Hello again, alligators! I know it's been a while, so I'd like to clarify for everyone where we currently are! Ginny and Luna are in their last year of school, Harry and Ron are eighteen and Hermione is nineteen. I had to move some things around for the plot, but those are the main changes. Hope ya like it!

The buzz was ridiculous. For the past week, all anyone in the Manor had been talking about was getting chosen to storm the castle for the distraction so no one noticed Draco Malfoy kill Albus Dumbledore. Most of the Death Eaters bemoaned their chances, while others simply kept quiet, hoping this would make them seem more mature and suitable for the position. Hermione had no thoughts on the battle, however, as she was more focused on making certain the manor was acceptable for a sudden influx of Death Eaters.

The new Death Eaters were not nearly as trained as the inner circle and other forces that had been at the manor recently and it peeved Hermione to no end. The Death Eaters that had been in the building a while could clearly see the young witch's irritation with the new flow and they laughed to themselves, knowing that she was going to set the new lot straight as she had done with them. And she certainly had. Quite a few times, a Death Eater seasoned to Hermione's presence had to step in to stop her from flat out killing one of the newer residents because they had attempted 'courting her without Mistress Bellatrix's permission'.

One afternoon, while she was helping a few house elves serve a large group, one of the Death Eaters called, "What do you expect, girlie? How can we keep our hands off a fine bird like you when you walk around practically naked?"

Hermione had drawn herself up to her full height in that moment and stated, "That is Muggle logic. Muggles are practically akin to animals with the way they think and act. I thought wizards were better than Muggles with how they conducted themselves and controlled their desires. Surely you aren't as weak-minded and disgraceful as that filth?"

The entire room had grown quiet at that, pondering the words she had said while Patch spoke to Hermione about a problem in the kitchens. Handing her platter off to a nearby elf, Hermione spun on the spot and apparated to the kitchens, leaving the group to think as she fixed the problem. Afterwards, she found that a number of the men continued to ogle her, but none dared touch her after that. When her mistress asked her how she had done it after their passionate session one night, Hermione explained and the Dark Witch immediately erupted into hysterical laughter.

But now, the day had arrived for the group that would be infiltrating Hogwarts and the excitement in the air was making the entire manor tingle. Hermione had to break up several fights between the newer residents as they argued over who would be going and staying. Occasionally, she would need to completely incapacitate them and would look to one of the older residents for confirmation that it had been the right thing to do.

A slight headache was beginning to form as it was barely eleven and she had already broken up no less than fourteen arguments. The magic around her was beginning to swirl and warp with irritation, objects lifting slightly from their place as she passed before settling back when she was gone. By noon, it had gotten to the point that the slight crackling of her aura had actually given a few people minor injuries.

A few times, her aura would crackle with lightning and the older forces were keen on keeping out of the young witch's path. They had seen what she was capable of and knew that, with her heightened bad mood, she would be out for blood soon enough. Unfortunately, a few of the newer recruits had not understood quite what the lightning meant. When it struck one of them while he was talking with his comrades, he attempted to teach the girl a lesson. His hex had dissipated in the air a few inches from Hermione and she had rounded on him with pitch black eyes, daring him to try again. The group had immediately scattered, not wanting to see what the young woman would do if they were to hex her once more. At last, Bellatrix called her to her room.

"Yes, Mistress?" the little slave asked softly, completely docile. Bellatrix was shocked as the girl's aura was completely calm, not a hint of a spark in sight. Yet, she had observed the girl all morning and noticed the irritable magic growing.

"Mudpet, stay in the room for the rest of the day until I come to retrieve you, is that clear?"

Hermione's neck twitched as if she wanted to raise her head and protest, but the sudden stiffness in her shoulders was gone as she nodded. "Yes, Mistress Bellatrix," she sighed, taking a mental note of where the fights seemed to break out most and simply resolving to help the elves clean the entire house over again.

"Good girl." Bellatrix knelt and used a single finger to lift her pet's chin. A wicked smirk curled the Dark Witch's lips. "If you're a good little muddy for the rest of the day, you'll get a special treat once I get back from tonight's mission."

