5 submachine gun.”

    “How illegal are those guns?”

    “Very.”

    Whatever Harry had wanted to say died on his lips when Hermione pulled her jumper off, leaving her in a thin white tank top, and started to clean her pistol, followed by the two other guns while kneeling on the blanket. Those school robes and the dresses she had worn when visiting the Weasleys had hid a lot. Hermione worked quickly and efficiently, and soon had all three weapons reassembled and reloaded. Then she stretched, and Harry froze again, trying not to stare too overtly. Judging from the tiny smile sent his way she had noticed.

    Fortunately that was when a brown and a spotted owl arrived, tapping against the window. Harry jumped up at the distraction and let the animals inside. The messages were both from the Ministry, granting Harry and Hermione an exemption from the prohibition of underage magic use.

    Grinning, Harry used his wand to clean up his room, some oil specks from Hermione’s jeans, and started to transfigure the camping gear into more comfortable furniture. With two beds, a desk and two chairs the small room almost felt cramped, but as Hermione had told him they’d not spend much time there other than sleeping. Most of the days they’d be over at Grimmauld Place 12, or with her parents, “training”.

    There had also been a Daily Prophet with his letter. Harry read the front article, with Hermione reading over his shoulder. It seemed even Spygirl was an avid reader that couldn’t wait to learn things, which was a comforting thought to Harry. The article itself was not very accurate. It had the dead death eaters right, but attributed it all to Harry and powerful piercing curses, not gunfire. Voldemort’s retreat was accurately described, but the fight with him beforehand was told as if it had been a duel between Harry and Voldemort. Somewhat understandable given the effect of the brother wands, but still too flattering for his taste. It also made Harry the target of every relative of the dead out for revenge. Hermione’s answer to that comment, that he already was Voldemort’s worst enemy, and that any Death Eater would already have been gunning for him, didn’t really improve his mood. At least the article also made it clear that Harry and Dumbledore were the heroes of Wizarding Britain again, having warned of the Dark Lord’s return for a year while no one else had believed them, conveniently not mentioning the slander the Prophet had thrown at them for a year on the Minister’s order. That Harry supposedly had slain a dozen of the worst Death Eaters must have left a big impression - the editorial was all but shouting for more blood and more support for himself. Harry snorted at the fickleness of public opinion when he handed the newspaper over to Hermione, who read every article.

    A bit later they were eating heated canned food. Hermione apologized for the taste, but Harry thought it was certainly better than what he could expect from the Dursleys after retunring early from school.

    “Say, what kind of training will we get at your parents? Will I learn how to shoot?” Harry had a quick vision of himself shooting two pistols, movie-style.

    Hermione shook her head. “You’ll get rudimentary training in firearms. Mostly to make sure you won’t hurt yourself or anyone else if you need to handle my guns. But it would take too long for you to become a marksman ready to wield a firearm in combat. We’ll likely focus on some fitness training, and some basic self-defense.”

    “Won’t it take as long for me to learn how to defend myself as it would take me to learn how to shoot?”

    “You’ll not become Bruce Lee.” Hermione explained. “But since most wizards don’t have any training in self-defence, even a little bit will help you a lot. And it will be part of the fitness training. But your main strength is magic.”

    “How did you train?”

    “I didn’t. I am the result of experiments on little children. I was more programmed than trained, from what I know. My parents didn’t get too detailed in the letter they left me.”

    They finished their meal while Harry digested that. “Do you think we’ll return to Hogwarts in the fall?”

    “The operations against Voldemort and his followers would have to be extraordinarily successful for Hogwarts to be safe when the next year starts.” Meaning, safe enough so Hermione wouldn’t be Spygirl all the time and kill anyone trying to hex her or Harry. Harry knew he might be able to return, if he left Hermione. But even if she would accept that, Harry wasn’t sure he’d want it. All his friends would be at Hogwarts. All but his best friend.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  4. Threadmarks: Chapter 3: Deadly Lessons
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Chapter 3: Deadly Lessons

    Harry woke up next to Hermione again. She had her eyes open this time, looking at him, chin resting on her hands, which were folded on his chest. Before he could say anything she spoke up. “You were having a nightmare. I calmed you down.”

    “Ah.” A clear, logical explanation for her presence. He cleaned his throat and she got up, sliding out of his bed with Spygirl’s fluid grace. The smile playing around her lips that he barely caught was pure Hermione though. The tank top and, ah, shorts on the other hand… he couldn’t imagine his best friend wearing that. Well, he could now. Very well.

    For the first time in his life at the Dursley’s, Harry hadn’t to wait or even beg to enter the bathroom. One knock and command from Hermione, and Dudley fled downstairs, squealing like a pig. Hermione waved him inside, waiting outside until he was done, then they switched places.

    Once both were dressed - Jeans and sweater for Hermione, his usual ratty second-hand clothes for Harry, they left the house. “I’ve contacted my parents. They are meeting us a bit away from here so we’re not seen together by the Dursleys or anyone else who might be observing them.” Sensible, in Harry’s opinion. Even though he didn’t know how she had contacted her parents. Probably through one of the gadgets from her bag.

    A short bus trip later they were entering a large, dark car driven by Hermione’s father. Past a casual greeting no one spoke much while they drove towards Hermione’s home. There was a tension in the air, though Harry didn’t think it was directed at anyone inside the car. Even if the way Mister Granger had briefly but with a quiet intensity looked him over had caused him to squirm for a moment.

    Once they were inside the Granger home - a very average upper-middle class house - Hermione hugged both her parents, hard. It still looked a bit forced to Harry, but less than a day ago. They sat down in the living room, the Grangers on the couch, back to the wall, Harry and Hermione in the matching seats. Her mother broke the silence. “What happened exactly?”

    Hermione gave a detailed, clinical report of the events that had caused her to “activate”. Harry felt quite ashamed when she mentioned how and why they had walked into the Death Eater trap, and avoided everyone’s eyes at that moment. When the focus was back on Hermione and her actions during the fight, he relaxed again. Neither of her parents interrupted her, which he found weird - he’d have asked a dozen questions if he hadn’t been there himself.

    Hermione continued through the fight at Hogwarts, to their relocation to Privet Drive. Then the questions from the Grangers started - much more thorough than Harry had expected. All her decisions were analyzed and criticized. He’d have expected shouting, cursing - the non-magical kind of cursing, of course - and blaming, not this.

    Finally, Mister Granger nodded. “What are your plans now?”

    “Protecting Harry. Training and preparing to fight Voldemort and his forces until he no longer poses a threat.”

    “What kind of training do you expect to need?”

    “I need to be familiar with more current weapons. I need to train in magical combat as well. Harry needs to have self-defense training, basic firearms training, and training in magical combat.”

    “Who will be training you in magic?”

    “Sirius Black, possibly others. His home is protected by powerful spells and wards, and will suffice for this.”

    “I assume you have a schedule prepared already.”

    Hermione grinned at that, despite presenting it with Spygirl’s voice. “It will need to be adjusted once I have spoken to Sirius Black.” Harry had a flashback to their preparations for the O.W.L.s. He hoped it wouldn’t be that bad, even though he knew he needed all the training he could get.

    “Who did that to Hermione?” Harry hadn’t wanted to ask, but couldn’t help himself. Mister Granger glared at him, but Harry met his eyes without flinching. No one should be turned into a weapon as a child. Least of all his best friend.

    The Grangers exchanged glances until Hermione nodded. “I trust him.”

    “Hermione was chosen as a baby for an experiment by… our employers of that time. They did that while we were away on an urgent mission. It turned out to be a set-up, or a pretext. There’s some indication we were not meant to survive, but it’s not certain. When we returned and found out what had been done to our child we took her, made sure the experiment wouldn’t be repeated, and then went undercover.” Harry understood enough from Mrs. Granger’s tale that they hadn’t been dentists all their life, if they were dentists at all. And that whoever had done this to Hermione was dead. “When we were told she was a witch and that there was a hidden magical world, we were very happy. She would be able to live there, away from those like our former employers who’d like to duplicate the experiments done to her, or simply wanted to use her. When we realized just how unsafe the magical world could be, we started to prepare.”

    Despite the knowledge that he was talking to two former, possibly current, agents, probably as dangerous as Hermione, Harry asked another question. “Why did you give me that box?”

    This time Mister Granger answered. “We knew our girl was in danger by those pureblood terrorists after she told us about Voldemort’s return. But we couldn’t risk activating her in advance. You know how she reacts to being threatened with a deadly weapon, like a wand. As her best friend, who is usually at her side whenever there’s trouble, you were the best choice.” Mister Granger glared at him when he said that, perhaps blaming Harry for the trouble Hermione got in. At least partially. Or this was just the glare of a father who didn’t like a boy getting too close to his daughter, though Harry didn’t think Mister Granger was like that. Not with a daughter that could kill a dozen men easily.

    “I see.” Further questions were prevented by a hug from Hermione. “They had prepared an emergency bag for me, even had me buy the mokeskin bag myself, and had me swear I wouldn’t open it until it was a real emergency. Just in case, there was a letter explaining the trigger inside. Now let me show you the training room!”

    In hindsight, Harry should have expected a secret stairwell leading down to an underground lair, given what he knew about the Grangers now.

    *****​

    Training with the Grangers was an experience that made Wood’s Quidditch training look like a vacation. Shooting and cleaning weapons with Mrs Granger wasn’t that bad, but the sparring… Harry would have rather tried to dodge a few rogue bludgers than learning how to dodge attacks from Mister Granger. He’d rather have trained with Hermione as well, but she had spent the day reading through stacks of firearms and other magazines. At least the lunch and dinner had been very good.

    They had returned to Number 4 Privet Drive in the evening, heading straight up to Harry’s - well, their now - room, with neither the Dursleys nor Harry and Hermione saying any word. Judging from the way Petunia had flinched, Hermione had probably glared at them, but Harry was too tired to care. Too tired, and too hurt. A potion had helped with the bruises from the blow to the chest Mister Granger hadn’t pulled in time, and from the blocks he hadn’t gotten right, and from the blocks he had. But it didn’t help with the aching muscles. A long soak in the tub would be nice, but he’d probably fall asleep and drown.

    He managed to strip down and pull on his pajama pants - new ones the Grangers had provided, together with other clothes - without embarrassing himself or Hermione, but when he reached for the top his friend stopped him. “Lay down. You need a massage or you’ll be in pain. More pain.” He wasn’t about to argue, and simply laid down on his bed.

    Hermione’s hands were soon kneading the muscles in his back and legs, bringing relief from the aches there, but the fact she was doing it in her sleep wear - skimpy sleep wear he could imagine her perfectly well in, thanks to last night, and which she could have never worn in a drafty old castle like Hogwarts - and sitting on his legs or back most of the time kind of countered whatever relief her massage brought, and left him awake for some time afterwards, unable to sleep.

    “Can’t sleep, can you? Nightmares again?” Hermione suddenly asked, kneeling at his bedside, her head close enough he could see her almost grin even without his glasses. Coughing he shook his head. “Just… it was a long day, you know.”

    She nodded with a teasing smile. “You’ll get used to it. I am up to date on most topics now, so I’ll train with you next time.” She seemed to hesitate a moment, then stood up. “Good night.”

    “Good night.”

    *****​

    Training with Sirius the next day was a different experience. Harry thrived while Hermione - or rather, Spygirl - was having trouble. Not with the spells they were learning, but with using them in a fight. All her instincts and reflexes were still Spygirl’s, focused on non-magical weapons and attacks. Once she even threw her wand at Sirius as a distraction, before taking him down with some martial-arts move. Despite the amusing sight of Sirius on the ground with Hermione sitting on his back and holding his wand arm in a painful lock, her own wand lying on the ground next to his wasn’t exactly a good result.

    As petty and stupid as it was, Harry felt a bit - a tiny bit - good about that. Seeing Hermione struggle like that made her less of superhuman killing machine, and more like the best friend he had known for years. And it made him feel less like a dead weight compared with her. Which was important to him.

    Currently they were taking a break. They needed it. Hermione was bent over, hands on her knees, and panting. When she noticed Harry staring at her - though hopefully not where his eyes had wandered - she sat down. “I need to work on my endurance. My parents kept me fit, but my body cannot keep up with Spygirl’s skills and demands for long. I tire too quickly.” Harry passed her a bottle of Mineral Water, which she guzzled down with a grateful smile. He sipped his own water a bit slower - he was, to his satisfaction, in better shape than Hermione, thanks to Wood’s regime mostly. Not that much better, though.

    They sat together for a bit while Sirius checked a book from the Black Library for another useful spell to teach them. The wizard looked winded himself - 12 years in Azkaban had left their mark, and he hadn’t recovered that much while on the run, or locked up in this house. Still, Harry was happier than he had been in a long time. He was with his godfather and his best friend, his relatives were leaving him alone when he was home, he hadn’t any chores to do, and Voldemort had lost a lot of his support and followers. They were expecting Remus and Tonks later in the day, maybe others too, but for now it was just the three of them.

    “I think this spell will be useful. It summons knifes that fly around and attack your enemies. You’ll need to learn how to direct them with your wand to attack, but they keep at it. Most will think you are banishing them at them, and won’t expect them to curve around and strike from the back if the miss in the first pass.”

    Hermione perked up and moved over to Sirius. “Really? Let me see!” Harry grinned. That was pure Hermione again. Spygirl was much more patient when it came to information. His grin widened when Hermione more or less pulled the book away from Sirius. The wizard just laughed and summoned a Classic Cola from the box that held their snacks, drinks and medical supplies. Sirius had a bit of a sweet tooth, and when he had tried the sugary caffeinated drink it had been love at first sight. Harry and Hermione had brought the food, and enough for the next day as well. With Kreacher “having been dealt with for his treachery” - Sirius hadn’t gone into details but had smiled cruelly when he had stated that - the kitchen was safe to store food in.

    The two wizards spent a few minutes watching Hermione bury her nose in the book, then Sirius got up and clapped his hands. “Break’s over, kids. Time for more training!”

    *****​

    Remus and Tonks arrived in the afternoon, bearing news from the Ministry. After the events at the Department of Mysteries and the death of his close friend Lucius, Fudge was desperate to avoid a vote of no confidence and apparently jumped at any suggestion Dumbledore made. Amelia Bones had used that to start a purge of the ministry, ferreting out supporters of Voldemort. Tonks enthusiastically told how she had helped arresting a mole today. Remus was a bit more restrained. “It’s not just followers of the Dark Lord. A number of wizards and witches will use this to settle old scores or get rid of a rival.”

    Tonks was having none of that. “Bones is not like that! All she cares about is justice! She’ll not arrest anyone without proof!”

    “Maybe. But in the current climate you don’t need proof to sink someone’s career. Rumors will suffice.” The older werewolf was far more cynical than the young auror. Harry silently agreed with him - he had suffered the effect of rumors and hearsay himself, more than once.

    “An excellent opportunity to cultivate contacts then. If Harry or Dumbledore helps someone out that will be a hefty favor to be owed.” Everyone looked at Hermione.

    “Are you talking about helping Death Eaters?” Tonks sounded incredulous.

    “I am talking about people like Fudge. If he stays Minister for Magic, then he’ll be in Dumbledore’s pocket. With more people beholden to Dumbledore, the war will be easier to conduct, with less interference from the Ministry or the Wizengamot.”

    Sirius and Remus agreed while Tonks muttered something about politics. Harry wasn’t sure if that had been Hermione, or Spygirl. The reasoning seemed Spygirl’s but there had been some of Hermione’s scorn towards the Ministry in her voice.

