A/N- So there's really no excuse for my lack of updates besides getting involved in another fic and real life is hectic. Here is my offering to appease ya'll. Hope you like it! Any suggestions are welcome!
June 12, 1997
"Have you ever heard of the muggle military units known as the 'special forces'?" Hermione asked the motley crew assembled before her in the Room of Requirement. Her brother sat next to her with Harry on her other side. Draco was lounging comfortably on particularly squashy forest green armchair and the Weasley siblings were on a loveseat opposite the twins and Harry.
Her question caught blank looks from everyone except Harry, which didn't surprise Hermione a bit.
"Hmmm. Perhaps compare them to Aurors, except they are trained meticulously to not only catch the bad guys, but to infiltrate, strategize and survive anything and everything. They are the best of the best and are a small and usually covert group of individuals that are known for their skills and getting the job done." Hermione tried to explain to the group. Recognition and understanding began to show on the faces of her friends and allies (Malfoy).
"Okay? What is your point?" Ron questioned, his brow crinkled in confusion. Hermione smirked as she noticed Harry's eyes go wide and a small grin began to form.
"You want us to make our own Special Forces. A magical one." Harry breathed out in awe. Hermione nodded enthusiastically.
"Think about it. Harry, Blaise and I have to defeat the Dark Lord somehow. In order to do that we will need to better than the Death Eaters in not only magic, but in tactics, fighting skill, survival situations and contingency plans. The aurors and the Order all work very hard, but they are busy with everything else as well as the war. We already have experience and the intelligence to be better. All we need to do is train and plan. In the end its going to be up to Harry, but we need to be the best and help him all the way until the end." Hermione passionately explained.
Silence followed her reasoning and Hermione fidgeted slightly while waiting for the group to think on her words. She heard Blaise's mental voice whisper in her mind as he thought to himself but she ignored it, allowing him privacy. From the corner of her eye she saw Draco nodding his head, deep in thought with his eyes trained to the floor.
"I think it's brilliant. Exactly what we need to keep Boy Wonder and the Twins ahead of the Death Eater's game." Draco agreed, and she saw Blaise nod his head in concurrence. His voice was deep and calm, so sure of his words that it sent an involuntary shiver down Hermione's spine. Hermione grinned up at her brother and then at her new ally before turning her eyes to the rest of group waiting for their reactions.
Ron had his eyes narrowed at Draco in suspicion and Hermione braced herself for Ron's inevitable harsh words.
"Really, now? Says the Death Eater himself! You would know all about the game the Death Eater's are playing wouldn't you?" He spat at Draco, with occasional glances at Blaise. Hermione felt Blaise bristle at the words aimed at his best friend. He opened his mouth to defend Draco but was cut off by movement from Draco.
The room stilled as Draco slowly lifted up his left arm sleeve. The smooth expanse of pale, unblemished skin spoke for itself. Ginny, Harry and Ron looked surprised but Hermione had a feeling he wasn't a Death Eater from the moment she overheard him in the Owlery.
Ron schooled his expression and scoffed. "I'm sure you are quite able to hide your true colors. That doesn't mean anything." Draco remained quiet but his anger was palpable, while Blaise looked ready to throttle Ron.
"Enough, Ronald Bilius Weasley! You will not say another word about Draco being a Death Eater, as he is clearly not one! You can't disillusion or hide a Dark Mark, its physically and magically impossible! If he were a Death Eater we would have seen a mark, so let it go! You don't have to like him, but you will not falsely accuse him or my brother, just because they are Slytherins or have Dark roots!" Hermione spoke in such a cold, menacing tone that it surprised everyone in the room. Magic crackled in the air around her and Blaise and Harry were forced to move away from her after they began to feel small electric shocks from the air surrounding her.
Ron looked uncomfortable and slightly frightened of his best friend and was shocked into silence until his sister elbowed him in the ribs and hissed at him to apologize quickly.
"Sorry, 'Mione, It won't bring it up again." He noted the air was still charged around Hermione and quickly stuttered and apology to Malfoy. "Sorry about that Malfoy."
Draco nodded his head curtly in acknowledgement, and Hermione finally relaxed. The room was silent for a moment before Harry broke the uncomfortable tension by further explaining what military Special Forces did.