Watching the brown eyes brighten excitedly, Bellatrix cackled and strolled from the room, deciding to spend some time in the library, the only place most of the new Death Eaters hadn't touched. Usually, Bellatrix would prefer the garden to the library, but the library was her second-favorite spot anyway. So many tomes and journals to read. It almost reminded her of the late night studies at Hogwarts.

Time passed as Bellatrix flipped her way through pages in the library's solace. Her mind remained enraptured by the tales she read, keeping her from becoming restless and doing something far worse to the recruits than her pet would've. Most would assume she liked reading the books full of dark magic, and they would be correct. However, her favorites were the ones she and her sisters used to read as children, before the three of them went their separate paths. With these, she could get lost in the story, like when she was younger, and time passed more easily.

At last, it was time to head out. Dark Marks flared to life all over the manor. Those being summoned were cheered on by their friends, receiving claps on the back as they made their way to the drawing room. Bellatrix strode through the halls calmly, her Mudblood walking dutifully beside her. The newer recruits watched them warily, knowing neither witch was to be trifled with. Any well wishes in their direction would either be met with silence or a hex, depending on either's mood.

Bellatrix stepped into the drawing room and Mulciber grinned at her. "Glad to know we've got our ace comin' along," he laughed.

"Naturally," Bellatrix snickered. "It's not a party without me, now is it?"

"Right ya are," Antonin agreed. "Gonna be a real treat, wreakin' some havoc on the school."

"Please remember that we're here on a mission," Lucius sighed with a mocking roll of his eyes. "Don't mess the school up too much. We're just the distraction."

Both Bellatrix and Antonin stuck their tongues out at him. They all straightened when their leader stood. Red eyes surveyed the room and Voldemort nodded. "Good. It looks like we're all here. Those of you who are new, follow McNair. He'll get you cloaks. This will be the chance for you to earn your masks."

The new recruits all buzzed excitedly and gathered around Walden, who was summoning cloaks for them all. Bellatrix turned to her Mudblood. "Stay here," she ordered. "I expect my room to be prepared for my return. If it's anything short of spotless, I won't hesitate to flay you. Clear?"

"Yes, Mistress," Hermione responded. She wasn't interested in being tortured again. She'd been doing such a good job recently that she rarely got punished. However, she had no doubts that, with how important tonight was, even one mistake would enrage her volatile mistress.

"Actually," Voldemort interrupted them, eyes on the Mudblood. "Take the Mudblood with you, Bellatrix. Let's test her resolve."

"Her resolve, My Lord?" Bellatrix asked in confusion.

"She has stated that she wishes revenge on those who have betrayed her. Well, Mudblood. You're the one who's going to kill Albus Dumbledore." Gasps lit the air as all eyes zeroed in on the young woman at Bellatrix's side. "It's either you or it's Draco. Whichever of you kills him, it doesn't matter, but it has to be one of you. If you all return and Dumbledore isn't dead, I will take both their heads. Understood?"

"Yes, My Lord!" everyone chorused, many of them still shooting curious glances to the Mudblood.

Bellatrix tapped her chin for a moment. "Well, I suppose that makes you a new recruit," she shrugged. "Go getcha cloak."

Personally, Hermione preferred not to have a cloak on, but she knew it was important for the Death Eaters to hide their faces. If people knew it was her causing the commotion, the Order might try getting her back. Well, assuming those two morons actually told them what had happened. Hermione snorted at the concept as she accepted her cloak.

She returned to her mistress' side and clasped the hood around her neck, lifting it to test visibility. If they hadn't told the Order what had happened, it made no difference. Before this war was done, she'd have all of their heads. Everyone who was involved in the scheme will have died by her hand. Her eyes flashed black for a moment. She would have her revenge.

"Alright, you lot," Selwyn called. "Time for us to head out. Draco should be gettin' our way in as we speak. Let's move."

They all made their way toward the gates, receiving congratulations and well wishes. Many of their comrades watched them all the way until they exited the manor gates. This would be one of the biggest nights of the war.