    “Well, we should do our part, which is training, and let Dumbledore do his part. He’s the Chief Warlock again, after all.” Sirius stated, and started to herd them towards the training area. Remus chuckled “You sound almost responsible, Padfoot.” A flick of a wand later and he was busy trying to shrink his suddenly far too large shoes.

    *****​

    A few weeks later Harry was feeling better than ever. His training schedule was still very demanding, but he had gotten used to it. And seeing the Dursleys scared of him and Hermione never got old. His best friend had to remind them of the risks of messing with either of them a few times, but other than that they had made no trouble. Harry was sure the fact that he only slept at Privet Drive and spent the day elsewhere helped a lot. Sometimes he wondered why he couldn’t have spent all his summers like this.

    He looked at the framed article from the Daily Prophet. Reading the transcript of Umbridge’s trial, seeing her reaction when she was sentenced to life in Azkaban for torture, attempted murder and attempting to use an unforgivable on Harry never got old either. Her “dear Cornelius” ignoring her pleas for mercy… it was a broken woman that was dragged out of the courtroom, but she deserved it for what she had put him through.

    On the floor Hermione was doing pushups. The girl was training harder than he was, but she still had trouble using magic in combat. Well, not exactly trouble. She was as fast with her wand as Ginny, Ron or Luna, and faster than Neville, all who had started to share their lessons at Grimmauld Place. But she was noticeably slower than when she was using weapons. Something that didn’t sit well with her perfectionism, and had been frustrating her to no end.

    Harry glanced at her. Sweat was covering her skin with a fine sheen and her hair was obscuring her face. He had gotten used to her rather skimpy attire. Well, almost. He was doing much better than Ron or Neville. Those two had stared and stammered when they had seen Hermione in a tank top and tight Jeans for the first time. And for a few times afterwards. Luna had taken it in stride - did anything faze that girl? - and Ginny had been gaping. If they could see her now, in shorts and sports bra… he chuckled at the thought, then frowned. He wasn’t sure if he wanted either of them to see Hermione like this.

    Hermione finished her set, and rolled on her back. She looked up at him and smirked, then sat up and started to stretch, as she called it. Harry knew she was trying to get a rise out of him, and grinned back. It was a small game the two had going. Another thing he realized he didn’t want to share.

    “I am going to miss this, you know.” He gestured at his small room.

    “Hm?”

    “Us two, in this room.” He didn’t add “together”. They’d move to Grimmauld Place the next day, Dumbledore had said the blood protection was strengthened enough by now to leave Privet Drive until next year.

    “Ah. Not looking forward to replace me with Ron, hm?”

    He snorted. “No, I am not.” Ron was a good bloke, not without faults, but brave and his mate. But Hermione was special.

    Hermione was lying on her bed, her head propped up with one hand. “You don’t have to, you know.” She sounded… different. Less sure than Hermione or Spygirl usually sounded.

    Harry looked at her, and she avoided his eyes. He licked his lips, suddenly nervous. “I don’t want to.” He suddenly wished he, they could stay here. But it would hurt Sirius, who had said multiple times in the last few days how happy he was to finally have Harry live with him.

    “We could share a room at Grimmauld Place.” Hermione was still not meeting his eyes. “I am sure Sirius wouldn’t mind.”

    “But Mrs. Weasley would have a stroke.” Harry could almost hear her scream.

    “Sod her.”

    Harry couldn’t resist. “Hermione, language!” That broke the tension, and both laughed.

    Hermione sat up, and finally looked him into the eyes. “Do you want us to keep living together, I mean, sharing a room?”

    Harry nodded, not breaking eye contact. She grinned mischievously. “Then I think Spygirl will not accept letting you sleep alone. For security reasons, of course.”

    “Of course.”

    *****​

    “What?” Several people said at the same time, incredulous, outraged, even stunned.

    Hermione calmly repeated herself while standing in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place 12. “I said Harry and I will be sharing a room.”

    Molly Weasley didn’t explode, as some would have expected,but her smile was showing some signs of being strained. “Dear, that would not be proper. You and Ginny will share a room, and Ron and Harry will share a room. As usual.”

    Hermione’s tone didn’t change. “We have several extremely dangerous muggle weapons with us. Only Harry and I have the training to safely handle them. That means that I need to share a room with Harry. I fail to see how this would be a problem since we have been sharing a room for several weeks now.”

    From the way everyone but Sirius was now gaping at them, that little tidbit had not been known. Harry fought not to grin. He knew what was going through the minds of those staring at them. Ron was gaping, his mouth open, and his face was making a serious effort to match his hair. His mate had to be imagining all sorts of lewd things done by Harry and Hermione. Not that Harry hadn’t been having similar thoughts and dreams himself, for weeks now. Ginny’s face was even redder and her lips were moving without a sound coming out. Tonks was grinning widely, Remus was glaring at Sirius, who was trying to look innocent. Mrs. Weasley looked like she would blow steam out of her ears any minute. Before she could start a howler without parchment, Hermione addressed her directly. “Are you about to insinuate that Harry has been anything but a perfect gentleman, Mrs. Weasley?”

    “Ah… but… you...”

    “I assure you, Mrs. Weasley, nothing untowards or improper happened, despite Harry and I living together. Not that it would be of any concern to you if there had happened anything, since both my parents and Harry’s guardian gave their consent to our arrangement.” Both Hermione and Harry looked at Sirius, who quickly confirmed that. “Furthermore, as I stated, security concerns demand that we continue to share a room. If this is not possible here then we will have to return to our former quarters.” That should ensure that Sirius would not cave in to Molly. Not that it was likely, Harry thought, given the wide grin the man sported.

    A few minutes of arguing later the two teenagers were standing in their new room. It was far larger than his room at Privet Drive, and the furniture was far more expensive. Not that that took a lot.

    Hermione had unpacked their weapons and was checking hers. Harry walked over and grabbed his own weapons. The Grangers had - finally! - decided Harry had learned enough to handle a weapon without oversight and had given him a Colt Python and a L1A1. Harry didn’t intend to use either much if at all, his wand was far more useful in a fight, but it felt good to have them, to know he was trusted enough to use them. Not to mention guns were cool.

    Hermione’s - Spygirl’s - arsenal was far bigger and included various explosives. From what Harry understood she had enough C-4 in her bag to blow up Grimmauld Place twice over. Good thing all weapons would be in her or his mokeskin bags. He couldn’t imagine what the twins would do with it, or, worse, Arthur. At least Mundungus Fletcher wouldn’t be able to try stealing anything from them - Sirius had kicked that thief out two weeks ago, after Hermione caught him lifting the family silver. His godfather had flat-out refused to go back on that decision despite Dumbledore telling him repeatedly how useful Fletcher was for the Order of the Phoenix.

    Oh, yes, the Order. Harry was looking forward to the first meeting of the Order he and Hermione could attend. Until now they had to return to Privet Drive before the meetings started. He wasn’t sure if that had been by design or not.

    He stashed his own weapons while Hermione, who had finished far more quickly than him, thanks to Spygirl’s expertise with weapons, was already using her wand to rearrange the furniture into a more organized set up. There was one massive bed in the middle of the room. Part of Harry wanted to suggest sharing it. He didn’t though. There was something more than friendship between him and Hermione, growing stronger each day - at least in his opinion - but they were not ready for whatever sharing a bed would imply. Not yet, anyway.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  5. Threadmarks: Chapter 4: Deadly Items
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Chapter 4: Deadly Items

    Lunch was … interesting, Harry thought. In the Chinese sense. Sirius was winking at him as if his eyelid had been affected by a looping wingardium leviosa whenever their eyes met, and he was using so many euphemism and double-entendres, one could hardly follow his meaning without some mental gymnastics. Tonks teased the two, or tried to. After her first lewd comment Mrs Weasley shut her up with the threat of not getting to eat her cooking anymore "if she could not keep her tongue from voicing such crude remarks". Remus mumbled something about Harry's parents in between trying to get Sirius to behave. Harry didn't catch it, but since Hermione might have overheard it - she was closer to the werewolf, and smiled at his words - he could ask her later. Arthur tried to ignore the whole situation, or so Harry thought, but the Weasley kids… Mrs Weasley might have cowed them into behaving at the table, but from the looks Harry and Hermione were receiving it was clear they'd be facing an inquisition as soon as lunch was done. They had escaped a grilling before, since Mrs Weasley had had her children cleaning the house while Harry and Hermione had "stashed the very dangerous muggle weapons" … for 3 hours.

    Mrs Weasley hadn't even dropped the last dishes into the sink when the four Weasleys children rose.

    "Mate, let's head to my room, I've got some wicked new Quidditch book I'll have to show you!" Ron stated, clapping Harry on the shoulder. "Ginny and Hermione can do some girl talk." From the looks Ginny shot Ron, the youngest Weasley wasn't that eager to be alone with the girl who had killed over a dozen wizards.

    Hermione shot the proposal down anyway. "We should head to the library. There's enough room for all of us to discuss recent events."

    "Ah… I mean…" From the way Ron was floundering, Harry was pretty sure what he had wanted to talk about.

    Ginny and the twins agreed though, and so the group headed to the Black library while Tonks was helping Mrs Weasley do the dishes, probably trying to get back into her good graces after her little stunt.

    Once in the library, Hermione went straight to their usual the corner, with a good view of the entrance and some cover nearby. Harry sat down in his prefered seat, back to the wall, but Hermione slipped out of her robes before taking a seat on his right armrest. All the Weasleys were staring at Hermione, apparently they had never seen her in tight jeans and a sleeveless t-shirt that left part of her midriff bare.

    "Robes would slow me down in case we're attacked." Hermione explained. Harry knew she had only worn the robes today so Mrs Weasley wouldn't make a bigger scene. Ron and the twins nodded, but probably hadn't understood a word.

    "Is that muggle underwear?" Ginny was staring at Hermione, and sounding shocked. And intrigued.

    "No. It's normal street wear." Hermione answered. Seeing the look of incomprehension on the redhead, she elaborated "Those are normal clothes muggle girls wear."

    "On… on the street? Outside the bedr… house?" Ron had found his voice.

    "Yes. It's quite common in the summer. Pretty modest, compared to what some wear."

    While Ron and his siblings were making incoherent noises at that revelations, Hermione leaned to her left and slipped an arm around Harry's shoulders. "He should be dropping his robes as well, but I think we might be safe for now. Unless he is getting hot, of course." She smirked, and Harry frowned, moving his head away from her other hand.

    When the glazed looks of the male Weasleys stopped, she grew serious. "I assume you have heard what happened at Hogwarts."

    "Yes." Ron answered. "You killed Draco, Goyle and Crabbe."

    "Correct. They attacked us, and I killed them on the spot. That's why we are very unlikely to return to Hogwarts for the next year - given how common hexing each other in the hallways is, and since I have to treat any wand as a deadly weapon, it would certainly lead to more dead students."

    "What? You are not coming back?" Ron's voice was the loudest, but everyone but Harry and Hermione said the same thing, or something similar.

    "Correct. Unless the situation with Voldemort changes dramatically, returning to Hogwarts would not be wise. Protecting Harry takes priority." Hermione's hand was still on Harry's shoulder. Not that he minded.

    "Since more attempts to take revenge on behalf of the Death Eaters who were killed in the Department of Mysteries are to be expected, and with Harry and myself not present, you as well as Neville and Luna are very likely targets for such attempts." Hermione nodded at Ron and Ginny, who paled slightly.

    "We'll train hard for the rest of Summer." Harry spoke up, smiling reassuringly. "Harder than we trained in the DA." That made Ron pale.

    "Training will take up so much time, you will not be allowed to do any chores." Hermione added. Wide smiles answered her.

    "She'll explain that to Mrs Weasley." Harry quickly stated. He wouldn't want to tell her that. It was hard enough to keep her from running everyone's life, but to actually tell her her children would not be doing the chores she had set? Clearly a mission for Spygirl!

    "Correct. I do not foresee any difficulties there."

    The twins were staring at each other, then at the rest. "I suddenly feel the urge to train hard. But we're needed in our shop."

    "Will we train with muggle weapons too?" Ron wanted to know.

    "No. It would take too much time, and wouldn't help you much. We'll all train Defense." Harry nodded - the thought of Ron, or worse, the twins, getting their hands on guns or, Merlin help them all, explosives, sent shivers down his spine.

    "Where will you go, if not to Hogwarts?"

    "That remains to be decided still. For the time being, we'll stay here." She was still sitting very closely to Harry. Some might even call it 'hanging all over him"'. For a brief moment Harry imagined her slipping on his lap, like in the movies he had seen at the Grangers. An amused snort next to his ear told him Hermione had caught his reaction to that thought.

    She hadn't been the only one. "Are… are you two together?" Ginny asked, leaning forward. She sounded hesitant, but Harry had no idea if she was afraid of asking Hermione, or afraid of the answer.

    "We are not in a relationship." Hermione answered in a clinical tone, channeling Spygirl. Only Harry heard the "yet" she added under her breath, and he had to suppress a surprised gasp. He didn't think she had missed that either.

    "Oh. But you're living together?

    "Correct. Such an arrangement is not uncommon in the muggle world, but usually the participants are older." Hermione's statement didn't help with the obvious confusion of their friends.

    "We're very close, but nothing, ah, improper has happened." Harry explained. He almost added "yet" under his breath, but didn't.

    "And you sleep in his room in those clothes?" Ron sounded incredulous.

    "No. Jeans are not suitable sleepwear." Ron seemed to take that as meaning she would be wearing more, not less, judging from his expression. Then she added: "The shirt, however, could serve in that capacity."

    For the rest of the talk, when they discussed spells, and the situation at Hogwarts after Harry and Hermione had left, Ron kept sneaking glances at Hermione. Harry grew so annoyed, he slid an arm around her waist and kept it there. From the way she kept her arm around his shoulders, she didn't mind. And Ron got the message.

    *****​

    After dinner - Hermione had donned her robes again for the meal, though she had told Harry she'd soon not bother anymore - and after a first endurance training lesson which left everyone but Harry and Hermione on the verge of collapsing, the two were finally alone again, in their room.

    Hermione was sitting on her bed in her sleepwear, reading in a tome from the Black Library perched on her crossed legs. The sight of her in the top and shorts combo would leave Ron drooling and would cause Mrs Weasley to have a stroke, but Harry was used to it. Not that he didn't appreciate it anyway. Especially seeing her reading a book like that - that was just so Hermione.

    "Do you think our friends will be alright? We won't be able to train with Luna and Neville as often as with the Weasleys." Harry was sitting on the chair in front of the desk in the room, but had it turned to face Hermione's bed, the book he was supposedly reading forgotten on the desk behind him.

    "With a replacement wand that will be a better match for him, Neville should soon reach his real potential." Hermione answered, still staring at the book. "If he still is not allowed to get a new wand, we will have to arrange an accident to damage his current, unsuitable wand."

    "That's…" Harry hesitated. He knew Ron and his other friends who had been raised in the Magical World from birth would be horrified at the thought of deliberately destroying a wand, especially a wand of a friend, but… Neville needed a wand that matched him. "... a good idea. Just make sure no one catches you. Destroying his father's wand… he'd not take that well."

    "No one will know."

    "If you wear your exercise clothes, they'll be too dazzled to notice anything." Harry grinned.

    "Anything but my body, you mean."

    "Ah, yes. What did you talk with Ginny about? She was blushing when you returned to dinner."

    "Girl Talk." Hermione answered, looking up and smirking at him.

