A/N – Here it is, year 5 of Children of the Dark. This year is when things start to change dramatically. There's a few bits similar to the books, but from now this story is heading off into totally new territory.
With the break I took over Christmas, and the fact I'm still writing other things at the same time, year 5 is still not finished, therefore I can't say how many chapters it's going to be. Because it's not finished, and because I don't want to have to wait several months' in-between future years, this year will only be published twice a week – on Monday and Thursday.
In the conservatory of Malfoy Manor, Voldemort was holding a conference with his family and most trusted friends, the Malfoys. Now the Dark Lord was back, and had spent the previous year building up his forces again, it was time to discuss his rise to power. Over the last year a few things had been discussed, but it was time to make some final decisions.
"We'll start with Dumbledore," Voldemort announced. "You already know how I want to deal with him."
"All we have to do is find a way to get you and a selection of your Death Eaters into school," Severus Snape, Voldemort's son, said. "Do you have any idea how you're going to do that?"
"For that, I think we're going to need some help," Voldemort replied, his gaze switching to the window where he could see his daughter, his grandson and Draco Malfoy sitting outside enjoying the sunshine. "I have an idea, but I'm going to need Harry, Hermione and Draco to help me out."
"I'm sure they'll be thrilled to help," Beth, his wife, remarked with a chuckle. The three teenagers had wanted to be part of the conversation currently going on, but it had been decided they would be brought up to date once more decisions were made.
"I'm sure they will," Voldemort agreed. "However, we will need a back-up plan in case they fail. I want Dumbledore gone this year. The old man has more than outstayed his welcome. With him gone, there'll be no opposition to my plans to take over."
"What about the Ministry and Fudge?" Narcissa Malfoy asked.
"Lucius?" Voldemort turned to one of his most loyal Death Eaters.
"Fudge may be disillusioned with Dumbledore at the moment, but he won't back you over him," Lucius Malfoy replied. "As long as he's in power, we're going to have problems."
"Then he's coming out of power," Voldemort announced with determination. "We'll replace him with one of our men. Who would you recommend Lucius?"
"You want someone loyal to you, as well as someone who's already got leverage within the Ministry," Lucius mused. "We also want someone you can be sure will do what you want. You don't want to back someone for Minister and then have them turning rogue. I think I know the perfect man, and I think I know how to persuade him to throw his hat into the fray."
"Do tell Lucius," Voldemort urged. "Who do you have in mind?"
"Bernard Nott," Lucius replied. "He's already a Death Eater, not to mention a senior official in the Ministry. I've known him a long time, and his loyalty is with us."
"And how are you going to persuade him to run for Minister?" Voldemort asked.
"We'll start with this hearing of Dumbledore's," Lucius began. Given events of the previous year, he'd managed to convince Fudge to seriously look at Dumbledore's post of Headmaster, however with what Voldemort had planned, he wasn't going to push for the old man to be sacked. "We all know, he's not going to get the sack, but I can tell him that's what I was pushing for. Together we can gather a group of disgruntled parents, unhappy with Dumbledore remaining as head, and I can persuade them that what we need is a new Minister. One who's willing to make changes at Hogwarts. A few well-placed incidents can undermine Fudge's position as Minister, and I can persuade Bernard to take up the position. With a bit of luck, he'll be in place before we bring down Dumbledore."
"Excellent," Voldemort beamed at Lucius. "I'll leave that in your capable hands, Lucius. Just as long as Nott's willing to go along with whatever I decided regarding policies and such."
"He will," Lucius said with confidence. "Bernard knows where his loyalties lie."
"Another of my plans will also help discredit Fudge," Voldemort added. "Sometime soon, we need a breakout from Azkaban. I've got a lot of loyal supporters in there."
"Including her," Beth spat. "Don't tell me you're releasing her."
"Now, now, Beth, that's no way to talk about Narcissa's sister," Voldemort said to his wife.
With a grimace, Beth turned to face her friend. "Sorry Narcissa, I didn't mean to be rude. I'm just worried about Bellatrix."
"I understand," Narcissa said with a reassuring smile. "In your shoes, I would be wary of her also."
"I can handle Bellatrix," Voldemort insisted.
"You mean, like you did before?" Beth snorted. "She went completely off the rails, and there was nothing you could do about it. She was almost caught several times, before she messed up with the Longbottoms. It was just good luck that she didn't mention Hermione or Severus to anyone."
"Why do you think she didn't?" Voldemort questioned with a raised eyebrow. "Bella was rash, but she wasn't completely foolish. She knew better than to betray me, and I'm confident she can be trusted now."
"You better be right," Beth warned her husband. "If she puts Hermione in danger, I'll kill the bitch."
"Noted," Voldemort said with a smirk. He loved it when Beth showed her dark side, and he was half wishing they were alone so he could take advantage of how much it affected him. "Now, we've got Fudge and the breakout sorted. We also have plans for dealing with Dumbledore. Is there anything else?"
"What about the rest of the Order?" Severus asked. "They won't just roll over when Dumbledore's dead."
"No, they won't," Voldemort agreed with a nod. "But they will be broken. Not only will they have lost their leader, but they'll have lost Harry and Hermione as well. I'm sure we'll have to deal with some fall out from them, but I don't think it's anything we can't handle."
"And what about this prophecy Dumbledore keeps talking about?" Severus checked. "He's convinced Harry is some sort of saviour, whose destiny is to defeat you."
"I want a look at that," Voldemort said. "I should be able to do that once we have Nott in as Minister. Now, if everything's sorted, I think we should talk to the children. It's time they found out just what their fifth year will hold for them."
"This is so frustrating," Hermione Granger moaned, once again glaring at the manor. "I hate being excluded."