"Mudblood," Bellatrix stated calmly.

The girl grabbed onto her arm and the Dark Witch twisted as soon as they stepped from the gates. They had done this enough times that Bellatrix knew the filthy witch was used to apparating alongside her. However, the girl usually had less clothing on. When they landed, Mudblood stumbled slightly from the weight of her new cloak and she glared down at it.

Bellatrix merely laughed and waited for the girl to orient herself. Once the younger witch had finished tearing pieces of her cloak away, she glanced up. They'd landed in Diagon Alley. Why? Weren't they supposed to be going to Hogwarts? Why wouldn't they land in Hogsmeade Village?

"Come along, Mudblood," her mistress ordered. Hermione nodded and followed her. They accompanied the others into a side alley also lined with shops. As soon as the Mudblood stepped through, several lights flooded the area and the group turned to her in confusion.

"Never knew this place had a Mudblood detection spell," Mulciber muttered, waving his wand. "That's pretty nifty, but kinda conspicuous if ya ask me."

"Agreed," Lucius murmured. "We'll have to talk to someone about that."

They all piled into the shop and Hermione stayed close to Mistress' side. She couldn't recall ever seeing this place before, so perhaps it wasn't even somewhere she ventured while still in school. A flash of a memory came to her, though. Halfblood was saying something about a… Knockturn Alley? Considering they'd landed in Diagon Alley, it would make sense if this was the place Halfblood spoke about. She'd have to tread lightly. The people in this area didn't like Mudbloods much.

"Alright, you lot," Selwyn called. "The gateway's open. Time to go through."

All of the newer recruits hung back, glancing amongst themselves nervously. Hermione crept closer and found a cabinet in front of them all. Her eyes took in the wear and she wondered… could it be…?

"A vanishing cabinet?" she whispered curiously, moving closer. She placed her hand inside and felt something warm. Definitely a vanishing cabinet.

"Looks like the Mudblood's got more balls'n the rest o' ya!" Walden snickered, lifting the young witch into the cabinet.

Hermione blinked at him as the door shut. A split second later, she stepped from the cabinet into a completely new place. It was a vanishing cabinet! How amazing. She would have to study it if ever she got the chance to return. For now, she waited patiently for the others to come through. One by one, all of the new recruits and veteran Death Eaters came through.

Bellatrix snatched her Mudpet by the hair and dragged her partially away. "Muddy, what have I told you about showing up the purebloods?"

"I apologize for my insolence, Mistress," Hermione whimpered. She hadn't meant to. She'd been curious about the cabinet, and it wasn't like any of the new people were going to go first. They would've been there all day waiting for one of them to grow a pair.

"These morons don't know the first thing about magic; they just eat whatever info's fed to them, including that Mudbloods are spineless weasels." Bellatrix snarled. The girl cowered before her and the Dark Witch huffed, "Do well tonight and I might consider forgiving you. Disappoint me, and you may not have working legs in the morning."

Hermione shuddered as she was released. She needed to make sure she did a damn good job. I apologize, Mister Draco, she thought. I'm going to have to get to Dumbledore first. Not that I was going to let you do it in the first place, but my legs are now on the line. She hated making her mistress angry.

As they all milled about, Hermione spotted some books lying among the piles of junk and she cocked her head. "Mistress," she asked. "Will the library go unharmed?"

Bellatrix shrugged. "There's no reason for the battle to go through the library." She paused and thought a moment. "Though, if there are any books that you wish to have, you may want to grab them before we leave. I don't know if you'll get the chance again."

"Thank you, Mistress." Hermione grinned. Bellatrix sniffed and they all turned to where the door had opened. Draco stood in the doorway, holding some kind of hand. He paused when he spotted the figure beside Bellatrix and his eyes flicked to his aunt. She nodded and he blinked in shock. The Mudblood had been allowed to come on such an important mission? Shaking his head, Draco waved for them all to follow him and led them through the halls of the castle. He threw out some of the Darkness Powder he'd bought for the occasion just in case, allowing them all to pass safely through.