    Harry waited for her to ask what he and Ron had been talking about, but she returned her attention to her book. Though she grinned as soon as he pouted. "I simply, as people might call it, staked my claim."

    "Ah… to me?"

    She smiled, and nodded, suddenly looking as if she were surprised by her own words.

    "I, ah, told Ron about the same thing." Harry stated. He couldn't take his eyes off her as she closed the book, slid of the bed - with Spygirl's grace, but Hermione's almost shy smile, he noted - and stepped up to him. She nibbled on her lower lips, took a deep breath, then suddenly sat down in his lap. He gasped in surprise while she giggled.

    During the next minute neither said a word as they stared into each other's eyes, nervous and hopeful at the same time. Then Harry bent his head, towards her, and her hands held his cheeks, pulling their lips together for a kiss that left both breathless.

    "So… I guess, us?"

    "Yes."

    Harry had trouble falling asleep that night. He kept glancing over at the other bed in the room, where Hermione slept. He didn't wonder anymore if she was spygirl or Hermione - he had fallen in love with all of her.

    *****​

    They didn't tell anyone about their budding relationship the next day. Harry didn't think it was a good idea to provoke Mrs Weasley, who'd certainly make a ruckus after assuming the most carnal things she could think of were happening between the two of them, even though Spygirl thought she could handle her. But she agreed that the reactions of their friends and Sirius and Tonks could end up causing problems for their training, and for the training of their friends, which they might need to survive Hogwarts. So they refrained from public displays of affection. Harry didn't mind keeping their relationship - and didn't that sound far more impressive than exchanging kisses - secret. It made it more personal, more intimate, something only the two of them shared with each other. Spygirl called it "good training for undercover missions", but she had Hermione's shy smile when she said that.

    In the evening the Order of the Phoenix met. Harry and Hermione got to attend. Ron had been jealous and Mrs Weasley had tried to keep them out, until Dumbledore had confirmed that their presence was needed.

    "The investigation of the Department of Magical Transportation has revealed another mole, Alexander Perkins. We're still trying to find out if he has been closing floos during the Death Eater attacks in the last war, or if he joined You-Know-Who after his return." Shacklebolt, a tall black auror, was going on about the suspects that had been arrested in the last few weeks. It wasn't quite boring, but after the tenth "suspect under investigation" report Harry was starting to lose focus. Especially with Tonks no longer providing entertaining comments after Dumbledore had called her on it. Spygirl though was paying attention as if their lives depended on it. She didn't seem to mind how the Order members nervously looked at her as if she was a bomb ready to go off. Harry tried to imagine how they'd look at her if she hadn't been wearing a robe, but her infiltration suit and gear - skintight black leather, loaded with all sorts of tools and weapons. It would have been very entertaining, he was sure.

    "Head Auror Scrimgeour has requested authorization to use the Unforgivables in the upcoming raids. It hasn't been granted yet, but the aurors expect it after two of them were killed responding to a Death Eater attack on a family in Essex. From the six Death Eaters, only two escaped. Morale remains high." Shacklebolt concluded.

    Dumbledore nodded. "Thank you, Kingsley. Mundungus?"

    The shady wizard who Sirius had finally allowed to enter again - only for this meeting, and carefully watched - spoke up. Harry thought he looked like a drunk. "Knockturn Alley is quiet. Very quiet. Most of my contacts have gone to ground, hoping to wait the conflict out without getting scooped up in an Auror raid. No one wants to risk their necks, but if this goes on for much longer, some might get a bit desperate. Especially the hags. I haven't seen any Death Eater, though among the usual crowd there's bound to be a couple."

    "Thank you." Dumbledore cleared his throat. "In the Wizengamot resistance to stricter controls of Dark Magic is crumbling. I do not expect, sadly, to get near as much support for my proposal to neutralize Dementors. Those remain a possible source of support for our enemy even though the public sees them as the best way to deal with Death Eaters. Public opinion has remained unchanged, unwavering in its support for the harshest measures taken against Death Eaters." He sounded sad, but not really disapproving." Our main objective as the Order remains gathering information about Death Eaters, their identities and their objectives. We need to find Voldemort's location." Harry frowned at seeing most of the Order members shudder at the name. That didn't look too promising.

    "What about your… source?" Shacklebolt asked. Harry knew who he was talking about - Snape. The man wasn't present, a fact a number of the other members had commented on. Sirius' had been the most colorful, of course.

    Dumbledore spread his hands. "My source is doing what is possible, but Voldemort is crafty, and suspicious of anyone that is left. Whatever I can find out I will of course pass on to the Ministry."

    "What about the children? They are not safe!" Mrs Weasley spoke up. "They have been described as the ones bringing down You-Know-Who in the Prophet so often, someone's bound to want to take revenge on them!"

    "I can assure you, Molly, every precaution is taken to ensure their safety at Hogwarts. I have invited both the Longbottoms and the Lovegoods to Grimmauld Place. Xeno is leaving for an expedition to Scandinavia soon, but Luna will move to Grimmauld Place. However Augusta said she trusts the defenses on Longbottom Manor more than those of House Black." He smiled apologetically at Sirius.

    "Can't say I don't understand. My family's got a dark reputation for a reason. At least the kids here will be safe."

    Harry wanted to speak up, but Hermione's hand on his thigh and a slight shake of her head stopped him. The meeting concluded after it had slipped from information into gossiping, and the Order members left until only Dumbledore, Sirius and Remus remained.

    "Sir?" Hermione spoke up for the first time since the meeting had started. Dumbledore sighed, and cast a spell at the door.

    "We're safe from any ingenious eavesdropping now."

    "Will we be meeting with Professor Snape tomorrow?"

    That startled the two other wizards, but Dumbledore only smiled, though again with a sad expression. "Yes, my dear. We'll be meeting in my office in Hogwarts, during the morning." Harry would have been surprised as well, if Spygirl hadn't told him that Snape surely wouldn't be revealing sensitive information to such a large gathering.

    "We'll use weapon maintenance as a cover then."

    "Very well. Please make sure your friends do not know about this - lives depend on it."

    "Of course, Sir."

    Then Dumbledore finited his spell, and left for the floo. Harry and Hermione went to face their friends. As expected - at least by Spygirl, and obviously by Dumbledore - the Weasleys had eavesdropped using the extendable ears made by the twins, so there wasn't much to share, and Hermione deflect probing questions by removing her robe, which distracted Ron and made Ginny stare, and asking the twins about enchanting throwing knives. By the time they headed to their room, Hermione had been promised a prototype of a "Killing Knife" in a week or two. The twins had wanted to pick another name, but a glare from Spygirl had quashed that idea.

    After another "kissing session", as Ron would call it - or "tonsil cleaning" according to Tonks - the two went to bed.

    *****​

    The meeting with Snape the next day was quite different from the Order Meeting. Snape hadn't been happy to share information with Harry and Hermione - Harry didn't want to think what he'd have done if Sirius had been present, as he had wanted, or Remus - and had started to complain about pampered children at once, but Dumbledore didn't tolerate petty grudges getting in the way of dealing with Voldemort.

    "Severus, you know Harry is crucial to defeating Voldemort, and Miss Granger has proven to be one of the most deadly enemies one can imagine. Both will need to know as much as possible about our enemy."

    Moody, who was attending as well, laughed. "That's right. If only all our Aurors were as deadly as the lass, we'd have this in the bag, prophecy or no prophecy." He grinned at Hermione. "I am looking forward to attend your training." Harry had to force himself not to wince at that. Mad-Eye training them would be… well, it would be painful. Like training with the Grangers, just worse.

    Huffing, Snape glared, but started to share intel, as Spygirl called it. "The Dark Lord has not been meeting with me at the same location twice. With the continuing raids on anyone suspected to harbor sympathies for his cause, he cannot count on old contacts, and so I suspect he is using safe houses he set up before his first defeat. I haven't seen anyone but Pettigrew at his side at those meetings, but we know from the Death Eaters caught in attacks that he still has numerous allies. He is quite desperate for information about the prophecy, Potter, and Granger. From what I could gather, he suspects Granger is part of the Prophecy, and that this allowed her to defeat his inner circle, and Potter to drive him off. He tried to kidnap Ollivander to find out why his and Potter's wands reacted to each other, but thanks to your foresight, the wandmaker was already at a safe location. I was ordered to find out where Potter, Granger and Ollivander are."

    Dumbledore nodded. "What about the Weasleys, Mister Longbottom and Miss Lovegood? Does Voldemort intend to avenge his defeat on them?"

    "The thought has crossed his mind, but as far as I know he hasn't sent anyone out - he mentioned that the last Longbottom cost him four of his best, and that Lovegoods were more trouble than they were worth. The Weasleys though… the Burrow is not safe anymore."

    "It would make a suitable location for an ambush then." Spygirl spoke up.

    "He is aware of that, I can assure you." Snape's voice dripped with condescension.

    "Can you lead us to him once you're called to the next meeting?"

    "He is very cautious. I am sure I apparate straight into wards that block tracking spells whenever he calls me."

    "Hm. That shouldn't block a homing device. If we can get one to work inside magical areas, we could find his location." Spygirl looked pensive. "I'll have this looked into."

    Snape looked like he had just bit his tongue, the git probably wanted to call Hermione all sorts of names. Moody though, Harry saw, eagerly leaned forward. "You mean to use muggle means, lass?"

    "Correct, Sir. A standard homing beacon should allow us to track Voldemort's location quickly enough to move in on him."

    "A very promising idea, Miss Granger. How long would the preparations take?"

    "That is hard to say. If EMP-shielded electronics work, not very long. It doesn't have to be small since Professor Snape can carry it in his pockets or under his robe. If it requires magic to shield it from magic…" She spread her hands. "I'll need to experiment, preferably in an area where a lot of spells and wards are active. Like Hogwarts."

    "Very well. The school is at your disposal. As long as it is left standing at the end." Dumbledore smiled. Hermione grinned in response.

    "Severus, we'll have to play for time. Feed Voldemort some information about the Order, you know what I am talking about, and try to find out more only if it doesn't cause unduly risks."

    Snape nodded, and left with barely a glance at the other three people in the Headmaster's office.

    Once he had left, Dumbledore sighed, and sat down, his good mood seemingly vanished. "As promising as this sounds, there is grave news I have to share. Voldemort has gone further in his quest for immortality than even I expected, and to defeat him, much more than his location is needed." The old wizard paused. "This information cannot leave this room. I know Harry has learned some occlumency, and Miss Granger's mind… has defenses of her own, but be very careful." He looked at Harry, then at Hermione, then at Moody. "Voldemort has made Horcruxes."

    Moody jerked. "Horcruxes? More than one?"

    "Yes, Alastor. I don't know how many, but definitely more than one. One was already destroyed by Harry in his second year at Hogwarts."

    "The diary!" Harry exclaimed. "That was a Horcrux?"

    "Yes, Harry."

    "Excuse me Sir, what exactly is a Horcrux?"

    Dumbledore explained how one could, using the darkest magic, split one's soul and create a soul anchor, which would keep one's soul from passing on after death, allowing a dark wizard to return to life - with dark rituals, of course. Harry was horrified, but Hermione - Spygirl - seemed unfazed, analyzing the information she had received while Dumbledore explained that he had spent a long time looking through memories collected from various people who had met Voldemort in the past, searching for hints about items Voldemort could have made into Horcruxes, and places of significance for Voldemort. "I have made some progress, and I have a few leads. Fortune smiled upon us - following the death of Bellatrix Lestrange the Ministry has searched her vault, and among the dark items that were confiscated, I could secure a Horcrux. Voldemort had turned Hufflepuff's Cup into a soul anchor, and I was forced to destroy it with fiendfyre."

    "Is that the only way to destroy a Horcrux?" Hermione had a pensive expression.

    "Basilisk poison works as well, as Harry demonstrated."

    "A founder's relic. Did you check other such relics?"

    "The Sword of Gryffindor remains safe and untouched. Ravenclaw's Diadem has been missing for centuries, but I cannot rule out that Voldemort found it. I also have a lead on a locket said to have belonged to Slytherin." Dumbledore looked weary and sad, despite the rather positive news he was sharing.

    "There is more, Sir."

    "You are correct." The Headmaster sighed. "Harry, I did not want to tell you this, but…" he glanced at Hermione. "... I have no doubt that hiding this from you would lead to disaster. It pains me to say it. You, Harry, are a horcrux."

    "What?" Harry gaped at him. He, a Horcrux? Part of Voldemort's soul, the murderer of his parents, inside him? He felt his stomach drop. He was keeping Voldemort alive. Was he even alive, or some construct? He started to pant, tears streaming down his cheeks when he felt Hermione hug him.

    "Sir, this makes no sense."

    "I assure you, it does. His scar is the proof. A killing curse does not leave a scar. It hurts when Voldemort is nearby, as he found out in his first year. It forms a connection to Voldemort, as we know."

    Hermione kept hugging Harry, who was mumbling under his breath. "Sir… it still does not make sense. Harry is protected by the blood of his mother, you said that yourself. How could Voldemort have turned him into a horcrux in the face of such protection? His own blood would have made this impossible."

    "I do not know. Magic is unpredictable. But there is no doubt that scar contains a shard of Voldemort's soul."

    "Then we cut it out."

    "What?" Three voices sounded in unison.

    "We remove the scar."

    "It's a curse scar, lass, done by dark magic. You cannot heal that. Trust me, I know." Moody patted his leg.

    "I am not talking about magical healing, but a surgical procedure."

    Harry, Moody and Dumbledore were staring at her, and Hermione huffed before explaining modern surgery. Moody and Dumbledore remained sceptical, but Hermione was adamant to at least attempt to remove the scar by muggle means. She wasn't convinced - or did not want to accept - that Harry and not just his famous scar was a Horcrux. Harry, still shaken, suddenly realized what was at stake. If he was a Horcrux, then he had to die - had to be destroyed - for Voldemort to die. He didn't catch much of the meeting afterwards, the thought of his death, the necessity of it, capturing his entire attention.

    *****​

    When they returned to Grimmauld Place Harry was still shivering. The thought of him harboring part of Voldemort's soul… if not for his occlumency training and Hermione's support, he would have been catatonic. Even so they had to keep Sirius from rushing off to hurt Dumbledore when he saw the state Harry was in. They hid from the rest of the house until Harry - with all the help Hermione could provide - had calmed down enough to attend dinner without causing an incident.

    It helped that Hermione had lost no time getting her parents to search for a skilled private surgeon and arrange an appointment. It gave Harry hope. The few days until the procedure was scheduled to take place were still the longest he had ever suffered through. Even with occlumency he could barely keep the fear that he was a horcrux from overwhelming him.

    Finally the day arrived, and Harry and Hermione, using the pretext of more training with her parents, traveled with Dumbledore and Madam Pomfrey to the surgery. The two would attend the procedure, ready to counter any magical effects, together with Hermione. The surgeon would be obliviated afterwards, of course, for security reasons, but generously compensated and given memories of a simple but embarrassing procedure for a rich tourist.

    The preparations didn't take long, and Harry found himself on the table, holding Hermione's hand while he went under anesthesia. Her smile was the last thing he saw before he lost consciousness.

    *****​

    Harry woke up, feeling better than in a long time, despite the pain in his forehead. He reached up - he had bandage around his head. Hermione was at his bedside, smiling, and holding his other hand.

    "Did… did it work?" She nodded, and moved to kiss him tenderly. "Yes, it did. The scar was the Horcrux, and it has been destroyed. You'll have a bigger scar, but the surgeon was positive that further surgery would be able to reduce it. Madam Pomfrey said she will try to use magic on the wound as soon as she has recovered."

