A/N- Well, folks, I can honestly say that this story has taken a lot longer to finish than I ever imagined. I sincerely apologize for that. I'm slowly getting more into the habit of at least contemplating finishing this story. To those that have hung tough and stuck with me through the long haul, I appreciate ya. Hope you enjoy the beginning of Part Three. Finally!
Shout out to my own personal cheerleaders, Rebecca and Alex. I'm not sure what I would have done without you two encouraging me to get my ass in gear!
Disclaimer: As I've stated before every chapter so far in this story, I don't own the characters. They belong to J.K.R. I don't own the idea of the plot for Part One, that belongs to Hermione Lyra Malfoy-Riddle. I haven't made any money from this story or any other. My bank balance is still less than a hundred bucks. My next story, I'm doing this once at the beginning and calling it good, lol.
July 31, 1997
Hermione was trying to choose which dress she wanted to wear, the floor length crimson one that her Aunt Cissy had demanded that she get or the knee-length royal blue one that Juliet had chosen for her when they had last gone shopping. Dresses were the least of her worries and even though she needed to worry about more important things, she wanted something blessedly normal in her life at the moment.
For the past month, Hermione had done nothing but prepare for the horcrux hunt that they were going to have to go on. It wasn't something that really pleased her but the facts were facts. They couldn't be seen coming and going from Blackmoor; there was a high risk that they would be followed. The idea to go on a hunt had been Draco's idea, surprisingly.
The idea of leaving the safety of their blood wards and camping out in the elements while searching for pieces of the Dark Lord's soul hadn't gone over well with their fathers. In fact, Sirius had lost his temper and started ranting about all the things that could go wrong, all the people that would be searching for them, and so on. Hermione had sat there through the entire thing, letting her father blow off the steam. Uncle Luci had been silent in his worry, which was almost worse than her father's show of temper.
When Sirius had finally calmed down, Hermione had calmly explained their reasoning behind going on a hunt. She reasoned out all the things that could go wrong if the wrong people were to realize that they were leaving the manor everyday to search for something. She had given them their plans so far and both had grudgingly agreed that it was probably for the best. However, they made all three teens promise to watch each others back and to not do anything foolish or take unnecessary risks.
Hermione had done nothing but train and plan for the past month. She acquired Uncle Luci's tent that he would use when they camped out at the World Cup each year and filled it with everything she thought they would need. Food, clothing, blankets, books, towels, toiletries, the list was endless. She did her best to store everything in the tent but some things just weren't possible. The tent was placed in a purple beaded bag that Aunt Cissy had bought her two years ago at Christmas. Hermione had spent a fair amount of time putting an extension and feather-light charm on it, so nobody would have to carry a huge bag that weighed a ton. The books that she had chosen to take with them had been chosen with care. While she wanted books to read for pleasure, she knew that she needed to make sure that they had books for research as well. She had a feeling that the horcruxes weren't going to be easy to find, let alone to , she packed away books discussing wizarding culture and history. Dumbledore had told Harry that he thought that the horcruxes would be found in places that meant something to him. Hopefully, the memories that Dumbledore had shared with Harry would help in some way after all.
Since they needed to leave on this hunt, Hermione had decided that they would do so publicly. It would draw attention from her family and since the Death Eaters already knew that they couldn't get through the blood wards, she hoped that they would leave Blackmoor and Malfoy Manor alone completely.
It was for this reason that they were getting ready to celebrate their birthdays together in the newest club in Diagon Alley. Fred and George had waxed on about how great it was, how much fun they had there, and Hermione figured that it was just as good there as anywhere else. She really hated that whatever business was going to host the party would probably sustain damage since they were sure that Death Eaters were going to attack at some point. Hermione had a portkey pre-made that would take the four of them to one of the coffee shops that her father was fond of in muggle London. The problem would be making sure that they all got to each other when the chaos started.
Hermione finally picked up the red dress, slipping it on easily. If this were to be her last appearance before going into hiding, she would go out with a bang. As much as she liked the blue dress that Juliet had chosen, the red was more her style. She clipped on earrings and made sure that her makeup was immaculate before sitting down before the large window in her room.