Defending Draco's honor, sister dear? Blaise teased in Hermione's mind proudly. He appreciated Hermione's words and acceptance of his best friend. He heard her mental scoff.
As if, Bazzie. I was just putting the issue to rest once and for all. If we're going to work together we need to trust each other and not argue like five year olds! Hermione sniffed primly in response. The truth was, she didn't know why she had reacted so strongly. Of course, Blaise picked up on this immediately.
Puh-lease! You don't even buy that rubbish! Whatever, but if you start to fancy my best mate we are going to have words! Bazzie? Blaise questioned, confused at the nickname.
I most certainly do not fancy Draco Malfoy! I hardly know him, and apart from being your best friend and semi-nice to me the last few days he has insulted me nearly every chance he has gotten for years! Bazzie is sort of your initials, B.A.Z. but, um, ya. I'm not good at this nickname thing. Hermione could feel Blaise's mirth at her attempts at a nickname so she elbowed him to get him to stop laughing so loud in her head.
Me thinks that thou protests too much, darling. Too much indeed. And your nickname isn't too horrible I suppose. He added trying to make her feel better. Hermione smiled at her brothers attempts at making her feel better, but was annoyed at his questions about Draco. She heard Blaise ask Harry to explain something about the muggle military to him and Hermione took the opportunity to evaluate her thoughts and feelings regarding Draco, banking on Blaise's distraction to not hear her thoughts.
Draco had changed. Plain and Simple. He hadn't insulted or said a cross word to her all year and while it was a relief, she didn't understand the change. She had attributed it earlier to Draco simply maturing but now in light of the absence of a Dark Mark Hermione knew it went deeper than that. Draco intrigued Hermione, he was mysterious and intelligent. He was handsome as hell as well although admitting that aloud was would take effort and Veritaserum. Hermione made a snap decision to go to extra lengths to get to know and befriend Draco. The summer holidays and the training she wanted to commence with her friends was the perfect opportunity to do so. With a quick nod to herself, she tuned back into the conversation her friends were having and missed the small smirk that Blaise had on his face in response to his sister's thoughts.
The group of young people were all thinking of ways to train, plan and become better 'soldiers' when a crack rang out in the room. The startled teenagers looked around for the source of the disturbance and spotted Dobby, the strange but loyal house elf. Dobby bowed and grinned at the group, his big tennis ball eyes glowing with pride.
"Harry Potter and his friends, it's a pleasure to see you! Headmaster Dumbledore picked Dobby to summon you all to his office as soon as possible. He is wanting to speak with you all." Dobby squeaky voice trembled with the pride of being selected by the Headmaster.
"Thank you, Dobby" Harry and Hermione said in unison, smiling down at their friend. Dobby bowed a final time before disapperating with a crack. The group stood and left the room and headed straight to Dumbledore's office. When they were comfortably sitting around his desk, much like they had the previous day, Dumbledore spoke.
"Lemon Drop, anyone?" He asked kindly. The group shook their heads and waited to hear the reason they had been called.
"I have recently been able to solidify my theories on how Lord Voldemort was able to survive despite a rebounding killing curse. Have any of you ever come the term 'Horcrux'?" Dumbledore asked gently. Recognition lit in Hermione, Blaise and Draco's eyes immediately while the other three looked confused.
"May I inquire where you heard the term?" Dumbledore asked the three who had an inkling what it meant.
"My father." Draco replied simply. Blaise stated the same while Hermione mentioned a book.
Dumbledore stroked his beard for a moment before looking at the Weasley's and Harry.
"I have decided to tell you all because Harry and the Twins need to know this information if they want to stand a chance of defeating Voldemort and we all know they would inevitably share the information with the rest of you, so in favor of saving time, you all will listen and save your questions until I am finished explaining." He waited for the students to nod their acceptance before continuing.
"A horcrux is an object that is able to conceal a piece of a person's soul. It takes an immensely powerful wizard to perform the rites necessary to create a horcrux and an immensely evil wizard to do the damage necessary to split his soul in order to create one. A person can only split his soul by committing a crime so heinous against all common morality that the soul in effect rebels, and splits from itself. That crime is cold-blooded remorseless murder." He paused, allowing his words to sink in.