    "Recovered?" He noticed that she had some bruises.

    "The horcrux put up some resistance. Fortunately it lacked extensive protections like the Cup had according to the Headmaster, but they were still formidable. If not for Dumbledore we would have been hurt seriously when the Scar was pulled out of you. We've covered it up as an electrical fire so the insurance will pay for a new surgery."

    "Did anyone get hurt?"

    "Madam Pomfrey fixed everyone."

    That meant people had gotten hurt for him. Harry closed his eyes. He should feel guilty, but he was too happy to be alive, to happy to be free of the Horcrux, of the scar that had defined him for so many, to care much. Hermione had said everyone was ok, anyway. He held her hand until he fell asleep again.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  6. Threadmarks: Chapter 5: Deadly Traps
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Chapter 5: Deadly Traps

    Even Pomfrey's spells and potions didn't work well on the wound the surgery had left. Harry took a week to heal up enough to take up training again, and had to wear a "head protector" as Hermione called it. He also covered the bandages up, with spell or a headband, to keep the procedure secret. Fortunately, he could easily help with testing the muggle homing beacons Hermione's parents had provided. Granted, his "help" consisted mostly of keeping Hermione company while she was operating radio equipment a few miles away from Hogwarts. At least he had helped with setting up the instruments.

    "Ok. Start the first device." Hermione was using the communication mirror to speak to Sirius, who was in Hogwarts with the homing beacons selected for the test. Harry stepped closer, and looked over her shoulder at the mirror. Sirius winked at him.

    "No signal here. Try the next." Hermione ordered, frowning at the wizard. Her hand briefly held Harry's though, and she leaned a bit into him while they waited.

    "No signal either. Next." Harry looked around, keeping an eye on their surroundings. Constant vigilance, as Moody was fond to say in training. The pair hadn't had many lessons with the old auror before the surgery, but they certainly had left an impression. Sirius and Remus were good wizards and had fought in the first war with Voldemort. Tonks was a talented auror. But Moody was a legend in the Auror Corps, and not just because of his paranoia - of which Spygirl fully approved, as Harry had found out. Mad-Eye had more tricks up his sleeve than the other three instructors combined, and he was as ruthless as Spygirl when it came to fighting. His lessons were mentally as well as physically exhausting, but Harry loved them.

    "No signal. Next." Sirius made a joke about the two of them being so close together, but Hermione ignored him.

    "No signal. Next"

    "That's the last one. And the biggest."

    "Correct. It's the one with the strongest shielding against EMP."

    Harry was staring at the receiver. He had been told how it worked while they set it up. Was that…?

    "I've got a signal. It's not as strong as it should be, but it works." Hermione said and smiled with satisfaction. Then she hugged Harry, hard. "Voldemort can't hide anymore."

    Harry held her, chin resting on her shoulder. He didn't hear Sirius make wolf-whistling sounds. First his scar was dealt with, now this. He felt more hope than ever before that they would be able to defeat Voldemort. For good this time.

    *****​

    A few days later Luna arrived at No. 12 Grimmauld Place, back from the yearly Lovegood expedition, this time to Sweden. The quirky blonde was sharing Ginny's room, and entertained the whole house with tales from their hunt for crumple-horned snorkacks during lunch.

    In the afternoon, she joined them for their magic training. Contrary to the rest of their friends, she took Hermione's training clothes in stride - it seemed very few things fazed the young witch. She even asked Hermione where one could get such clothes, which had everyone stare at her. Especially Neville, who even after several lessons had still trouble concentrating when Hermione was doing something distracting. Harry didn't like it, but he couldn't fault Neville for it. Especially not knowing what was coming. He did fault Ron for staring, his mate should know better. At least he was getting better.

    Hermione had been stretching and now she waved Neville over. "Neville? Would you mind helping me with a disarm technique?"

    "Ah, err, of course." The boy shook his head and walked over to the girl who had conjured a few mats. The girl looked at Harry, then glanced at Sirius, Remus and Tonks. It would be now. Time for his part.

    He stood up and faced one of the dummys serving as targets, then started to circle it, running and sidestepping, casting various spells at it while he kept moving. It should look like he was training to cast and aim while running. Once the dummy was between him and Ron he cast the jelly-legs jinx, sending the spell past the Dummy at Ron. As expected, Ron yelled, and started to loudly complain about his aim, drawing the attention of everyone in the room to him. Everyone but Hermione, that is. Harry heard another yell, and a crack, and couldn't help but wince.

    "Merlin, Neville! I am so sorry! I was distracted and missed my grip!" Hermione sounded convincing to Harry, though he couldn't tell if this was Spygirl, or the girl who had lied to McGonagall in her first year, right after she had almost been killed by a troll.

    "My… my… my wand. It's broken!" Neville was staring at his father's wand, now in two pieces. He was trembling. "Grandmother will kill me!"

    "It was my fault, Neville. I'll speak to her and explain it.." That was definitely Spygirl speaking.

    "Err…" Neville stared at her. He was probably remembering Spygirl killing a dozen Death Eaters. "No, no. I'll explain it."

    The rest of the wizards and witches present were staring at Neville's wand with various expressions of dismay. Even Luna looked slightly shocked. Breaking someone's wand, even by accident, was almost a taboo in Wizarding Britain. Only the worst criminals and those about to be expelled from the Magical World got their wands snapped. Harry felt bad about the whole incident, but Neville needed his own wand, or he'd likely die. Or so he told himself. "Best get to Ollivander right now, Neville. We'll pay for a new wand."

    The boy was still shocked, but Tonks and Remus gently led him out of the training room. The auror sent a glare at Harry - apparently, he was acting rather rude. From the looks of it, training had ended for today. Ron, Ginny and Luna left as well, the girls headed to their room and Ron to the kitchen.

    Sirius stayed, and once the door had closed behind Ron, he cast a privacy spell at it, then turned to Harry and Hermione. Judging by his expression, he had caught on to what had happened. Before he could say anything, Hermione spoke up.

    "He was using a completely unsuited wand that did not match him at all. We could not convince him to change. Now, five years too late, he'll get a wand matched to him. His chances to survive an attack at Hogwarts will be much better."

    Sirius blinked. "Hermione… Harry… to destroy someone's wand… especially a friend's… it's simply not done."

    "We didn't destroy his wand."

    "What? I saw what you did!"

    "It wasn't his wand. The wand chooses the wizard, and this wand did not choose Neville. That was shown every day, with every spell he cast. Rest assured, we will certainly not be destroying his wand, once he has it."

    Sirius stared at her. Harry put his left arm around Hermione's waist, facing his godfather. The older wizard met his eyes, then looked away and sighed. "Merlin! When you explain it like this, it sounds so cold. Logical but cold. To destroy a wand…."

    "We're fighting the worst Dark Lord since Grindelwald. We'll do what needs to be done."

    Sirius shook his head, but chuckled a bit at that. "If you do this to your friends, then I can't wait to see what you do to Voldemort."

    Harry smiled at him. "That's the spirit!"

    *****​

    Neville did get a matched wand, and his spellcasting improved greatly. Enough even to impress his grandmother, or so he said. It was enough for Harry to stop feeling guilty about what he and Hermione had done. A week later the OWL results arrived. After all he had been through, and all that was still awaiting him according to the prophecy, Harry didn't care much about his, but seeing Hermione receiving hers made him happy. First her nervousness. It was adorable to see her bite her lips, stare at the letter and twist it in her hands while she was gathering the courage to open it. Then the way her face lit up as she scrolled over her results, a slight pout - she must have missed one "O" - and then she hugged him, and demanded to see his, full of enthusiasm, before apologizing for said enthusiasm. He hugged her back, using the opportunity to plant a kiss on the nape of her neck while her hair hid his lips from view.

    The moment didn't last long though. A letter from Dumbledore had arrived as well, inviting them to Hogwarts "to discuss the next year". It was a cover so the other residents of the house didn't suspect anything and meant Dumbledore had important information to share.

    A floo trip later - Harry still landed on the floor, but was getting better thanks to training with the Grangers which had improved his balance - they were in the Headmaster's office. Apart from Fawkes and Dumbledore, no one else was present.

    "Please have a seat, Miss Granger, Harry." Dumbledore sounded very serious. No twinkle, not joke. Fawkes thrilled once, and even that sounded less carefree than usual. Hermione simply nodded, and sat down. Harry followed her example, but couldn't help fidgeting a bit.

    "I have made progress in my search for the horcruxes. An old colleague of mine remembered a talk with the young Tom Riddle about horcruxes. It took a fair bit of of persuasion, but he shared his memories with me. I am now convinced Voldemort planned to split his soul into seven parts, to take advantage of the arithmantic properties of that number."

    Seven! That meant six horcruxes! Harry gasped. With three already destroyed, that meant they had to find three more horcruxes.

    "We are halfway done with our primary goal then." Hermione, of course seemed undaunted.

    "Exactly, Miss Granger. I also have discovered a location that was of some importance to young Tom, a seaside cave where he used to torment his fellow orphans. I think that Voldemort took advantage of the lack of information about what must be an impressive cave, or even made some efforts to hide its existence. It would be a good place to hide part of his soul, from his point of view at least."

    Hermione nodded. "Though he certainly did not rely on mere obscurity as a defence."

    "Again correct. I expect a number of strong defenses and traps."

    "I do not believe you are informing us of this just so someone knows where you are going, in case you do not return." Hermione - Spygirl - was grinning.

    The Headmaster sighed. "I do not like this, please understand, but as the knowledge about the horcruxes has to be kept a secret from everyone who is not already privy to it, my choices with regards to who can help me in this task are quite limited."

    "What about Sirius?" Harry asked.

    "I fear that after his ordeal at Azkaban, he is still too vulnerable to the danger a horcrux presents. You were unconscious when your scar was extracted, and so you missed just how evil and manipulative those abominations are." Dumbledore sounded weary and wary, almost scared. But what impressed upon Harry just how dangerous horcruxes could be was the expression on Hermione's face. It seemed even Spygirl was not as fearless as he had assumed. And she hadn't told him any details about the event either, now that he thought of it…

    "I know Miss Granger showed great resistance to the lure of the horcrux, and since you were unaffected despite carrying a horcrux in your scar for more than a decade, it is quite clear that your mother's blood protection renders you immune to it. As much as it pains me to admit, you two are uniquely qualified to assist me in this task. I'll do of course all in my power to protect you."

    The Headmaster still hadn't outright asked them to come with him. Harry could see how it tore at him, to expose them to this. "Of course we'll come with you, Headmaster. I have to face Voldemort himself in the future and I have faced one of his horcruxes already. It wouldn't be right to not do all I can to help you with this." Harry's voice was steadier than he felt.

    "And where he goes, I go, Sir." Hermione was back to the unflappable Spygirl.

    "We will take Fawkes with us. Phoenixes have an unique way to travel that cannot be blocked to my knowledge. It will greatly facilitate our escape, should the defenses prove to be too strong."

    That made Harry feel better about the whole plan.

    *****​

    A short time later they were standing on top of a cliff, looking at the sea below them. Or rather, at the impressive drop at their feet. Spygirl - Hermione would show far more hesitation at getting that close to the edge, Harry knew - studied the cliff. "Barring magic, it would be a very challenging climb to reach the opening. I assume there are muggle repelling charms."

    "Why are you assuming this, Miss Granger?"

    "Without such charms it would already have been discovered because it presents quite the irresistible challenge to a good climber. Muggles like such challenges, Sir. They like to be the first to climb a difficult route, or explore a cave no one else has entered before."

    "I see. We'll be using brooms to enter the cave. Please stay behind me, and only approach me when I call you. I cannot stress enough how dangerous the protections will be."

    Harry and Hermione nodded. Harry took his Firebolt out from from his enchanted pouch, and mounted it, followed by Hermione. Despite the seriousness of their task he couldn't help but smile widely when he felt her arms wrap around his chest and her body press into his back.

    *****​

    It had taken Dumbledore quite some time to get through the defenses Voldemort had placed on the cave entrance, but Harry was used to spending hours on his Firebolt, hunting a snitch. Hovering in place was not hardship at all. Hermione would likely feel it afterwards, if not for her cushioning charm. But finally, they were standing inside the cave, looking at a small island in the middle of it, surrounded murky water. Dumbledore studied the lake, and the island, frowning.

    "There are strong enchantments on the lake. I fear flying to the island would be ill-advised. And the invincible boat left at the shore is certainly a trap, like the entrance requiring a blood sacrifice." Harry and Hermione agreed. Dumbledore hadn't found the trap at the entrance triggered by the sacrifice, but had overcome the door's protection and gone through it. "Apparition is blocked as well, with the defenses tied into the cave itself. Bringing those down would likely cause a cave-in. Fortunately we have a friend available who can transport us to the island. Fawkes, if you'd be so kind as to travel with us?"

    The Phoenix screeched, and landed on Dumbledore's shoulder. Both disappeared in a flash of fire, to reappear on the small island. A second later Fawkes was back, landing on Harry's shoulder. Right after Hermione hugged Harry tightly they were surrounded by flames. They were hot, hotter than anything Harry had felt so far, but somehow didn't burn him. After a second, they disappeared, and Harry, still hugged by Hermione found himself standing on the island.

    In front of them was a small basin, filled with a shimmering, oily liquid. Dumbledore was studying it, his wand swishing with intricate movements. "I see. clever, clever indeed." he said, more to himself than to the two teenagers.

    "Sir?" Hermione had that undertone she got when she wanted to know something that she felt was being kept from her.

    "Oh. The basin is quite strongly enchanted, and filled with an unknown potion. I am rather sure that the only way to safely recover the horcrux is to empty the basin by drinking the potion. Given all the enchantments on it that I could identify, there is no alternative to getting rid of the potion, and trying to remove the horcrux from the basin with the potions till filling it would be… ill-advised. Very clever, Tom. Again, tied into the cave itself. Good runework there. Weakening the protections weakens the cave's ceiling."

    "Does that mean that one of us has to drink the potion, Sir?" Hermione asked in a voice devoid of any emotion. Harry was alarmed - she surely was not thinking to volunteer? He was about to volunteer himself when Dumbledore chuckled.

    "Oh, no, Miss Granger. It doesn't have to be a person." With a swish of his wand a camel appeared on the island. "An animal, conjured or transfigured, will do as well." Harry and Hermione stared at it. The animal bent its head down and started to drink the potion. "Tom was too clever for his own good. He does have a tendency to overthink things, and miss simple solutions."

    The camel finished emptying the basin and wandered off, and Dumbledore used a conjured stick to remove a locket from it. "There we go." He kept it dangling from his conjured stick while casting a few detection spells. "Let's see what defenses are on it… none?"

    Dumbledore's musing were interrupted by Hermione's shout "Attention!", followed by a desperate sound from the camel. Harry whirled around and froze for a second. The camel had wandered to the shore of the island, and had bent down to drink from the water, when pale, unnatural figures had risen from the water and grabbed the animal. The camel trashed around desperately, but could not stop the creatures from dragging it into the water.

    "Inferi." Dumbledore muttered. Hermione pulled out her submachine gun. "There's more of them coming!" she shouted, already firing at the monsters wading on the shore behind the group. To Harry's horror the bullets had no effect on what had once been people and the Inferi slowly came closer. Hermione pulled a grenade out of her pouch, but hesitated. "Too close already!" Harry cast a cutting curse, which cause one Inferi to lose an arm, but not even that stopped it. The next that cut off a leg did, for a bit.