"To be fair, we're not being excluded, we're just waiting for them to make some decisions," Hermione's nephew, Harry Potter, pointed out.
"Yeah, they'll call us when they're ready for us," Draco Malfoy added. "Just relax and enjoy the sun, Hermione."
Knowing the boys were right and it was pointless to moan, Hermione settled back down on the rug that was spread out over the grass. With Hermione attempting to relax, Harry and Draco also lay back down. Lying in the sun, the trio chatted about what they thought could be happening in the manor. They'd already been disappointed to hear Lucius wasn't going to be pushing for Dumbledore to get fired, although they had been promised that he was going to be dealt with before the end of the year.
The conversation had drifted away from what was happening in the manor when Narcissa suddenly appeared beside the trio. When she announced the adults wanted to talk to them, the three teenagers were on their feet and heading towards the manor in a flash.
"Sit down and we'll explain what's going to happen," Voldemort said when the trio burst into the room.
Once everyone was settled down, Voldemort explained how the year was going to run. First Dumbledore would have his hearing, and although he would avoid being sacked, it would stir up discontent with Fudge. They were then going to use this discontent to push for a new Minister. While that was going on, Voldemort was going to break his followers out of Azkaban to boost his numbers. The breakout would be another nail in Fudge's coffin, and with pressure from Lucius he would lose his job and the dark would get a Minister appointed who they trusted.
"That all sounds great, but what about us?" Hermione pressed when her father paused for breath. "Severus made it sound as though our act was coming to an end."
"It is," Voldemort confirmed with a nod. "Sometime this year, I'm going to lead a raid on the school and we're going to kill Dumbledore."
"But it's O.W.L.S year," Hermione protested. "You can't ruin our exams."
"Fine, we can enter school after you've taken your exams," Voldemort said with a roll of his eyes.
"Dammit Hermione, we almost got out of taking exams there," Harry hissed.
"Exams are important," Hermione insisted. "I haven't spent the last four years working so hard, only to have everything be for nothing. I want my exams, both O.W.L.S and N.E.W.T.S."
"And you'll get them," Voldemort reassured his daughter. "There's ample time after the exams for us to make our presence felt."
"How are you going to get into school?" Harry asked. "Surely it would take an age to use the floo in Dad's office."
"You're right, it'll take too long to get everyone through the floo network without anyone getting suspicious," Severus said. "We need to find a different way into the school."
"Which is where you three come into things," Voldemort said. "I've got something I want to show you back home."
Getting to his feet, Voldemort pulled out his wand and disappeared with a crack. Less than a minute later, he reappeared with a wooden chest that looked like a wardrobe at his side.
"A wardrobe," Hermione muttered with disgust. "An ugly one at that."
"It's not a wardrobe, Hermione," Voldemort corrected. "It's a vanishing cabinet. Vanishing cabinets come in pairs, and I'm fairly sure the other one is in Hogwarts. All the spells I've cast on it, reveals its twin to be in Hogwarts. However, I have no idea where it's located."
"And you want us to find its twin," Draco deduced.
"I do," Voldemort replied with a nod. "Until we find its twin, we're unable to determine whether they're working or not. It's too risky to try travelling between them when we don't know where the other one is, or what state it's in."
"What happens when we find the second one?" Hermione asked.
"Alert Severus and he can check it out," Voldemort replied. "Once we're sure they work, we can use them to smuggle myself and several of my followers into school. We'll not set off any wards, and Dumbledore will have no idea how we've even entered the school grounds."
"That sounds great, but I'm not sure it's a good idea," Harry said warily. "Don't get me wrong, I want rid of Dumbledore, but I don't want innocent people to get hurt. We can't raid the school and start a fight with all those children present. Some of them will only be eleven and twelve."
"I'm not a complete monster Harry," Voldemort chuckled. "I have a plan. Our visit will be merely a warning. I'll give anyone who wants to join me the chance to do so, and we'll leave for a couple of days to give Dumbledore the chance to evacuate the school. We'll then come back and get rid of Dumbledore."
"You'll come back into an ambush," Hermione argued with a frown. "Dumbledore will get the Order ready for your return."
"We can handle the Order," Voldemort said confidently. "Our numbers are greater than Dumbledore's."
"What happens if Dumbledore discovers how you entered the school before you return?" Draco asked.
"That won't happen," Voldemort replied with a smirk. "Harry and Severus will see to that. They'll both be staying behind with Dumbledore, and they'll ensure we can get back when it's time to strike."
"And what about me?" Hermione asked. "What will I be doing?"
"You'll be leaving with me the first time I arrive," Voldemort announced. "You're going to stun the Order by revealing your true identity."
"That's great," Harry laughed wickedly. "They'll be in a right mess finding out Hermione's being lying to them."
"And then when they find out about you and Severus when we return, they'll be even more broken," Voldemort said, sharing a smirk with his grandson. "Without his precious Boy-Who-Lived, Dumbledore will be devastated. I'll be able to take him out and then we can deal with the rest of the Order. Even if they retreat, they'll need time to recover before they can even think about being a threat again. By the time they've regrouped, we'll have won. We'll have control of the Ministry, and then Hogwarts. All they can do is rebel, and we can snuff out rebellions as they happen."
"Then sixth year and seventh year we can be ourselves," Hermione concluded with a wide smile.
"That you can," Voldemort said with a grin. "But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Everything still needs to work out this year. It's going to be a big year, and everyone needs to be on the top of their game. Let's deal with this year, before we look to the future."
Hermione nodded in agreement, but she couldn't help but think about what lay ahead once they'd gotten rid of Dumbledore. Finally she could drop her act, finally she could go to Hogwarts as herself. Just knowing she only had a few more months to go with her good girl act made Hermione smile. Soon she could be herself, and there would be no more hiding for her ever again.