"I have played witness to the guilty conscience of a former professor who may have aided in perpetuating the idea of splitting ones soul in order to achieve immortality to a young Tom Riddle, known to all as Lord Voldemort. I have had theories about Tom's actions for years now, assuming that he had indeed created a horcrux and that has been confirmed by the memory that was shown to me. What I was grimly surprised to discover was that Tom in all likelihood created seven horcruxes to guard his severed soul."
There was a gasp as the students widened their eyes in horror and understanding. Tom Riddle had killed in cold blood at least seven times, which was not surprising for the most evil wizard in recent history, but to actually have know that his soul was tattered and split and hidden in objects to preserve his own evil life was disturbing.
"You will all be pleased to know that two horcruxes have already been destroyed. This leaves five more that we need to acquire and destroy." He motioned for questions.
"Sir you said two have been destroyed?" Harry asked hesitantly. Dumbledore smiled at Ginny before turning his twinkling eyes to the Twins.
"Yes, Harry. You actually destroyed the first one: Tom Riddle's diary." Harry was surprised but pleased. Ginny paled and reached for Harry's hand and took hold.
"The other Horcrux was destroyed by myself after the dear Twins warned me to do so immediately. The ring that I split in half was, in fact, a piece of Voldemort's soul trapped in a ring that belonged to Tom's maternal grandfather."
"That still leaves five. Do you know what they are?" Hermione asked. Dumbledore looked grim.
"I do not know for certain where the objects are, but I have theories on what the objects are." He explained. He stood gracefully and walked over to a small cabinet on the wall behind his desk. He retrieved a shallow stone basin, with what appeared be silvery liquid inside. The students recognized it to be a pensieve. He set it on his desk pressed his wand to his temple, a silver strand followed his wand as he brought it away from his head. He placed the strand in the bowl and waved his wand over the pensieve and Dumbledore's memories began to project.
"Before we begin, I must stress the importance of knowing your enemy for a successful defeat." Dumbledore said ominously.
The students watched memory after memory play out before their eyes. Tom Riddle in the orphanage, his souvenirs of childhood torture being discovered by Dumbledore. Dumbledore's conversation with the woman who ran the orphanage. Tom in Hogwarts, his charisma oozed and attracted power hungry followers. Tom working in Borgin and Burkes, talking to a woman who owned Helga Hupplepuff's cup. Memories that Dumbledore acquired from others and his own meshed to show the students important information on Lord Voldemort.
When the last of the memories played silence reigned in the room.
"Can any of you draw conclusions from what I have just imparted on you?" Dumbledore asked the group. His eyes regained that glimmer and his smile was less grim, as if he had hope in the group of students that sat before him.
"He likes to collect trophies from his cruel deeds." Ron noted.
Ginny nodded and added, "He seemed to have an obsession with the Founders of Hogwarts. I guess it's because he was a descendant of Salazar Slytherin?"
Dumbledore nodded with a smile, encouraging her answer. Harry looked pensive and unsure, but suddenly burst in, "Did he track down objects that belonged to Ravenclaw and Gryffindor to use as horcruxes along with the Hufflepuff cup?"
"I doubt it. Slytherins don't put much stock in anything to do with Gryffindor." Draco pointed out. Dumbledore chuckled quietly.
"I have to agree with 's assessment. I do not believe that Tom used any artifacts related to Gryffindor, but I do believe that an object related to dear Rowena Ravenclaw has been used."
"So there is Hufflepuff's cup, something that belongs to Ravenclaw, and perhaps something from Salazar Slytherin? Or is the ring from Slytherin?" Ron asked. Blaise shook his head and mulled something over before speaking.
"The ring is a symbol of his maternal Pureblood side. He's a half-blood that hates his muggle father for abandoning him and his mother and for 'dirtying' his own almost royal bloodline. The ring was not the Slytherin artifact." Blaise theorized.
"Did anyone notice the necklace that His mother was wearing in the memory of the ministry official? It seemed very expensive and antique in comparison to the rest of the shack the Gaunt's were living in at the time. It also had an 'S'etched on the front. Gaunt said it was an heirloom handed down from Slytherin himself. The locket must be the Slytherin Horcrux." Hermione ventured. Dumbledore nodded and smiled proudly at all of his students conclusions.