    "Fawkes, the children first, then me!" Dumbledore shouted, fire leaping from his wand and reducing the front row of the undead monsters to ash. The phoenix cried out, and Harry was almost tackled to the ground by Hermione before the magical bird landed on his shoulder and the island disappeared in fire.

    Harry and Hermione reappeared on the top of the cliff, the phoenix disappearing again right away. A few seconds later he brought Dumbledore back, with his wand and the locket. For a few seconds no one said anything. Harry's heart was still beating as if he had just run from Hogsmeade to Hogwarts. Hermione was slow to relax her grip on him too.

    "I think I underestimated Tom. That was one very smart trap. If not for Fawkes we would have certainly be hard-pressed to defend ourselves against a veritable army of Inferi. But we did manage to recover what I am sure is a horcrux."

    *****​

    As it turned out, when they were back in the Headmaster's office, it wasn't a horcrux, but a copy. Someone else, a certain R.A.B., had stolen it, leaving the copy and a taunting note. Harry felt cheated. All that work, all that danger - for nothing? Dumbledore didn't look very happy either.

    "I think I have seen this locket before." Hermione said, hesitantly. Both Harry and the Headmaster turned to her. Even fawkes seemed to stop preening itself and pay attention.

    "Miss Granger, are you sure? That would have certainly been the original."

    Hermione stared at the fake locket, then closed her eyes. "I've seen it recently… yes…" she opened her eyes. "I think it's in a display case in No. 12, Grimmauld Place."

    Five minutes and a bewildered Sirius later they had found and recovered the real locket. It took double that time to open the locket, but they managed that thanks to Harry's ability to speak parseltongue. The horcrux itself would have put up quite a fight, but as Dumbledore had suspected, Harry's blood protection made him immune to it, and a few blows with the Sword of Gryffindor reduced the locket to scrap metal. Even with his immunity Harry was trembling when it was over - the shrieking demise of part of Voldemort's soul was a shocking sight.

    Dumbledore explained how the sword had absorbed the poison from the basilisk Harry had killed with it in his second year, but anything past "goblin-made steel can absorb such things" went over Harry's head. Hermione paid more attention though.

    *****​

    Late at night, back in their room, Harry was still not feeling that well. Sirius had asked what had been going on when they had returned late to No. 12 Grimmauld Place, but all they could and tell him was that it was related to the accident he had had with his head. Hermione had hinted at there being dark magic at work, and that they had needed something from the Black family library to counteract it. Harry had gone along with the deception, even though he hated lying to his godfather. It certainly hadn't helped cheer him up.

    Sprawled on his bed, he glanced over at Hermione, who was clearing her weapons for the second time. She didn't look like she had gotten over the events of the day either. Staring at her guns she started to speak in a soft voice. "I really need to learn how to use magic in combat again. Today I was useless."

    Harry would have liked to tell her it wasn't true, but she wouldn't have believed him. "You will. I can see how you, ah, act less divided than before. If that makes sense."

    She smiled at that. It was a tiny smile, and didn't reach her eyes, but it was a start. Harry observed as she dismantled her submachine gun again, as if it had malfunctioned today. After a short while he spoke up again. "Hermione."

    "Yes?"

    "Was my scar as … unsettling to destroy?"

    Hermione sighed, then nodded after a pause, closing her eyes. "Yes."

    "Did you feel as bad afterwards as you did after the Department of Mysteries?"

    Hermione turned to look at him, and nodded, understanding what he meant, and offered. She quickly reassembled the weapons and stashed them, cleaned her hands with a spell, then slipped into his bed. Both were hugging each other, trying keep the nightmares at bay, until they fell asleep.

    *****​

    In the morning neither Harry nor Hermione mentioned the cave. Not to each other, and not to anyone else. Sirius, Merlin bless him, even covered for them when Mrs Weasley asked what had happened, repeating their story about some accident with dark magic. Harry was sure that Mrs Weasley would have ranted about irresponsible kids and wizards if Sirius had not mentioned that Dumbledore had been with them. He still felt bad about the lies, even if only through omissions, that he was telling his friends. Spygirl though was fine with it - "need to know" she called it.

    They spent the day training with the Grangers. Harry liked it - it gave him the opportunity to distract himself in the lessons. And they didn't have to hide their relationship there. Which was a good thing, since it meant he had an easier time comforting Hermione. The girl was still worked up about her failure to destroy Inferi and he could tell she really wanted to be at No. 12 Grimmauld Place and try to overcome her problem with combat magic until she succeeded. She had that familiar expression on her face. Apparently raiding the Grangers' arsenal for "Claymore Mines" was just a band-aid.

    Her parents talked with her as well, which helped too. Even if her father made some zombie movie jokes that were not received well. At all. Harry couldn't help but grin at someone else getting bruised a lot during training, this time. A bit of schadenfreude, a few kissing sessions with Hermione during the breaks, and no lying to everyone - it was a happy day in Harry's opinion.

    His mood didn't survive the return to Grimmauld Place though - there a note from Dumbledore was waiting for them. Another "lesson" was scheduled for the next day.

    "Why can't we get those lessons too? We're in danger from Death Eaters as well!" Ron was complaining. Ginny didn't say anything, but looked like she agreed.

    "We're not learning spells there, or fighting. Dumbledore is teaching Harry about Voldemort's life." Hermione stated, not entirely truthful, but not lying either.

    "Huh?"

    Harry shrugged. "Dumbledore's decision."

    That was enough for the rest of the group to not question it further.

    *****​

    The following day saw Dumbledore, Harry and Hermione traveling with Fawkes to another location Dumbledore felt was important for Voldemort and might house one of his horcruxes: the ancestral home of the House of Gaunt, the heirs of Slytherin and ancestors of Voldemort himself. It sounded impressive, but it was a decaying shack in the woods. Barely more than some wooden hut, Harry thought once they were standing in front of the door. Appearances were deceiving though - the building was protected by magic that had taken Dumbledore an hour to deal with just to reach the door.

    After the cave, and the horrors hidden there, Harry was very tense. Even though he hadn't seen anything hiding in the forest around them, he kept his wand in hand, ready for anything. Hopefully. Hermione was in a similar state, one hand hovering above her enchanted pouch at all times.

    “Sir. Why do we need to enter the shack? A few charges planted at the right spots outside, and I can completely destroy the shack. That should deal with most defenses.” Hermione pulled out a block of C-4.

    The Headmaster shook his head. “We do not know how the Horcrux looks, Miss Granger. We would have to sift through the remains, trying to find an unknown item. This could take a very long time. We cannot spare this time. I am needed at the Wizengamot, and soon at Hogwarts again. And you two, left alone here, would not be safe. Voldemort’s defenses might not be able to hurt Harry, but after his revival with his blood, his spells are not hindered anymore, nor the spells of his remaining followers.”

    Hermione accepted the argument, even though Harry thought she did it grudgingly.

    "I do think using a brute force approach is not the best solution here." Dumbledore was speaking to himself as much as to the two teens, it seemed. "Maybe… yes." A swish and flick later, the wall next to the door parted, forming an opening. "If you use this way to enter, make sure you reinforce the wall's arc over the opening - it wouldn't do to have the house collapse on you if you just transfigured a load-bearing wall." Dumbledore explained, almost absentmindedly.

    The interiour was a mess. Harry was sure no one had cleaned here in decades, even back when it was still inhabited. The remains of various household implements and other trash were strewn around, but in a way that Harry was familiar with from Dudley's room, when his aunt was away and no one cleaned up after his cousin. He could see the paths whoever had lived here had taken, from the door to the next room. He and Hermione followed the Headmaster inside, making their way through what may have been an entrance hall, to the living room.

    "Intruders!" Harry jerked as he heard the shouts from several people. Someone had noticed them! He glanced around, then noticed neither Hermione nor Dumbledore had reacted to the shout. That meant…

    "Snakes!" he shouted, even as he heard dozens of voices cry out "Bite them! Kill them!"

    Then the snakes appeared, dozens of them, slithering up from holes, out from underneath debris, and even down from the ceiling. He shouted "Stop! Stop!" but the reptiles didn't listen. Next to him Hermione was shooting, a pump-action shotgun. Bits of snake flew around after each shot. Fawkes dove at a few snakes trying to get behind them, his flames driving them back. Dumbledore was transfiguring the debris around them into mongooses that went after the snakes. Harry cast a protego over their heads, which stopped three snakes from landing on them. He heard them curse while they slipped down the shield, trying to get through, but by the time they hit the ground, Dumbledore had raised a transparent wall around them as well.

    Hermione stopped shooting, fortunately - ricochets would have been deadly here, even Harry knew that. All three watched while the mongooses and snakes killed each other. Dumbledore reinforced the Mongoose's number with a few more transfigurations during the battle. Harry shivered - he heard the snakes crying, cursing, in anger and pain, as they fought and died. They were snakes, but it sounded like men and women dying. He felt Hermione grab his hand, hug him briefly. She must have realized what he was hearing.

    Then, finally, it was over. Dumbledore dealt with a few more magical protections while Harry recovered and Hermione kept watch. At last they found a room hidden under the floorboards of the living room - a makeshift cellar, barely bigger than a cupboard. There, at the bottom of a narrow, steep stairway, the horcrux was waiting, a ring in an ornate, open box.

    Harry stared at it. He didn't feel anything, but… he glanced to his side. Dumbledore whispered "Ariana..." and started towards the stairs. Hermione's eyes looked slightly glazed and she was shaking her head and grinding her teeth. Cursing, Harry drew the Sword of Gryffindor, pushed the Headmaster to the side, into Hermione and jumped down to the box.

    As with the locket whatever was protecting the horcrux had no effect on him. Filled with anger he hacked at the ring, missing him as often as he connected, until it was broken into pieces of metal and stone. When Voldemort's soul fragment was released, Harry was pushed back, against the stairway, by what seemed like a whirlwind. An inhuman, alien shriek of hatred and anger and desperation filled, overwhelmed his ears, and he thought the entire shack shook while the horcrux died.

    Then it was over, and he found himself on the ground, panting, in front of the remains of the box and the ring. Above him, Dumbledore and Hermione were moaning. With still shaking legs he climbed up. Hermione was standing, submachine gun ready, but didn't look as steady on her feet as he had come to expect. Dumbledore was still getting up.

    "That was… more dangerous than I expected. If not for Harry's immunity, I fear we would have succumbed to the defenses of the horcrux." The old wizard stated. He glanced at Hermione and she glared back at him. Before he could say anything to her though she cut him off.

    "Where Harry goes, I go."

    Sighing, the Headmaster nodded. "Let us just hope that fortune keeps favoring us. There is one horcrux left, although I lack a clear trail or even a clue to its whereabouts."

    With a thrill that lifted their spirits, Fawkes transported them back to Hogwarts. After a rest there, and another apology from Dumbledore for involving them in this dangerous task, Harry and Hermione returned to Grimmauld Place.

    From the way Sirius was narrowing his eyes at the couple during dinner they must have not fully recovered from the mission, as Hermione called it. Harry wasn't sure Sirius believed their excuse of having heard about some particular evil crimes of Voldemort, but his godfather didn't press the issue. Not in front of the other guests, at least. Harry half-expected him to come to their room later, but the older wizard didn't.

    That night Harry felt even worse for keeping Sirius in the dark, and not even cuddling with Hermione helped much.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  7. Threadmarks: Chapter 6: Deadly Battles
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Chapter 6: Deadly Battles

    Harry didn't feel better when he woke up in the morning. He looked down at the wild mane of brown, curly hair on his chest, and sighed. Hermione was awake already, of course, and looked up at him. He sighed again. "I don't want to hide what we are doing from Sirius."

    "What Voldemort did is top secret for a reason." That was Spygirl's voice.

    "I know. But he's my godfather. If anyone has the right to know, it's him. I don't want to lie to him. If I die..."

    "You will not die." Hermione sounded fiercely protective, and hugged him, hard. He hugged her back.

    "What we are doing is very dangerous. Apart from us, Dumbledore and Moody, no one else knows about it. If we die, the secret dies with us."

    "If you die, Voldemort wins."

    "Sirius already knows about that. He can be trusted with the … rest. I think."

    Hermione bit her lip. Harry knew that it was a sign of her thinking hard about it. It looked adorable, in his opinion, and usually he'd have smiled at the sight. Not now. Then she sighed. "It'll be hard to convince the Headmaster about the necessity of this. If we focus on the additional stress this secrecy puts on you, though..."

    Harry smiled then. "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission."

    "That's a line from Sirius." Hermione scowled, but her heart was not in it.

    "Yes."

    Hermione sighed again, and Harry knew he had won. He felt better, even though he now also felt guilty about dragging his friend into his trouble. But then, trying to keep her out would make her feel worse, and him feel even more guilty.

    *****​

    "A piece of Voldemort's soul? Inside your scar? And Dumbledore wanted you to die to defeat Voldemort?" Sirius jumped up, actually growling, wand in hand, and started towards the door of his room, which had been pretty much sealed off for this conversation. "I'll… Ooof!" He didn't get to finish his sentence since Hermione used a martial arts move Harry was not familiar with yet to throw his godfather on the ground and put him into an arm lock that made him drop his wand. "Let me go! I'll curse that old fool!"

    "Sirius, calm down. It has been handled. I am safe. The scar's gone, the horcrux destroyed. Just let us tell you what happened before you overreact."

    "I'm not overreacting!"

    "You are. Calm down and listen." Harry waited, but his godfather didn't seem to be willing to calm down. Part of him liked that very much, to see how he cared for him, enough to be willing to face Dumbledore for his sake. Only Hermione would do the same, or so Harry thought. Smiling despite the situation, he sat down in front of Sirius' face, half of which was pressed into his carpet by Hermione.

    "Well, Hermione won't let you up until you're calm, so you're not going anywhere. I'll simply continue." Harry grinned at his girlfriend.

    When he had finished telling Sirius how they had dealt with the Horcrux in the Gaunt Shack, the wizard had calmed down enough so Hermione let him up. She didn't hand over his wand though, not that he seemed to notice.

    "Merlin, Harry, You're… I know about the prophecy, but this…"

    "Harry is immune to the defenses on the Horcruxes, so it makes sense to have him deal with them. It's actually the safest way to destroy them."

    "I still hate it. You shouldn't risk your life like that. Nor you, Hermione."

    Harry shrugged at that, Hermione didn't react. Or was that Spygirl? It had become very hard for Harry to tell where Hermione ended and Spygirl began, outside combat. Hermione moved with Spygirl's balance and flowing grace even when fetching a book from the library or making notes. She had a rather ruthless attitude towards conflict, but his girlfriend hadn't never been that forgiving to begin with. He briefly wondered if Marietta still had her face mutilated with pimples. And, well, even when he was sure it was all Spygirl, training hand-to-hand combat, for example, she'd suddenly sport a smile that was totally Hermione. Part of him was still scared of the thought of being the boyfriend of Spygirl, but that was a small part. He was a Gryffindor, for one, and she was his best friend. And the thought of having Spygirl as a girlfriend also was exciting, in a way.

    Meanwhile, Sirius had become more pensive. "So… there was a Horcrux of Voldemort in my house. I shouldn't be surprised, It fits my rotten family. Regulus died in his service, after all."

    Hermione looked up. "Regulus?"

    "My brother. Regulus Arcturus Black. The apple of my parent's eyes, once we had our falling out."

    "R.A.B." Hermione nodded. "It fits."

    Sirius looked confused. "R.A.B.?"