Her mind drifted again as she listened to the water running in the shower; Harry had come in late from training and was showering off before he dressed. She was still reeling that Dumbledore, a man who had abhorred her from the time she was two years old, had left her something in his will.
The Ministry solicitor had arranged to meet with herself, Harry, and Ron. She couldn't figure out why until he pulled out a scroll that was sealed with visible family magic. It was clearly a will and she didn't know anyone that had died aside from Dumbledore. The magic guarding the will shimmered when Mr. Talon broke the seal.
For reasons unknown to Hermione, the Headmaster had gifted her with his copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Granted, it was quite old; it was written completely in runes. There were sketches and notes in the margins that were helpful in deciphering the text. Hermione had already deciphered half the book but she still had no idea why the Headmaster had thought that it was important she had it.
Harry had been gifted the Sword of Gryffindor and the very first snitch he had ever caught. It had a compartment on it that was quite unusual but it wouldn't open. She wasn't sure what spell the Headmaster had used to lock it but it was effective. The words "I open at the close" would appear on the tiny golden ball and Harry would just get more frustrated. Hermione wrote it off, sure that whatever was placed inside wasn't going to hinder their search.
Ron had received something called a deluminator. Hermione had read about them years ago and knew that they were rare. Dumbledore had been the creator of the object so she supposed that there was a reason behind him giving the youngest Weasley male with his personal one. For the life of her, though, Hermione couldn't think of one.
Since they were from Dumbledore, Hermione made sure that all their gifts were packed away with their things in the tent. The Sword was missing, however, as it couldn't be left to Harry, according to the solicitor. It was entailed to Hogwarts, which Hermione wasn't sure that she believed, and therefore couldn't be gifted. Not to mention that there was word that it had gone missing.
Hermione had seen Uncle Sev once since he had fled the school with Theo Nott. It had been late at night, much later than she usually stayed up. Harry had fallen asleep on the couch next to her and she had covered him up to keep him warm while she finished the last chapter of her book. Moody was sitting closest to the fire while her father and uncle were finishing off their last chess game of the night.
Uncle Sev had appeared, apparating in rather than flooing. He looked exhausted and disheveled, bags under his eyes. He seemed even paler than usual and Hermione felt her heart lurch at the sight. She shoved Harry off her lap and had thrown herself in his arms. He caught her easily and held her tight, breathing in the scent of her hair. She released him to see that the others were waiting to hug him as well so she stepped back and had cast a patronus to go to Draco.
After everyone had greeted her godfather, he settled on the couch between herself and Draco. She held his hand in hers and listened as he updated them as best he could. There had been a revel going on and he had slipped away quietly. He didn't have long with them so hurried to report.
Voldemort had been leaving the country more often, telling nobody as to why. He had plans to overtake the Ministry but hadn't set a date for that yet. Everything was in place, though, and it would be accomplished quickly and easily when the time came. He was allowing his followers to run raids in muggle London, razing the homes of muggles and muggleborns, taking them back to Nott Manor for revels. Severus helped where he could but there wasn't much he could do except a quick Avada for the victims. Hermione had been heartbroken for her godfather but understood that mercy was much appreciated.
He had been granted the position of Headmaster now that Dumbledore was gone and the Ministry would soon be in his control. Hermione had thought it a good post for him. Somewhere familiar and away from all the evil that the Dark Lord was committing. Of course, he was going to have to babysit two Death Eaters since they were going to teach but she supposed that that was still better than being on the front lines of the war.
It was from Uncle Sev that she learned that the Sword of Gryffindor was missing from Hogwarts. He had revealed to them that a fake had been placed in Bellatrix's vault in Gringotts but he had no idea where the real Sword was. He had revealed that Dumbledore's portrait knew where it was, just refused to share the information. She supposed that aside from lighting his portrait on fire, there was no way that they could make him talk either. Hermione had been fine with setting it on fire but her godfather had glared at her and continued.