"That still leaves two horcruxes." Ginny noted aloud. The pensive silence in the room was finally broken when Dumbledore spoke up.
"In an unrelated, or perhaps perfectly related, topic of discussion I'd like to offer my services to the noble endeavor you have all deemed necessary to shoulder. Whatever I can do to assist or guide you, I will gladly do. You are placing yourselves in grave danger and I suggest accepting my offer, and perhaps utilizing other 'tools' in an effort to maximize your effectiveness, hmm?" Dumbledore's eyes were alight with mirth and pride.
The students mouths were agape at his offer.
"How do you do that?" Ron questioned in shock. Dumbledore chuckled and his lips twitched into something that suspiciously looked like a smirk.
"Ah, young , I presumed you would know by now. There is nary an event or situation that transpires in this castle that I do not know about."
"Well…-er- I-" Ron spluttered. Blaise decided to take pity on the poor redhead, who was turning a rather unattractive shade of puce.
"We thank you, Headmaster. We have yet to fully finalize our plans, but you will be one of the first to know what we decide. Hermione is going to be staying at Zabini manor this summer, in an effort to assimilate into our family, and Draco will also be staying. I wanted to invite the Weasley's and Potter to train and strategize over the summer. I have a feeling that Hermione will be very demanding on practicing and researching so I'm sure if you were to drop by the manor you could find us all and we could discuss this further." Blaise's words reflected his refined upbringing and he practically oozed charm and power.
Dumbledore nodded in agreement. They were dismissed shortly after Blaise's words, Dumbledore smiled graciously at each of them. After promising to brainstorm and make a list of things they thought would be beneficial for their new group they split up to get some much needed rest.
June 13, 1997
"We will need to keep a store of various potions that will be beneficial. We'll need Veritaserum, Polyjuice, Pepper-up, Poison antidotes, Healing potions and perhaps the Draught of the Living Death. Of course we'll make more, especially healing potions and Polyjuice, but we should all at least have a vial of each on us at all times." Draco voiced his idea for their group.
"Draught of the Living Death?" Harry questioned. He had been impressed with Draco's idea and willingness to help, but that potion didn't make sense to Harry. When they had made it for Snape earlier in the year it was implied that it was a rarely used potion.
"Brilliant!" A slow smile crept up on Hermione's face. "That would be perfect if we ever were backed into a corner and needed to 'play dead'!" The potion could mimic the state of death, which would be advantageous if the they were ever caught by Death Eaters.
"I think we should all learn basic healing spells. We should know how to mend a broken bone and seal up lacerations at least. A few of us could learn more advanced stuff in case one of us is seriously injured but we should all know the bare essentials at least." Ginny continued, she had a personal fondness for healing and wanted to be a healer if she didn't get picked up to play professional Quidditch.
"Excellent idea." Blaise grinned roguishly at the redhead. Ginny smirked in his direction before snuggling deeper into Harry's embrace on the loveseat they shared in the Room of Requirement. Blaise was a known flirt and she knew not to take his charming smile and wink seriously.
"Obviously we'll need to practice dueling in pairs, as well as one against several others." Harry interjected, Dueling was his strength and something he knew would be essential.
"We'll need to come up with strategies for battle as well as what to do when cornered." Ron piped up. While Ron could not be said to be overly intelligent he was a brilliant strategist, proof in his title of reigning Wizards chess champion in Gryffindor Tower. When focused, Ron could work out a strategy quicker and more effectively than anyone their age.
"I think we should also learn physical self-defense." Blaise suggested quietly. Ron looked confused.
"But we have magic!"
"I think he has the right idea. Think about it, what if someone disarms us and we have no choice but to attack physically? Or what if a wandless wizard uses brute strength to fight us? Or what about the likes of Greyback and his pack? They don't use wands at all, they just attack!" Hermione defended her brother's suggestion.
"Okay, okay. Good point." Ron mumbled. The others snickered.
"So we have potion making, practicing healing, strategy, physical defense, and dueling for starters." Hermione listed aloud.
"Blimey, this is going to be a long summer." Ron succinctly stated with a dramatic shake of his head.
A/N- Review Ya'll :) Pretty please!