    "The locket in the cave was a fake. Someone named 'R.A.B.' had stolen the real one, planning to destroy it. It is very likely this was your brother, seeing as the locket ended up in your house and the name fits."

    "Regulus…" Sirius was gaping. "Brother… I always thought you were..." He shuddered, and Harry could see his eyes watering. He moved towards his godfather, hugging him while the older wizard broke down and cried. He barely noticed Hermione moving next to them, putting a hand on his own back, keeping watch.

    *****​

    A few days after the talk with Sirius, and the following talk with Dumbledore, who was not too happy about Harry and Hermione informing Sirius, but accepted their reasoning, Harry and Hermione were in the Black Library, searching the diaries of older family members for clues about the fate and especially location of Ravenclaw's Diadem. Both of them looked up as the door opened, and Harry had drawn his wand without realizing it. He saw Hermione was frowning - she had pulled out her Walther PPK, not her wand. Again.

    Luna's head appeared at the door, peeking inside, long, blonde hair swishing as she moved her head left and right until she spotted the couple. Smiling, she skipped inside, making her way towards their table, though with two detours towards stacks she only glanced at. "There you are! What are you reading?" Without waiting for an answer she bent forward, looking at the book in front of Harry upside down and blocking his view of the page he had been reading with her head and hair at the same time.

    "Ah. Just some old diaries." Hermione answered.

    "Oh! It's a diary of a quester for the Ravenclaw diadem! Orion Black, right?"

    Harry and Hermione blinked. "What?"

    "My father's been looking for it too, when he was at Hogwarts, and he had collected the notes from various earlier questers." The blonde witch sidestepped and looked at Hermione's book in the same way, her hair dragging over the table and other books. "Oh, another quester diary. Are you looking for the Diadem too then?"

    Harry and Hermione glanced at each other. Hermione sighed. Harry grinned. "Yes, we are." It didn't seem to endanger their secrets that much, given how common that "quest" appeared to be, among Ravenclaws at least. "Are you looking for it as well?"

    Luna straightened up and smiled at them "Yes, I am. I haven't had much luck so far though, but I am sure I'll manage to convince our house ghost to talk one of those days, and find out what happened to the diadem!"

    "Your house ghost?"

    "The Grey Lady. She is Ravenclaw's daughter. If anyone knows where the diadem is, it has to be her. But she never talks about it, even when I ask her. I think shes still sad about the loss of her mother."

    Harry and Hermione shared a look again. This was important information - if Luna was correct. They chatted with their quirky blonde friend some more, until it was time for the afternoon lessons. In the evening they informed Dumbledore over the floo.

    *****​

    The next afternoon Harry and Hermione were following the Headmaster from his office to the 7th floor. "Your friend's information was correct. I managed to persuade the Grey Lady to part with her knowledge, which allowed me to deduce the current location of the object we seek." The old wizard was positively beaming. Harry was happy as well - they had found the last Horcrux! Though…

    "How did you find it in the room, Sir? It was enormous when we checked it last time." Hermione, curious as ever, asked while looking out for threats.

    "It wasn't me, Miss Granger, but the elves of Hogwarts. A hundred of them did not take long at all to search the room."

    "They didn't touch it, right?" Hermione sounded concerned, anxious even.

    "Oh, no, rest assured, no elf was harmed during this task. There we are." Dumbledore opened the door to the Room of Requirement and waved them inside.

    Harry saw that the elves had done more than searching the room - they had organized it, at least partially. Many of the lost items had been sorted, and stacked neatly. One area they had left, though, and in the middle of it he saw the diadem.

    Drawing the Sword of Gryffindor, he was about to walk over, then hesitated. "When I think about… we only found it thanks to Luna, and now we will destroy it before she ever sees it. I feel a bit like a thief, robbing her of the discovery."

    "It's a good thing she hasn't found it. She'd have been hurt or killed - or worse, possessed - by it." Hermione looked frustrated at not being able to be at his side while he dealt with the Horcrux, and her tone showed it.

    Dumbledore though nodded at Harry's words. "I think I can repair the diadem's form, though of course the fantastic magic it contained will be gone with the soul of Voldemort. A sad loss, but unavoidable. I'll present it to Miss Lovegood once Voldemort has been dealt with, and explain, without going into details, what happened. Her part in this will not be forgotten."

    Harry felt better at that - he liked Luna - and stepped forward. The Horcrux' defenses wrecked the area around it as Harry laid into it, but Lily Potter's blood protection held. A few blows later, the last Horcrux was destroyed.

    Voldemort was mortal again.

    *****​

    A day later Harry and Hermione's training with the Grangers was interrupted by the wards alerting the young couple of an attack on the house. Both froze in the middle of a set of pushups when they felt the wards flare up.

    "Someone's attacking the wards. Someone powerful." Harry bit out, grabbing his wand. Hermione was already sprinting towards the bench where her pouch was.

    "Voldemort." Spygirl stated while strapping the pouch on. She pulled out her Heckler & Koch MP-5 submachine gun while her parents grabbed assault rifles from the weapon rack.

    "How long will the wards last?" Mrs Granger asked while slipping on a shoulder holster with a pistol and additional magazines.

    "A few minutes at most. Then they'll either set fire to the house and seal us inside, or storm the place." Hermione answered. "We have to engage them while the wards are still active." She was already on the stairs leading up to the ground floor.

    Harry had pulled out his communication mirror and was shouting at it while he followed Hermione. "Sirius! Sirius! We're getting attacked at the Grangers by Voldemort!"

    The two had already left the secret stairway when Sirius answered. "Harry?"

    Harry cut him off. "Voldemort's here at the Grangers, attacking the wards. Inform Dumbledore. We're engaging."

    "What?" Sirius sounded confused.

    "Inform Dumbledore, Voldemort's attacking the Grangers. Fighting." Harry gasped while pressing himself against the wall next to the front door. Beside him, Spygirl was crouching and peering outside the window.

    "I can see five… six Death Eaters there. All masked. Spread out alongside the fence." She reported. Harry knew that was where the wardline was set. "There will be more out the back."

    The Grangers had come up as well. "Split up. We need a wand at each front." Mister Granger ordered while kneeling down and aiming his rifle.

    Harry and Hermione looked at each other. Harry didn't like to leave Hermione, but she nodded, and moved in a crouch towards the kitchen and her mother. Mister Granger glanced at him. "Ready?"

    Harry nodded. He thought of pulling his revolver out of his own pouch, but decided against it. His magic would be needed soon. He pressed himself against the wall. Despite expecting it, he still jerked when the older spy started shooting through the living room's window. The wards were still holding. He heard shooting from the backyard too - Hermione and her mother.

    Peering out the broken window while Mister Granger changed position and reloaded his assault rifle - an FN-FAL, Harry noticed - he saw two figures in black robes and silver masks on the sidewalk, in front of the fence. Neither was moving, and blood was pooling beneath them. Two more were standing, behind protegos.

    "Left one." Mister Granger bellowed, and started firing. Harry stood up and sent a piercing curse at the left Death Eater. The shield shattered under the assault from both magic and bullets, and the Death Eater hadn't the time to react before he was struck by several rounds, one of them shattering his mask on the way to his face.

    The two defenders were in the process of repeating the feat with the right Death Eater when Harry felt the wards go down. "Wards down!" he shouted, and threw himself to the floor just as Hermione's father killed the Death Eater with a close group to the chest. Then the living room's wall exploded, shortly followed by another explosion from the back.

    Harry shook his head to clear it. Bombarda, he thought. Mister Granger was moaning, hurt, but moving, pulling himself behind the remains of the couch. One Death Eater charged into the breach where the window had been, wand raised, but before he could cast a spell he caught a long burst from the wounded spy in the chest and went down, bleeding.

    Then the door as blown off its hinges behind Harry. He rolled on his back and leveled his wand at it. When he noticed the air ripple there, he realized the Death Eater was disillusioned. "Invisible" he shouted, and cast a finite at the disturbance. He heard a surprised "huh?" right before Mister Granger emptied a magazine into the doorway, the heavy bullets hitting the remains of the door, the wall, and the Death Eater.

    "Six down. See anyone else?" Mister Granger asked while wrapping a bandage around his bleeding leg. Harry got up into a crouch and was about to run to the man, but the spy held up his hand. "I'll live. Go and help the women!"

    Harry nodded, and ran towards the back of the house instead. Or what was left of it - the kitchen was in ruins, but he heard shots being fired, from two weapons, so both Hermione and her mother were still alive. His training kicked in, and he paused at the wrecked backdoor, peering outside. The rather extensive garden was wrecked, with most of the stone ornaments destroyed - and Harry knew how sturdy they were. He saw three robed bodies on the ground, one of them in the flower bed under the windows, the soil soaking up his blood.

    Hermione and her mother were near the pool. The young witch was firing her submachine gun on full auto, then barely managed to avoid a green spell - a killing curse, Harry realized - that wrecked the bench she had been hiding behind. While she rolled behind a flower pot, her mother, bleeding from a few gashes on her arm and chest, Harry noticed, ran into the other direction and threw a grenade, following it up with a series of bursts from her assault rifle. Neither one stopped once they were behind cover. They kept moving, firing while running.

    Harry spotted their target - they were facing Voldemort. He had known the Dark Lord had to be there, but seeing him throw spell after spell at the two women, seemingly unstoppable, was still a shocking sight. But he was a Gryffindor. Harry took a deep breath and started towards the Dark Wizard. If he could flank him, catch him unaware, destroy or at least weaken his shield… Voldemort was mortal, he knew that.

    If not for his awareness training he wouldn't have kept glancing around even while he was moving forward, and he would not have caught the movement behind him, where a man rose from a patch of grass that was too short to conceal anything bigger than a rat.

    Harry whirled around, but the wizard had his wand out already, mouth open, when he suddenly froze, gasping and clutching his chest with a silver hand. Pettigrew! For half a second, Harry was frozen too. Then his training took over and he cast a cutting curse at the man that had betrayed his parents. Pettigrew's eyes behind his mask widened, and it seemed as if he wanted to say something, but before he could manage to stammer out a single word the spell caught him in the shoulder, cutting his wand arm and part of his chest off. Harry was turning away, but still kept looking while Pettigrew, his mask torn off as well, sank to his knees, staring in horror at his severed arm on the ground. Then was raising his head, his eyes seeking Harry's even as he started to fall forward.

    Harry didn't see him hit the ground, futilely trying to keep from bleeding out. He was sprinting towards Voldemort, who had caught Hermione's mother with a cruciatus. Harry cast a piercing curse at the abomination, which, while not breaking through the dark wizard's shield, made him drop the spell and focus on him. Harry threw himself to the side to avoid another cruciatus and rolled over the ground, coming up in a crouch. He retaliated with a reducto, which splashed against Voldemort's protego. Hermione was shooting again, this time with an assault rifle of her own. The heavier rounds seemed to make no difference though - their enemy was still able to withstand both Harry's spells and Hermione's bullets. Their only chance would be priori incantatem, Harry decided. At the very least it would keep Voldemort from hurting anyone while their wands were locked into a contest of wills.

    He was steeling himself to force such a confrontation when he realized that Voldemort's wand wasn't the same he had been using in the graveyard or the Ministry. The shock almost caused him to be hit by a killing curse, and he had to dodge behind the remains of a bird bath. Mrs Granger was behind a broken bench, shooting again, and Mister Granger had dragged himself to the kitchen window, opening fire as well. Voldemort's shield started to falter under the assault, but the dark wizard sought cover himself before the shield broke completely. Another grenade landed behind the short wall their enemy had ducked behind, Harry and Hermione already moving to flank him when it went off.

    Before they managed to though Voldemort shot up in the air, flying without a broom, protected by another protego. The Grangers shot at him, but the Dark Lord disappeared before their fire had any effect. Harry was sure though that he had seen the wizard bleed.

    *****​

    Dumbledore arrived not even a minute later, with Sirius, Remus and Tonks - on foot, there had been extensive anti-apparition wards over the entire area. Shortly afterwards, aurors arrived, followed by Obliviators. Past making sure the Granger's wounds were healed and Sirius was posing as a dog, Harry only paid half-attention to the cover-up and clean up operation while he told Dumbledore what had happened.

    "He was wounded when he left. I am sure of that, Headmaster" he concluded, surrounded by a privacy spell. Hermione agreed with Harry's observations.

    "Wounded, and driven away. With him being mortal again, this offers a great opportunity. Especially with him forced to use a mismatched wand to avoid the priori incantantem effect." Dumbledore sounded pleased. "We can only hope he'll call Severus to him soon, so we can find his hideout, and corner him."

    "We will be ready, Sir. He will not escape again." Hermione stated. She sounded like Spygirl, clinically and controlled, but her eyes were filled with a fury Harry associated with Hermione all riled up. No, worse than that.

    He laid an arm around her shoulders, about to console her, when he noticed an auror floating the corpse of Pettigrew past them. It suddenly hit him - he had killed the man. He hadn't just fought, he hadn't just helped his friends, he hadn't just removed a shield, so others could kill. He had cut a man's arm and shoulder off with a spell, and watched him die.

    Thanks to the privacy spells no one else but those he was talking with saw him fall to his knees and vomit until only bile was left for him to spit out, and Hermione was now focused on helping him, distracted from her rage. It was a small consolation for Harry. He was sure Pettigrew's desperate expression when the man realized he was dead would haunt his nightmares for quite some time. Shuddering he drew Hermione into a hug.

    *****​

    Two days later Snape was called by Voldemort. While the potion master left with the EMP-hardened homing beacon, Harry and Hermione quickly prepared. Both wore what Hermione and her parents called "spysuits" - tight leather suits with low-heeled boots and reinforced gloves, plus vests with armor plates sewn into and lots of loops, pouches and pockets, filled with grenades and ammunition, and in Hermione's case, odd devices. They had their enchanted pouches too, of course, full of spy gear.

    Dumbledore and members of his orders were ready as well. Once they'd know where Voldemort was meeting Severus, they would rig the place with explosives, then the Headmaster would tell Snape to apparate out right before sealing the location off, trapping the Dark Lord, which would then be blown sky high. Harry was sure Dumbledore wouldn't have agreed to this plan if not for his firm belief that "the power he knows not" was Spygirl. Aurors would not be called in - Dumbledore didn't want to risk anyone warning the Dark Lord beforehand. It was a decent plan, in Harry's opinion. He had a Pepper-Up potion ready - two nights filled with nightmares despite Hermione presence had left him a bit weary. Sirius and Remus had assured him that he had done the right thing, but it hadn't helped much.

    Then the got the signal from the beacon, and the mission was a go, as Spygirl said. As soon as she had triangulated the location, Dumbledore took them there with a side-along apparition.

    They appeared at the edge of a small forest, in front of what looked like an old country house. Not quite a mansion, but still impressive. Everyone took cover. Spygirl was studying it through her nightvision gear.

    "I think this is a safe house Voldemort prepared during the first war. The Flennigans, the family originally owning it, died out during the war with Grindelwald, if I remember it correctly."

    "It won't be difficult to place the charges, but we need to reach the house first." Spygirl stated.

    "I believe I can help with that." Dumbledore stated, then transfigurated a boulder nearby into a strange animal - it looked like a giant mole crossed with a lizard, both the size of a horse. After a flick of his wand, it started to burrow into the ground.

    "We're tunneling under the wards?" Harry asked while chugging his potion. Since the animal didn't create a tunnel, but seemed to only move itself through the earth, he wasn't sure how this would work.