The door opened, startling her from her reverie, and Harry stepped out of the bathroom, towel slung low on his hips. He shot her a grin when he caught her staring, making her laugh. He dropped the towel and started dressing in the robes that Dobby had laid out for him earlier that day. Once he was finished, he strode toward her and offered her his arm. She threaded hers through his and smiled.
One last good time before everything went to shite.
Harry and Hermione met Draco and the adults at the floo. Hermione turned to take one last look at her beloved home, unsure as to when she would see it next. Her father caught her eye and opened his arms to her. Even though she was the matriarch of the Black family, even though she was an adult that was getting ready to go to war, she hugged her father. Tears slid down her cheeks since she wasn't sure if she would see him again. War was ugly and people died. She just hoped that her family survived. Her fathers hand carded through her curls as she got herself under control.
"We promise to be careful and not take reckless risks. I want you to promise the same," Hermione demanded. Her father chuckled against her cheek and pulled her back so he could meet her eyes.
"I promise, princess. We'll all be careful and take care of each other. I ask that the three of you do the same. When you get low on food, call on Kreacher. He'll bring you whatever you need. Don't be afraid to ask for something if you need it," he told her. Hermione nodded and wiped at her cheeks. Hermione bent and hugged her sister briefly, smiling when she saw that she wasn't the only one crying.
Hermione gave brief hugs to Helena and Alexandre before moving to Aunt Cissy. Her aunt had tears in her eyes as she assured them that they would all be fine, that they needed to focus on keeping themselves safe. It was when Hermione turned to her uncle that the tears started again. She didn't even give her uncle a chance to open his arms, she rushed him and hugged him tightly as she cried into his robes.
"Sshh, poppet, no more tears. We'll meet again, of that I know for certain. There is nothing in this world that could keep me from being here to watch you and Draco grow and flourish. We will win this war and then we'll be free to live life as we wish. Keep your eyes on the prize and keep each other safe. Everyone in this room loves you and would be devastated if anything were to happen to you," he revealed. Hermione nodded against him and tried to commit his scent to memory.
"We love you all too," she said simply. She looked to see that Moody was the only one left she hadn't hugged. Master Auror Moody had practically moved in since learning the truth, citing that he needed to be near to keep them training, that it would save their lives. Hermione grew more fond of him every day, though the boys still thought she was insane. Moody wrapped her in his arms and he whispered gruffly in her ear.
"You know what you're doing, all three of you. I'd induct you as a full auror right now if it were up to me. You're the brains of the operation, don't let them go off half-cocked, especially that Prewett idiot. Keep Potter grounded, give him something to live for. He's going to have to face the Dark Twat and I doubt it will be an easy fight. Make sure you memorize my book, make them do the same. If you have a need for me, just call. I'll figure out a way to get to you," he promised her. Hermione nodded against him and rose to her tiptoes to press a kiss to his cheek.
"Thank you. For everything. You've helped us so much and we can never repay that. Make sure you live so you can be around to see my children. Maybe make you godfather...maybe give one of them your name or something," she said, trying to tease him and lighten the mood. He barked out a laugh and pushed her away goodnaturedly.
"Don't you dare, lassie. I'll never forgive ya," he told her.
With that, their goodbyes were said and there was nothing left to do but go to their birthday party and play their parts.
Hermione stepped into the floo with Harry, his arms around her waist holding her tightly. He pressed a soft kiss to the exposed skin of her shoulder as they whirled away in a flash of green flame. They stopped spinning and stepped out to see that they were in the exclusive club that Fred and George had told them about, The Wizards Place. Everything was set up for a party, just as her aunt had requested. Aunt Cissy had demanded that they have the club exclusively for the night so she was surprised to see that there were already so many people in attendance.
