Chapter 17: Calculating and Calculations

Sorry for the wait on this chapter, RL has been pretty crazy for me lately.

*"I don't know how much longer, all right?" Malfoy shot at him, oblivious to Harry standing right behind him. 'It's taking longer than I thought it would.' Crabbe opened his mouth, but Malfoy appeared to second-guess what he was going to say. 'Look, it's none of your business what I'm doing, Crabbe, you and Goyle just do as you're told and keep a lookout!'

'I tell my friends what I'm up to, if I want them to keep a lookout for me,' Harry said, just loud enough for Malfoy to hear him." *

On the day the students were to return, Hermione decided to go visit Hagrid. She hadn't seen him very much over the break and she needed to get outside. She had been mulling over her meeting with Snape and her thoughts about Dumbledore and the matrix and she felt as if her brain was just tired. She knew she needed to put it away for a while and consider things before she acted. She thought she knew what needed to be done and she had some ideas about the next equations she could run, but it made her nervous. For someone who had always followed the rules, this would be a change. She wondered if it were necessary or if she was being foolish.

She bundled up and set out, tromping through the snow and wind down to Hagrid's hut. She could see smoke billowing out of the fireplace, promising warmth and hot (if not too tasty) tea. To her great surprise, it was the headmaster who answered the door, rather than Hagrid.

'Professor Dumbledore! Hello.' She said, her voice high with surprise. Given what she was thinking of, she felt awkward and uncertain.

'Ah, Miss Granger, coming to visit Hagrid? Come in, I was just leaving, but Hagrid still has fresh tea and cakes to share.'

'Er… Yes, sir. Hi Hagrid. I came to wish you Happy New Year.' She said, pulling out a small parcel wrapped in shiny paper.

'For Me?! Oh me dear, yeh shouldn' ta!' Hagrid clutched her parcel in his hand and let a great tear fall from his right eye before he wrapped an arm around her in a hug that cut off her breath momentarily.

Hermione had seen the novelty mug in a muggle shop and had enlarged it to fit the giant's hands. It simply said 'My Favorite Teacher' on it. She knew it wasn't something that most of her professors would have appreciated but she also knew it was exactly the sort of thing Hagrid would love.

He exclaimed over and over when he opened his package, showing it to Dumbledore and making a big show out of pouring his tea into it. Hermione smiled, she was glad she had taken the time to come see him today. It was a great way to get her mind off of everything for a while, and he was so warm and gentle and happy. It was calming to be near him in his familiar cottage.

Before they could settle with their tea and a plate full of suspicious looking baked goods, Dumbledore took his leave. Before leaving he pulled a scroll out of his sleeve and handed it to Hermione.

'Would you mind giving this to Harry when you see him my dear?'

'Of course, Professor.' She replied, tucking the scroll into a large coat pocket.

'It's just in regards to another one of our lessons.'

She nodded. 'yes, sir.' She smiled in what she hoped was a convincing manner, if she were to move forward with the plan she was developing, she would need to be better at acting natural. It was definitely not something that came naturally to her… she knew her face was usually an open book.

With that, the headmaster said goodbye to Hagrid ('Great man, Dumbledore.') and was off, leaving them to their tea.

Hermione arrived back at the school around the time that Harry and the others had returned from the Burrow. The hallways were chaotic; students, fresh from their holidays, dragged trunks and satchels to their common rooms and caught up with their friends. She gave Harry the new password, still determinedly ignoring Won-won and giving vague answers about how her holidays were, with her parents, as everyone thought. It made it easier since she had spent some time with them, but she also felt that maybe she was getting better at subterfuge.

Harry didn't waste any time in updating Hermione on what happened during Slughorn's party and then his eventful meeting with the Minister of Magic. As they talked, Hermione couldn't help but worry… Harry was not convinced, no matter how she tried to gloss it over, he was determined to accuse Draco Malfoy. She hoped rather than expected that Dumbledore's response to this information would convince Harry further… 'If only the Headmaster weren't so secretive about his information,' she thought. It seemed like a poor way to manage a fight or revolution or whatever it was they would all soon be engaged in. One person holding all the information and dolling it out in limited amounts to a select few…

Later that night, when she couldn't sleep, Hermione pulled out her equations… she had a few ideas she wanted to try. Pulling out a fresh sheet of parchment, she started by adding Draco into the matrix, including the existence of an unbreakable vow. Snape was clearly trying to hint to her about that…given what happened the night of Slughorns party, Draco was definitely part of this.

Everything changed.

She gasped at the sudden change adding Draco had made to the matrix. Almost all the numbers shifted a little bit. Why hadn't she thought to add him before? Until she had gotten confirmation from Snape, she had thought Harry was wrong… this was going to be big, she could tell, but it would also take a lot of work; she would need to recalculate a number of the equations that had shifted in order to make the matrix accurate with his addition. There wasn't proper room to project the matrix up and really take a look at the orbits; that would have to wait.

The next morning, Hermione went straight to Vector's classroom. Breakfast hadn't started yet and the professor was still in, shooting Hermione her usual cheerful smile and morning greetings. Hermione pulled out some of her work and charmed the matrix to appear above her.

'Professor, I learned some new information and added someone to the Matrix, it really changed things. I almost have everything calculated and I wanted to show you right away.'

'I see, yes it is quite different. 'Vector said as she slowly walked underneath the brightly orbiting colors.

'Very different, indeed. Who did you add?'

Hermione took a deep breath. This was the beginning of it. She would normally keep this information to herself, but now she had decided to pass it along to her professor.

'Er… I added Draco Malfoy… he's well, Professor… he's a death eater, I think.'

Her professor shot her an incredulous look.

'Are you sure?'

'Professor Snape almost confirmed it for me… do you know that he…?' She stopped. She did not want to give away any of Snape's secrets.

'He's a spy. Yes, I am aware of that fact.'

'Oh, good.' She said in relief. 'I didn't want to, well… see professor, even though Snape told me about Draco… I don't think Dumbledore would want you to know, or at least maybe he wouldn't want me to know, but I sort of figured it out.' She stopped and took a deep breath before she babbled on anymore.

'Professor, I think it's important you know a bit of what I know so that our calculations are accurate, so I'm taking a chance and I'm not sure what the headmaster would think about that.' She finally said. She was a Gryffindor and sometimes it was easiest to just be direct.

Vector smiled understandingly.

'I normally wouldn't recommend we go against his choices… he is our headmaster and the head of the order… however, I understand perfectly, Hermione. I have been tempted to give some of my information over to you for the same purpose. No need to worry. Even if we do have to show him our matrix, chances are he wouldn't understand it enough to see anything like that. Dumbledore does not excel when it comes to maths. I will, however, ask that you limit what you tell me to only pertinent information that might affect the matrix and I will agree to do the same.'

Hermione smiled in relief and nodded. That had gone over rather well and she felt like she had taken an important first step.

'Now, it looks like you should be able to finish these calculations by the end of the afternoon after your free period, but for now, you must head to breakfast.' Vector pulled an old fashioned watch on a chain out of her pocket and vanished the matrix.

'You must get proper sustenance for your day.' The older woman said, dismissing Hermione with a nod and a smile.