    "I will create a tunnel once my Burrowing Brassdink has shown me the lay of the land, so to speak. Those animals are famous for traveling through sand and earth while hunting and can sense cavities in the earth, which will allow me to seal off any escape tunnels Voldemort might have prepared, or will be trying to create." Dumbledore stated. "Once you're ready I will inform Severus, then block magical travel. You can fly off with your broom and spring the trap."

    "We'll be on the roof" Spygirl stated. Harry hugged Sirius and Remus, nodded at the Headmaster, and stepped to her side, pulling out his Cloak of Invisibility.

    They didn't have to wait long. The animal returned, and seemed to communicate with Dumbledore with some clicks and growls, to which the old wizard nodded. Then he turned to the assembled wizards and witches. "Voldemort has one escape tunnel ready. I will take care of it. Get ready - we will soon be facing desperate foes."

    A flick of his wand created a tunnel. After a last glance at Sirius, Harry followed Hermione into it. The tunnel was remarkably wide, and the two teenagers reached its end quickly. Hermione pulled out a small periscope, and pushed it through the ceiling while Harry used his wand to transfigure the earthen wall into steps for them.

    "We're at the side wall, exactly where we need to be." Hermione stated, then started to push through the thin cover left above them. Harry followed her. Once on top he sealed up the end of the tunnel, then both of them hid under his cloak of Invisibility and went around the house, placing packets of C-4 at regular intervals at the sides and the back of the house, connected by a thin wire. "More than enough to destroy a building four times this size", as Hermione had stated earlier. After they had placed the last charge Harry pulled out his Firebolt from his pouch. Moments later they were high above the house, still under the cloak, the wire leading to the charges trailing after them like the thread of a kite.

    Harry pulled out his communication mirror "We're in the air and ready, Sirius."

    A few seconds passed.

    "Do it, Harry!"

    Hermione pushed the trigger of her detonator, and beneath them the C-4 charges detonated, pulverizing the walls of the house. The entire building disappeared in a cloud of dust that almost reached the two teenagers flying above it. When the dust settled, the two were looking at rubble and ruins where the house had been - it had completely collapsed.

    Harry slowly guided the broom down to the ground, with Hermione ready with an M72 LAW. Just in case. When they reached the ground, the ruins were surrounded by Order Members, wands ready. Dumbledore was glaring at Sirius, who was glaring back. Both turned towards the two teens after they had landed. Harry's confusion at the situation must have shown since Dumbledore explained without a prompt. "I didn't receive a confirmation from Severus that he managed to apparate away before Sirius gave you the order to blow the house up."

    The animagus shrugged his shoulders. "He had ample time to do so. We couldn't risk the Dark Lord escaping. If Snape didn't manage to get out in that time, he was likely already dead for failing Voldemort, or something like that." Sirius didn't sound like he gave a damn about Snape's fate, Harry noticed. He didn't care that much either - he hadn't forgotten that Snape had almost gotten his godfather kissed by a Dementor.

    The Order started clearing the rubble, searching for survivors while Sirius and Dumbledore mostly ignored each other. Without Dumbledore it would have taken hours, but the Headmaster showed once again why he was known as the greatest wizard of his time. Rubble flowed, streamed away, forming neat mounds and stacks, with a few swishes of his wand. They found Voldemort's snake familiar first - crushed to death by blocks of stone. Harry remembered his vision of the attack on Arthur Weasley and was glad the animal was dead.

    Then they found Snape. Dead as well, most of his body crushed and the rest burned. Harry glanced at Sirius when the corpse was excavated, and the small smile on his godfathers lips sent a chill down his spine.

    Then they found Voldemort, and every gasped. His legs and one arm and most of his abdomen was flattened beneath a big slab of stone, pieces of what looked like a chair had been driven through his chest, burns covering what one could still see of him. And yet the Dark Lord was still alive.

    He should be dead, no one should be alive with those wounds, but either the Prophecy or his unnatural body were keeping him alive. If he was still breathing then so weakly one couldn't see it, and he seemed unable to speak, but his eyes recognized Harry. Widening, they tracked him as he stepped closer.

    Gazing down at his nemesis, the murderer of his parents and countless others, Harry raised his wand. Next to him, Hermione had her gun out and aimed, but held her fire, waiting for him.

    Harry didn't say anything. He simply wanted this to end, now, as he pointed his wand at Voldemort's neck.

    "Diffindo."

    This time no shade escaped the body.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  8. Threadmarks: Chapter 7: Deadly Dealings
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Chapter 7: Deadly Dealings

    “He’s dead! You-know-who is dead!” Whispers first, still sounding doubtful, grew in volume and conviction with every second, every repetition, until the witches and wizards present were shouting as loud as they could. Dumbledore nodded, and the dam was broken. People hugged each other, danced, others fell down on their knees, a wide smile stuck on faces wet with tears. Everyone was celebrating, cheering, crying. Everyone but four people.

    Harry stared at the corpse - or rather, the grotesque, inhuman head he had just cut off. It was over. Voldemort was dead. He took a deep breath, but rather than feeling a weight lifted from his shoulders, he suddenly felt empty inside. The prophecy was fulfilled. It was over.

    He felt a hand on his shoulder. Turning his head he saw Hermione standing next to him. Saw her again, he realized. She had been there since before he killed Voldemort. She had a shy smile on her face, tinged with sadness and understanding. Serious, not celebrating, but hopeful. He hugged her, hard. He didn’t know how long he held her in his arms before he kissed her.

    Sirius was standing next to the couple, Harry realized after a while. He was looking proud, but tense, his smile not reaching his eyes. His godfather was watching out for him, he realized, watching Dumbledore.

    The Headmaster had been staring at the severed head of Voldemort. Harry saw his lips moving, but couldn’t hear what he said. “Goodbye Tom.” Hermione whispered into his ear, with a nod towards Dumbledore. Then Harry met the old wizard’s eyes. No twinkle. No smile. He looked weary, and wary. Wary of them, Harry realized.

    In the middle of two dozen people cheering, letting their emotions run wild, some even shooting fireworks into the sky and others sending out patroni to spread the word, four people stared at each other, three on one side, one on the other.

    *****​

    An hour later, all four were in Dumbledore’s office. Three in front of his desk, him behind it. Outside the news of Voldemort’s final defeat was spreading like wildfire through Hogwarts, prompting the same celebrations the Order of the Phoenix had already started. The elves and Filch would have a lot of work the next day, Harry was sure of that.

    “I am disappointed, Sirius. You condemned a brave man to die. A man whose help had made the defeat of Voldemort possible in the first place.” Dumbledore sounded serious, but not as angry as Harry had expected. Maybe warding the hideout had tired him more than expected? Or maybe he was feeling the same emptiness Harry had been feeling?

    Sirius at least was not looking or sounding tired. He met the Headmaster’s gaze, and shrugged. “We couldn’t risk Voldemort apparating out as soon as he saw Snape fleeing. We wouldn’t have had such an opportunity again, Snape’s cover would have been blown.”

    “And you decided that Severus would have to be sacrificed. You had children kill him.” There was definite anger there. Harry hadn’t thought of that. Voldemort’s death had occupied his thoughts almost to the exclusion of everything else. He had helped kill Snape. Had placed the charges that caused the building to collapse on him.

    “Professor Snape had already wasted hours once before, when immediate action was needed, Headmaster.” Hermione - Spygirl - remarked, in a very cold voice. Dumbledore took a hissing breath, swallowing whatever retort he had been about to make. Harry was briefly confused, then he remembered that talk the four of them had had, in this very office, right after the battle in the Ministry, and he understood. He reached over and squeezed Hermione’s hand.

    Sirius looked at the two of them, his smile more a baring of his teeth. Harry suddenly realized that even if Snape had managed to apparate in time to escape the collapse, his days would still have been numbered due to his godfather and his girlfriend. Judging by how stiffly the Headmaster sat in his chair, he had to have realized that as well.

    The old wizard sighed, then cleared his throat. “With Voldemort dead soon it’ll be safe for you to return to Hogwarts not just as a visitor, but as a student, Harry. You will be able to enjoy the rest of your school years in peace.” He smiled at him, and only at him, Harry noticed. He suddenly realized that Hogwarts didn’t feel like his home, not anymore. He squeezed Hermione’s hand again, but didn’t take his eyes off the Headmaster.

    “What is different compared to 15 years ago, Headmaster?” Hermione’s tone held a slight challenge. Harry caught the man frowning, briefly, before he answered.

    “It’ll be just a question of time until Voldemort’s remaining followers are brought to justice. He has not many left, not after the losses he took during the summer.”

    “Will Harry be safe from those who will want to use him and his fame for their own desires?”

    “Harry is a young man now, no longer a mere child. I will do all I can to shield him from those who’d try to use or manipulate him. He will be able to be a normal student. As his parents would have wished for him.”

    Before Hermione could answer Harry squeezed her hand, and spoke up himself. “What about the danger to those students whose innocent actions” - he laid the sarcasm on thick there - “could be mistaken for a lethal attack?”

    “Harry, as much as having had to kill Voldemort must have shaken you, let me assure you, you are no danger to the students.” Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled now, his smile widened, but Harry felt a cold lump in his stomach. He didn’t care about being normal anymore. He didn’t want to be normal anymore, not if it meant he couldn’t be with …

    Harry snorted, and smiled sadly at the Headmaster. Wrapping an arm around Hermione’s waist, he kissed her cheek. “Where she goes, I go, Headmaster. And we all know, she won’t be going to Hogwarts.”

    He met Dumbledore’s eyes, unflinching, until the old Wizard’s expression changed to one of deep regret. “I wish this wasn’t true, Harry.”

    “Headmaster, above all, my parents would have wanted me to be happy.” Harry kissed Hermione again, until Sirius made wolf-whistling noises. Dumbledore’s eyes helt less regret and his smile looked more genuine when the three left the old wizard’s office and flooed to No. 12 Grimmauld Place.

    *****​

    Back in his godfather’s house, Hermione was hugging and kissing Harry again. He realized she had been afraid he might chose Hogwarts and his friends over her. Not that he could blame her, he had taken Ron’s side so often in the past, even if that had been before they had become a couple.

    After a while, Sirius’ coughing interrupted them. When they both looked - not glared, even if it was close - at the animagus, he grinned. “I am not saying I am disagreeing with your choice, Harry, only a fool would do that, but have you thought about what you’ll be doing now?”

    Harry hadn’t, but he he trusted Hermione to have given it more than just some thought. He was right.


    “We’ll keep up our lessons and training, hiring tutors as well. We can take our N.E.W.T.s when we are ready. There’s no longer a need to live at the Dursley’s next summer, so Harry can live here permanently.”

    Harry realized he’d be living with Sirius every day now, he’d not be at Hogwarts for most of the year, only visiting his family during the vacation. Both he and his godfather smiled widely at that. Of course the older wizard had to wink and add “And will you be living here as well, Hermione?”

    She grinned in response. “Of course.” Then she grew serious. “My parents still have to find a new house, and we’ll be able to install a floo there to easily travel back and forth, but even so… sharing a bed helps with the nightmares.”

    Sirius, for once, didn’t make a joke about that, just nodded in understanding.

    “Though there are things we need to do right now.” Hermione added. “We need to push Fudge for your exoneration. Between Harry killing Voldemort and Pettigrew’s corpse, and the fact everyone is celebrating, Fudge should not put up much resistance.”

    Sirius looked surprised. “I hadn’t thought of that.” Hermione rolled her eyes at him while Harry grinned.

    *****​

    A week later Harry was standing in front of the Wizengamot, together with Hermione, both dressed in the most expensive robes Sirius had found, waiting for Minister Fudge to finish his speech and award them their Orders of Merlin, First Class. Sirius himself was sitting in the audience, next to Remus and Tonks, with a proud smile seemingly stuck on his face.

    As it was often the case, Hermione had been right. Fudge had been all but bending over backwards to make sure the hero of the hour harbored no ill will towards him due to the “earlier misunderstandings”. Especially after the Department of Mysteries had confirmed that the prophecy had been fulfilled and Voldemort was dead. With a signature from the Minister for Magic Sirius was exonerated and pardoned for his escape from Azkaban. He had even waived financial compensations for his time in Azkaban, though everyone had understood that the Ministry owed him. Harry suspected Sirius had cashed in some of those favors owed to make sure Hermione would receive the same honors as himself, but he hadn’t bothered to ask. He didn’t like politics.

    The Weasleys, including Ron and Ginny, were also attending, as were Neville with his Grandmother, and Luna with her father. Harry was surprised they had received permission to leave Hogwarts for this.

    “And it is with great joy and honor that I present our saviours with the highest honor Wizarding Britain has to offer: The Order of Merlin, First Class!” Fudge had finally finished his speech, and walked towards Harry and Hermione, Percy Weasley following him, carrying a cushion with the two orders on it.

    With a pompous expression the Minister hung the order around Hermione’s neck, then shook her hand. The young witch was smiling widely. First muggleborn witch to receive this honor, she had told Harry the day before. He was very happy for her.

    Then it was his turn. The medal’s green ribbon felt quite light around his neck, the medal wasn’t as heavy as he had expected. He shook Fudge’s hand. “It’s an honor, Minister.” He had to fight to keep smiling when Fudge invited him to take the spot in front of the audience, for his own speech. His speech. The last few days had been filled with people offering him help with it. Dumbledore, wanting him to emphasize forgiveness and healing the rifts the war left in Wizarding Britain. Sirius, wanting him to sneak a few jokes in, with Remus trying to prevent such a faux-pas. Even - or rather, now that he thought about it, especially - Hermione, who wouldn’t get to have a speech of her own, due to “timing issues”. She had 30 inches of parchment ready about muggleborns, elves, creature rights, bigotry and reform. His love was many things, but a speech writer she was not. Harry had smiled at everyone, and promised them he’d consider their advice. He had - and rejected most of it. He knew what he wanted to be remembered on this occasion.

    “Honored Wizengamot, esteemed guests. I stand here, in front of you, with my best friend Hermione, the two youngest holders of the Order of Merlin in history. There is much I could, much I probably should say here. About our country, our world, our deeds and failures. What we did to earn this honor.

    I will not, though. I stand here to ask you all to remember the Dark Lord’s victims. Those who are not alive, or not able to enjoy this occasion. To remember those lives taken from us, destroyed, by his and his followers’ ambition, greed and hatred. To remember them, and promise their souls that we’ll never let such horrors happen again, to anyone. Thank you.”

    He stepped back to Hermione’s side, who was smiling at him. After a few seconds, the audience started to applaud, some even cheered, though the general mood remained more somber. Harry was pleased. Maybe this time Wizarding Britain would not forget the cost of what they were celebrating.

    *****​

    A reception in the Ministry’s atrium followed the ceremony. Elves served finger food and various beverages while guests mingled. Harry noticed that the statue in the atrium had been repaired and looked exactly like it had looked before they had used it as cover in their fight with Voldemort. Hermione, as was to be expected, scowled at the display. He patted her shoulder.

    After a almost never ending parade of Wizengamot members, foreign and domestic dignitaries, and people claiming to have known his parents he had never met before, all of them personally thanking and congratulating them, Harry and Hermione finally found themselves alone with their friends from Hogwarts. Probably thanks to some intervention by Dumbledore - Harry had caught the Headmaster’s smile when the four students had approached them, before the wizard had joined Fudge in some discussion.

    “Mate!” Ron clapped him on the shoulder. “Great speech. Mum got all teary-eyed, but great!”