Hermione recognized many of the Gryffindors that Harry shared a dormitory with. Neville was already dancing with Luna while her father sat at a table studying a piece of parchment in front of him. Most of the Slytherins in her year and the year above her were in attendance, all dressed to impress. Hermione caught sight of Professor Cat and some of the Order members that she knew. Dory and Remus were at the bar, but were drinking only water. Both knew of what was to come and didn't want alcohol to cloud their minds. Aunt Andie and Uncle Ted were seated at a table nibbling on the snacks that had been provided.
As much as it pained her to say it, she didn't think she could spend the evening with her family. They had said their goodbyes and if she were to stick around them, there was a chance her emotionless mask would slip and she would show weakness. Draco disappeared to go find Daphne so Hermione turned to look at Harry.
"We need to go somewhere else. I can't spend this night with my family and guarantee I won't cry. Let's go," she told him. Harry pressed a kiss to her hair and nodded, leading her towards a group of students at the punch bowls. It was a mixed group, one that Hermione wasn't particularly thrilled at seeing. Sure, Katie Bell had been nicer to her at the end of the year but Hermione was still wary. Marietta Edgecomb was sending glares her way, most likely because of Cho's fate. Her godfather had confirmed that she had been marked and trained accordingly. What that meant, she didn't know, but she had a feeling she didn't want to. Cedric Diggory gave them a welcoming smile and she met it with one of her own. His feelings for her had clearly cooled since he had a pretty redhead on his arm, one that Hermione had never met before.
"Hermione, Harry, it's so nice of you to invite me. May I introduce Lyra Selwyn?" he asked. Hermione couldn't tell if he was trying to rub her in her face but she didn't let it bother her. She had truly liked Cedric and didn't wish him hardships. Hermione gave the redhead a genuine smile.
"It's very nice to meet you, I'm Hermione Black and this is Harry Potter," she told her. The girl's eyes widened and she shook Hermione's hand quickly.
"The pleasure is all mine, I assure you. I've heard you're extremely advanced in spell creation. I would love to get together with you and discuss it," Lyra gushed. Hermione gave a nod of assent.
"I would love that. There aren't many people that like spell creation. I hope to become a Spells Mistress someday," she revealed. She would have conversed further but Cedric started to pull his date away in the direction of Roger Davies, who was waving at them vigorously. Once they were alone, Hermione snorted indelicately.
"That wasn't awkward at all," she snarked. Harry laughed and handed her a cup of punch.
They mingled for almost an hour, catching sight of the Weasleys arriving en masse. Fred and George flocked over, both wrapping her in a hug that nearly split her ribs. They punched Harry in the arm and clapped him on the back, wishing him a happy birthday since it was actually his birthday. Before Harry could even ask, both redheads whisked her away onto the dance floor. They had her in the middle of the most ridiculous dance she could ever recall, she had thought they were going to break something with the moves they were doing. When they returned her to Harry, he scowled at them.
"I hadn't even danced with her, you gits," he scolded them. Fred just laughed again, turning to walk away. He called out over his shoulder.
"Next time you won't waste time asking a beautiful girl to dance," he chastised Harry. Harry just glared at their retreating backs and Hermione laughed. Harry scowled playfully at her.
"Well they didn't ask you either. They just dragged you out there," he grumped. Hermione laughed again and started to pull him towards the dance floor.
It was a waltz that came on as they stepped onto the dance floor and Harry pulled her into his arms. They danced flawlessly for several minutes, Hermione keeping her eyes on Draco and Ronald since they were going to have to all meet to take the portkey.
They shared several dances before Hermione was stolen away by Neville, who wore a grim look on his face. Neville wasn't sure what was going on but had been told that something was going to happen tonight. Uncle Sev had made sure to drop the bomb to the Dark Lord that Hermione would be out of blood wards that night and had sent word through patronus that plans to abduct her had already been made.
Hermione could see Harry speaking with Xeno Lovegood, Luna standing close. Harry looked very focused, very intense, and she wondered what they were talking about. Hermione glanced to Neville and gestured with her head to the small group of three.
"Any idea what they're talking about? I'm not speaking badly about Xeno, he's family of a sort, but he doesn't seem like the sort to have anything to say that would keep Harry interested in conversation," she told him. Neville shrugged his shoulders.