Hermione felt anticipation flowing through her body and she fought not to let off a jet of light to quell her excitement. She wasn't the only one, either. The other recruits were also shifting and itching to get the battle started. This was one of the biggest nights of the war, after all.

"We're nearing the Great Hall," Draco called quietly to them all. "Prepare yourselves."

"Intruders!" a voice shouted. Hermione recognized the voice as belonging to Filtch, the castle caretaker. "There are intruders in the castle!"

"Welp," Bellatrix laughed. "Guess our cover's blown. Let's go, you lot!"

Spells shot from all directions, professors on patrol coming at the sound of Filtch's call. The Death Eaters responded in kind and the two groups locked into battle. Footsteps could be heard from above, signaling more people headed their way.

The battle had begun.

Harry stirred his soup around as he listened to Fred and George play Exploding Snap. Ginny sat in the living area, watching the fire impassively as Ron read through one of his Quidditch guides. Order members sat around the place, many of them wondering if the intel they'd received was correct.

Tonks glanced to her mother, who was staying behind to watch over anyone who couldn't go. Even though Harry, Ron, and the Twins were all of age, it had been agreed upon that they weren't going to go on this battle. The intel said there weren't going to be that many Death Eaters, so there was no need for the four to risk their lives. Harry and the Twins were, understandably, incensed. Harry, because he wanted to be able to fight, and the Twins because they wanted revenge for what has happened since this second war began.

Personally, Tonks wasn't sure if revenge was necessary. Winning the war would feel like revenge enough for her. At the very least, seeing all of those vile people in prison would be enough retribution for what happened to Hermione and all of the others lost. Unfortunately, everyone else didn't share the same sentiment.

"When can we go, already?" Hestia groaned, tossing a ball at the wall. "I need to give Dolohov a good sock for what he did to Emmy."

"I've got a few words to say to him, myself," Emmaline grumbled. "Him, and McNair."

"You two should calm down," Dedulus told them. "Rage will only cloud the way you fight."

Hestia laughed. "What? Like you aren't itching to jab your wand in Selwyn's eye for what he did to your house."

Tonks inwardly groaned as others joined in, talking about all of the things they wanted to get back at the Death Eaters for. She didn't really care about getting revenge so much as she just wanted the war to finally end. One look to her mother showed her mood reflected back at her.

Andromeda would rather have been doing anything else than listening to the other Order members scheme about what they'd do to the Death Eaters once they got to the battle. There wasn't even a guarantee most of these people would even be there, but everyone still wanted to fantasize about cursing this person or hexing that person. Maybe it was good for morale, but she was more worried about the effect it was going to have on the children.

Her eyes wandered over to where the Twins were starting a new game of Exploding Snap. Both of them looked utterly bored out of their minds, something practically unheard of for Fred and George. Not to mention the depression little Ginevra had been in since Hermione's death. The three of them weren't the only ones displaying melancholy, either. Luna looked downcast whenever she came over, Fleur and Bill grew more distant with the Order meetings, and her Nymph wasn't even pulling as many pranks as she usually did.

I suppose having someone so close to them all killed off like that hurt more than we could've thought. Andromeda looked to Harry. However, it is interesting that neither Ronald nor Harry are displaying the same level of devastation. Hermione was their best friend, but neither of them had so much as mentioned her since their return. Call it Black intuition, but Andromeda wondered if there wasn't something else at work. The air tonight felt different, more charged, and not just because a battle was coming. Something big was going to happen.

Suddenly, the fire lit and a head appeared. It was Professor Flitwick. "They're here!" he cried. "They're in the castle!"

Everyone jumped up. It was time.

And the battle is on! Let's see who's gonna survive? Will Hermione actually kill Dumbeldore or will Draco beat her to it? Hell if I know, but I'll figure it out by next week! See ya then, alligators!

Remember, sneak peeks and updates are available on my tumblr, gothalbinoangel-fanfiction. Where you can also ask questions. And I just opened up commissions, too! Now, on to the next chapter!