    Harry smiled at Ron. His mate meant well, but he didn’t get his point. Hermione cut in “I would have prefered that the occasion would have been used to raise awareness of what brought us to this point, but remembering the costs of past mistakes was a good idea as well.”

    That was met with general agreement. Ginny, Neville and Luna congratulated them, followed belatedly by Ron. An elf came by, offering more food and drinks. Everyone grabbed some, Ron a bit more. The redhead swallowed a fried shrimp, then grabbed a floating sandwich. “So, when will you be back at Hogwarts? Your bed’s ready, and everyone is dying to know just how you killed Voldemort! And with Snape gone we actually have a decent potions teacher, Slughorn. He is head of House Slytherin, but he doesn’t favor the snakes. I am telling you, mate, it’s perfect now.”

    Harry froze for a second. He should have expected that. He exchanged a glance with Hermione. Time to drop the bomb. “We’re not returning.” Everyone but Hermione froze, then started to talk at the same time.

    “You’re not?”

    “Why?”

    “What?”

    “It’s not Wrackspurts.”

    Harry raised his hands. “Guys. Guys.” he waited for them to calm down some, especially Ron. “We can’t return to Hogwarts. Hermione is still Spygirl. First time someone tries to hex or prank her, there’ll be blood. And you know someone will try - Slytherin or Gryffindor.” Hermione nodded.

    “But… but… if you don’t have a muggle weapon, then you’ll be fine.” Ron tried to argue. He had a point, Harry had to admit.

    “Would you give up your wand to attend Hogwarts, Ron?” Hermione squeezed his hand while she addressed their friend.

    “What? Of course not! What would be the point? You need your wand there.”

    The witch sighed. “Giving up my weapons would be the same as giving up my wand. It wouldn’t be me.”

    “You have been living fine without them for years!”

    “I wasn’t Spygirl then. I have changed.”

    “I have changed too, mate.” Harry cut in before the argument could escalate. The Ministry atrium wasn’t the Gryffindor Common Room, after all. And the press was present. He noticed Ron’s expression, the brief flicker of fear in his eyes. “No, I am not like Hermione.” Ron relaxed. “But I realized that Hogwarts isn’t be home for me, not anymore.” Harry pulled Hermione into a one-armed embrace. “I want to be with her, with all of her. And I wouldn’t be able to at Hogwarts.”

    Ron stared at him as if Harry had just told him he was banned from playing, watching and talking about Quidditch. “Blimey, Mate. You are serious.” Neville was silent, but seemed to understand, Ginny was rubbing her eyes, and Luna was smiling.

    Harry resisted to urge to look around where Sirius was and point at his godfather. “Yes I am.”

    “What will you do? Go to Durmstrang or Beauxbatons?”

    “No. We’ll be privately tutored in the various magical subjects, and also be trained in muggle subjects. I’ve drawn up a preliminary schedule for the two of us.” Hermione started to explain, but Ron held up a hand.

    “Ah… will we see you again? I mean…”

    “Of course. We’re not leaving the Magical World.” Harry assured him, adding silently ‘not completely’. “We’re just being home schooled, so to speak. We’ll visit during every vacation, as before.” That seemed to reassure Ron and the others some. Not that Luna seemed to need such reassurances, she was the only one of their friends who seemed happy at the news.

    The group broke up soon after that, with reassurances of future meetings, vacations, and letter exchanges. Harry knew they’d do all that, but he also knew that he had grown apart from his friends. Except Hermione, of course. It didn’t hurt as much as he had expected.

    They were looking for Sirius when Harry spotted Dumbledore making his way towards them. The old wizard looked sad again, and Harry realized why his friends had been allowed to leave Hogwarts for this occasion. Judging from the way Hermione’s lips thinned, she had figured it out as well.

    “Harry. Miss Granger. Are you leaving already?”

    “Headmaster. Indeed, we are.”

    Dumbledore glanced briefly over to where Neville and Ron were talking with Ginny and Luna.

    “I see.” After a short pause he added. “My door is always open should you have a question your future tutors cannot answer.”

    “Thank you for your generous offer, Headmaster. We’ll be sure to take advantage of it, should the need arise.” Hermione smiled at the wizard. Harry wasn’t sure the offer had been aimed at her as well, but Dumbledore certainly wouldn’t retract it now. He stared at the couple for a moment, his expression unreadable. Harry met his eyes, with a bland expression.

    “Good evening, Sir.” They shook hands, and the old wizard went back to mingling with his fellow movers and shakers of Wizarding Britain.

    Harry wrapped an arm around Hermione’s waist and looked at the reception, then at the statue again.

    “Time to leave.”
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  9. Threadmarks: Epilogue: Five Years Later
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Epilogue: Five years later

    "One man on the roof. No one else visible." Mister Granger's - Gabriel's - voice was calm and professional.

    "Or invisible." Sirius' was neither. He sounded excited. Even after three years of doing this, the wizard treated it as a game - 'the spy game', he called it.

    Mrs Granger - Ellen - didn't say anything. She was aiming her rifle. All three were 400 meters away from the mansion they were observing.

    "Copy. We're at the wardline, port-a-tunnel ready." Harry answered through the communication crystal stuck on his ear. Next to him Hermione was ready with her invention - a simple device that created a 1 meter wide tunnel deep enough to go under most ward lines. All of them - the Grangers, Sirius and the Potters - were wearing skin tight spysuits enchanted with adaptive camouflage and much higher tensile strength one would credit the fabric with. Enough to stop most bullets and other weapons. It also looked great on Hermione, Harry thought each time he saw her donning it. Or removing it. A vest offered enough enchanted pockets to carry a truckload of gear with them and additional protection.

    Harry looked at the mansion in front of them. He could barely make out the figure on the roof. Inside they knew a would-be Dark Lord was preparing to sacrifice his captives in a ritual meant to boost his power. Hermione was sure it would fail, she had studied the research material the Department of Magical Law Enforcement had secured in a raid, but that wouldn't help the victims. They would help them though. They would do it even if the Department of Mysteries wasn't paying them to deal with the latest "potential problem" in Britain, but the money and favors certainly didn't hurt.

    Harry saw the figure on the roof drop suddenly, then heard Gabriel's verbal confirmation: "Roof guard down." Ellen had hit her mark, as usual. Hermione deployed the tunnel, which opened a shaft going down five meters, then slid down the integrated rails, landing softly on the bottom. Harry followed her down. When he hit the bottom his wife had already started to crawl through the tunnel. They had a lot of practise at that. He speed-crawled after her, appreciating the view. The tunnel couldn't be much wider for structural reasons, or so Hermione had explained to him.

    They reached the other end, another shaft, and climbed up using the grips provided there, then closed the tunnel after activating the suit's camouflage. It was a sort of magical chameleon effect, working differently than a cloak of invisibility, but providing similar concealment. Hermione cared about the mechanics, unsurprisingly since she had created it. Harry only cared about the fact that it worked. And that creating it made his wife happy.

    Both spies arrived at the mansion's wall, using gecko-gloves and boots to climb up to the first story window. A quick flick of Harry's wand had it open, and they slid inside.

    "We're inside. Moving to the basement now." Harry informed the three members of the team waiting outside. Hermione was already moving towards the stairs, wand and pistol out. Harry followed, his own magically silenced HK Mk23 appearing in his right hand. He had learned to shoot well, in the years since they had left Hogwarts. Hermione was better with guns, though that didn't mean much seeing her Spygirl skills. Harry still took pride in the fact that he was still a bit better with magic in combat even though she had finally learned to use a wand as Spygirl.

    They reached the stairs - no elevators in this house. Harry wished they had managed to complete the "Travel Map Project", Hermione's attempt to replicate the Marauder's Map, adjusted so it worked anywhere. It would come in really handy right now, but so far she hadn't succeeded even with Sirius' help, and with Remus', when the werewolf could slip away from his wife and children.

    There was no one on the stairs, but someone was in the entrance hall. Dark robe, long hair, bored expression, and now a hole in his head courtesy of Hermione. He dropped to the floor with a dull thud without ever having seen who killed him. They could have stunned him, but the DoM wanted the Dark Lord and his followers disappeared. Seeing what they had done to a couple of muggle girls, and were planning to do to more girls, Harry was happy to oblige.

    A few years ago it would have bothered him, but working as a freelance agent, usually for the Prime Minister or the Department of Mysteries, he had seen too much, done too much to care much about murderers anymore. Hermione of course understood that. Her parents too - they were glad, Harry knew, to be 'back in the game'. Sirius claimed he needed 'the spy game' to endure his time in the Wizengamot. Even with a few key 'accidents' happening to particularly loathsome members of that body, trying to push reforms through was a chore which could drive even a saint to violence, or so Sirius stated everytime he returned from a session.

    His godfather also always tried to persuade Harry to get a seat as well, 'to share the misery', but Harry was happy with his cover job as a seeker for the Chudley Cannons. The team was so bad, even if he missed a game or two due to a mission, they would not fire the only player able to win a game for them. Apart from the supporters of the Cannons all Quidditch fans thought he was wasting his talents though, and often voiced those thoughts quite vehemently. Harry had the last letter from Viktor Krum framed, a masterpiece of passionate pleading. Ron of course was ecstatic about Harry's cover job - the Cannons had won games for the first time in decades.

    "We're at the entrance to the basement now. One enemy down in the entrance hall." Hermione opened the door with a silent alohomora, then went inside, gun and wand out. Her cover job as a "private researcher" was not questioned by anyone of course, even though what she published was, at best, a quarter of what she actually did. Although her "Study about the effects of inbreeding on magical capability" certainly had done more for the reform cause than any bribe from Sirius, at least after the Department of Mysteries had validated it following another covert mission done for the Unspeakables.

    Harry and Hermione went down a twisting stairway, illuminated by pale blue gaslights that made the two of them appear sickly. Or would have, if not for the fact that their faces were covered with enchanted goggles and a mask.

    They discovered a sturdy door at the end of the stairs. "No chanting yet or screaming - they haven't started yet." Harry commented, after checking for privacy spells.

    "They would have been suicidal if they had. If they started before midnight, the ritual would fail spectacularly." Hermione answered.

    "Spectacularly?"

    "Think crater."

    "Ah."

    "Ready?"

    "Yes."

    Hermione opened the door with a reducto, revealing a big room with thirteen startled robed men and women standing around what looked like a marble altar. At the back were three cages, hanging from chains, with a frightened, probably silenced girl in each. Harry noted two more doors in the room, and a big cauldron to the side, which reminded him of the ritual in the graveyard in Little Hangleton.

    He and Hermione were already shooting and casting. Hermione killed the two closest to the cages with headshots while diving to the side. Harry sidestepped, cutting one dark wizard in two with a sectumsempra. He shot at the apparent leader - he wore a red robe instead of the black ones everyone else wore - but his bullets were stopped by a glowing blue shield. Not a total amateur then.

    Harry dodged a salvo of badly aimed spells - more dangerous due to the scattershot effect that produced - and stopped the leader's killing curse with a quickly conjured stone wall. Hermione, so far unopposed, took out two more wizards with headshots, then threw a flash-bang grenade. The couple's enchanted goggles protected them, but their enemies were blinded and a few were stunned long enough for Harry and Hermione to kill half a dozen more. Two and the leader were left.

    And there he ran! As Harry expected the leader tried to escape, sacrificing his underlings and trusting his shield to protect him. Harry turned the floor under the man's feet into frictionless ice, and watched him slide into the wall. That disoriented the man long enough for Harry to break through his shield and nail him with a piercing curse through the shoulder that rendered his wand arm useless. A stunner and body bind curse took him down while he was trying to grab for his wand with his other hand.

    Hermione had hit the remaining robed wizards with a volley of stunners. She'd be sifting through their minds to see if there were more of them in the mansion while Harry went over to the captives in the cages.

    Harry briefly checked them for injuries and spells. All three flinched away from his wand, no surprise there. Muggles, judging by their dirty, ripped clothes. "You're safe now, we're with the government." he stated, trying to calm them down, though with limited success. "Overwatch, we have taken down the leader and secured the captives."

    "Copy. No change outside."

    "According to our prisoners all enemies are accounted for." Hermione reported. Harry didn't hear her magically silenced pistol fire, only the impacts of the bullets. He opened the cages and helped the girls out while Hermione transfigured the captured leader into a small stone figure and dropped it in her pocket.

    "Inform the DoM that they can come to clean up." Harry stated through the crystal, then sent the three girls to sleep. The Department of Mysteries would handle them as well. They'd wake up, obliviated of the magic parts, thinking they had been kidnapped by a gang.

    He turned around, and saw Hermione taking a sample from the cauldron. Ever the researcher. He smiled under his mask. "Let's go, love." Hermione glanced at him, then at the altar, nodding. "I'll study the set up in our pensieve later."

    By the time they left the mansion the Unspeakables had arrived. Both the masked agents and the masked wizards nodded at each other as they met at the door. "One man on the roof, one in the entrance hall, a dozen in the basement. Three muggle victims, alive and sleeping." Harry stated, his voice changed, probably with the same enchantment the Unspeakables used.

    Hermione pulled the transfigured leader out of her pocket, then undid her spell. "One slightly wounded Dark Lord candidate." The leader of the hooded wizards nodded, and transfigured the man again. The wards were down now, courtesy of the Unspeakables, so Harry and Hermione simply apparated away to their designated rally spot. they took Hermione's parents, and randomly apparated around to throw off pursuit, then back to No 12 Grimmauld Place.

    *****​

    As soon as they had arrived Harry pulled his goggles and mask off. As comfortable as the set up was thanks to magic he still felt relieved. Hermione did the same, shaking her long hair out, then grabbed him for a passionate kiss. Successful missions always got her in a frisky mood. She wasn't the only one - Ellen had the same glint in her eyes Hermione had, and was pulling her husband away. The Grangers had their own room, or suite, here, but were headed towards the floo to return to their home.

    Sirius was shaking his head. "Youth today! How impatient! In my time, we did things differently." Hermione stuck her tongue out at him. "Oh, shut up, you old dog!" she chided him. Harry grinned - he knew Sirius would hit Diagon Alley, looking for some pretty girl he could charm, as soon as he had changed his clothes into something more presentable. Laughing, the older wizard went off, leaving them alone.

    Harry pulled Hermione into his arms. Marrying her had been the best thing he had done, bar none. He was not alone with that opinion. Coverage of their wedding last year had accounted for half the year's profit of Witch Weekly, if those rumors could be trusted. This year the magazine was speculating about a possible pregnancy each time Hermione made an appearance in public. Not that that would happen anytime soon, Harry knew. Hermione didn't want to have children too soon. He was glad for that, since they were not ready for kids - he had seen Hermione's detailed education plan for their future kids. Her idea of "adequate self-defense training" needed a lot of adjustments yet.

    Hermione smiled up at him, licking her lips, and Harry stopped thinking for a while. They were still kissing when their clothes started to drop to the floor.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
  10. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

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    I like it. Some minor typos ("dieing" for "dying" seemed to crop up a bit) but nothing that really bothered me.

    Poor Ron and Ginny, missing out. Guess they'd have to find someone else then.

    Overall, quite an interesting take on the concept.
     
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  11. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Thanks!

    Ron and Ginny will manage. They're heroes after all, and will reap the rewards for that - especially since they will be far more visible in their remaining school years than absent Harry and Hermione.

    I noticed it does not conform to my latest version at home - had to fill in a few paragraphs to explain why they didn't simply blow up the shack in chapter 5 - so I'll have to go over the chapters again for typos.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
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  12. alec_potter

    alec_potter I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Nice one.
     
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