"I really can't say. He was looking over reports on his creatures earlier. Maybe one of them caught Harry's eye," he guessed. Nothing else was said before an enormous silvery lynx landed in the middle of the dance floor, only feet from where they were dancing.
"The Ministry has fallen. Scrimgeour is dead. They are coming. They are coming," Kingsley Shacklebolt's voice resonated throughout the entire room and Hermione felt the rush of adrenaline that she needed to get through the next part of the evening.
Hermione pushed away from Neville and started running for Harry, her dress held in her hands as she ran in her heels. She turned to see her father grab her sister and pop away. Uncle Luci was nowhere to be seen, neither was Aunt Cissy, so she assumed that they were already gone. The Weasleys were popping away as she glanced, Ginny being taken by her mother.
There were pops of apparition around them and she turned back to Neville, screaming at him to get out. Harry was rushing her way but the spellfire was still raining down on them. Hermione felt a cutting curse catch her leg, ripping through the fabric of her dress. She stumbled into Harry's arm, a shield coming around them immediately. Harry started returning fire, casting through her shield like they did every day in training. She could see Draco heading their direction but had no idea where Ronald was.
Draco had his wand out and was shooting spells at those that were attacking him. He crashed into Hermione because he lost his footing over what she thought might have been a trip jinx. He took all three of them to the ground, which gave Hermione a chance to pull their portkey from the bodice of her dress. Just as she was getting ready to activate it, Ronald careened through the crowd and ploughed into Hermione, knocking the breath from her as the portkey activated.
With a hooked feeling behind her navel, they were gone.
They landed outside a muggle coffee shop. Harry turned his nose up at the smell of the dark and dank alley. He could hear Ron complaining but he just shushed him as he hurried them into the shop. He knew that Ron wasn't the brightest star in the sky but he assumed that he knew enough to keep his mouth shut in front of muggles. However, this wasn't the case.
"Ronald, will you shut up? You're going to get us caught," Hermione berated him as they slid into their seats. Harry knew that none of them were too comfortable in the muggle world but at least knew that Hermione and Draco could keep their mouths shut. Ron grumbled under his breath but Harry really didn't pay much attention. He ordered them all a latte to keep appearances but he wasn't really interested. He turned to Hermione first.
"Are you alright? I know you got hit with a curse," he accused her. However, before she could answer him, Rowle and Jugson sauntered into the coffee shop. Harry didn't hesitate, just brought up his wand and started firing spells. The muggles inside all dove under their tables as the four of them faced off against the Death Eaters. After several minutes, they managed to subdue Rowle and Jugson, the muggles all shrieking in fear. Harry watched as Hermione instantly went to work, obliviating the muggles, erasing the memories of what they had seen. He chuckled under his breath when she worked her magic on the two Death Eaters, sending them back to their Lord with no idea where they had been, let alone why. With a stroke of luck, Voldemort would kill them for being inept.
Harry ushered the other three out of the coffee shop and back into the alley. He shot Hermione a look and she just gave him a firm nod. She reached out and grabbed Harry and Draco's hands, which meant that Harry needed to grab Ron's hand. With a quick twist on the spot, they disappeared. When Harry opened his eyes, he was standing in a lush forest but he had no idea where they were. He cast a questioning gaze at his girlfriend and she shrugged her shoulders.
"The woods behind the World Cup fourth year. Figured it was as good a spot as any," she confessed. Harry nodded gamely and watched as she shoved her hand into the purple bag she had pulled from the bodice of her dress. When she pulled out a tent, he grinned. She threw it to Draco and gestured to her cousin and Ron.
"It's easy enough to put up. I'm going to cast some wards around the camp so nobody can find us," she told them. Ron looked incredulous as he stared at the tent that Draco held in his hand.
"This is your great and wonderful plan? Live in a fucking tent? I thought we were going to be staying in hotels, having plenty of food. This is a shitty idea!" he yelled. Harry couldn't believe his friends outburst but didn't get a chance to say anything before Hermione spoke.
"You're an idiot then. We can't stay in hotels. In case you haven't noticed, Harry is Undesirable Number One. The Dark Lord just took over the Ministry. What do you think he'll do if he finds Harry? He sure isn't going to take him to lunch. We never could have stayed in hotels and if that's what you're wanting, you need to run on back home to mummy. We're on our own out here and we have to protect ourselves. The question is can you can handle it," she said calmly. Harry knew that Ron was going to lose his temper after that. However, he had to admit that Ron had been stupid for thinking such a thing.
"You're such a cunt! You just like being smarter than everyone else around you! We could have stayed in hotel rooms in the muggle world and nobody would have known the difference! You want us cut off from the world, probably so you can turn Harry dark just like you!" he screamed at her. Harry knew that Ron had crossed a line before he even looked at Hermione's face. He didn't even move fast enough to stop Hermione from lunging forward and hitting Ron in the face with a right cross. Ron fell to the ground, holding his nose, while blood trickled down into his mouth. Hermione was furious and Harry couldn't say that he blamed her.
"You ever call me that again, I'll make sure that you can't ever speak again. I can't deal with your ignorance. Either get a better attitude or fucking leave. Truthfully, I don't give a shite what you do. Just know that if you ever speak to me like that again, I'll make sure that you regret it for the rest of your life," Hermione swore. Harry watched as she stalked off, intent on setting up the wards that she had spoken of before the argument. Ron shot an angry glare his way.
"Are you just going to let her treat me like this?" he asked. Harry gave him an incredulous look.
"You called her a cunt and told her that she was turning me as dark as she was. What the fuck did you expect her to do? You're lucky she didn't just AK you on the spot," Harry told Ron. Ron turned an even more brilliant shade of maroon.
"Fine. Fuck this. I'm going home. I can't deal with her shite," Ron swore. Harry shrugged his shoulders, silently pleased.
"Good. Hermione isn't going anywhere. If you can't deal with her, leaving is probably your best option," Harry told him.
With a loud pop, Ron apparated away.
"That escalated so quickly. She just wanted the tent put up," Draco said. Harry gave a little chuckle under his breath.
"It did. Oh well, I guess. The food will last longer now. Look at the bright side," he told Draco. Draco let out a bark of laughter and started to put the tent up.
Harry watched from a distance as Hermione put the wards up around their campsite. He knew she was upset but didn't want to bother her while she worked. Once she started for the tent, Harry pulled her into his embrace. He kissed the side of her head and felt her melt into him.
"Ron left. You know that I would never choose him over you, right?" he asked her. Hermione nodded against his chest.
"Yes, I know. I was just so mad. I wanted to curse the shite out of him but didn't want to hurt him permanently because he's your friend," she confessed. Harry chuckled as he nuzzled her neck.
"Don't worry about him being my friend. You do what you have to. Do you think they all got out?" he asked her. She clutched him just a little tighter.
"I have to hope so. I saw some of them disappear but I don't know about some. I didn't see Uncle Luci and Aunt Cissy. I have to hope that they got out first," she confessed. Harry carded his hand through her loose curls and kissed the top of her head.
"I know they got out. Uncle Lucius is the consummate Slytherin. Self-preservation and all that. Rest assured, the family got out," Harry swore. Hermione nodded into his chest. He held her for a few minutes before he pulled away.
"Come on, let's get you inside. You have an injury on your leg that needs attention. We'll find something for dinner and we'll go to bed. We all need to sleep something awful. The pressure has been wearing on us all," Harry told her. Hermione nodded and let him take her hand.
He pulled her towards the tent, set up now thanks to Draco, and allowed him to nudge her inside. All he could think was that this was going to be a long war. He just hoped that they made it through and survived.
A/N- There you are, folks, another chapter down. Thanks for reading and reviewing, it means so much to me! I hope that you enjoyed it! Let me know what you thought of the beginning of Part Three :)
Next chapter, our Trio calls on Kreacher for information.