Here's my latest migraine driven fanfic. I know that seems strange, but this story came to me entirely during the months of my latest bad migraine barrage when I should have been writing Harmony Bound. I did get the next chapter of that posted before I posted the first of this. I hope you all enjoy.
Chapter 1 -Revelations
Hermione paced a distraught path in front of the tall bleachers that had been built on the side of the maze for spectators to watch the final challenge of the Tri-Wizard tournament. Some twenty minutes before, the crowd was cheering as the two Hogwarts champions made a dash for the Tri-Wizard cup to complete the challenge. Then both Cedric and Harry were gone. Only the center of the maze was visible via a special projection in the air, but even before the two champions disappeared, there were signs that this final event wasn't going well. Fleur had to be rescued first and then Viktor was removed while bound, and his disqualification was announced soon after. The cup was supposed to have transported the winner back to the platform at the entrance to receive the prize. No one knew where it had actually taken the two champions.
The entire competition had been mad. From the beginning with Harry's falsified entry to the goblet and on through each task. The entire spectacle was horrid and Hermione wished she could have found a way out of the damn magical contract for her best friend. Now this latest development. She knew the mortality rates on the tournament and now feared the worse. Standing not far away from her were several groups of friends. Ginny and her friend Luna were the closest, standing just to the side on the mid-point of her path. They were holding each other and Ginny had reached for Hermione a couple of times, but she couldn't stand to be still. A short ways the other direction stood Ron, Neville and several other guys. A group of the rest of the Gryffindors from their year were waiting in the first row of the bleachers. A surprisingly mixed group stood to the end of her path, not far from where the judges were in heated discussion with a group of recently arrived Aurors. That group included members from other houses who were acquaintances of Harry and his friends.
From this last group, a lone Slytherin finally made a determined move toward Hermione. Daphne Greengrass matched Hermione's stride as she took hold of her friend's arm. They had met in Runes class the year before and formed an unlikely friendship that they tried to not broadcast for fear of reprisals. Daphne's hand on Hermione's arm made her pause her pacing for a moment as she looked into the stormy grey eyes of the beautiful blonde who had become more of a friend than anyone could guess.
"Hermione, I was listening to the Aurors. They're trying a new charm the Unspeakables have been working on that may let them track the portkey. It works off the runestones that are buried around the country that allow the Ministry to track magic. It should get them within a certain radius."
"But how long? By now they could have been sent somewhere else!"
Daphne sighed. She understood her friend's frustration. Truthfully she didn't hold out much hope on an untested charm that relied on runestones buried in 10 kilometer intervals, but she was trying to give some hope. She was about to respond when a crack sounded from nearby and everyone turned to the judge's platform. Laying there were Harry and Cedric. Harry was clutching the Tri-Wizard cup and sat up briefly. He barely croaked out a call for help as tears ran down his face. Hermione screamed briefly and ran for her best friend, pushing two Aurors and Minister Fudge aside as she did. Daphne and several others followed behind her as Hermione's anguished cry rang across the field.
Hermione dropped to her knees in front of Harry and took him in her arms. Harry was shaking from shock and the after effects of the cruciatus, but his tears ceased as he laid eyes on the one person he needed the most.
"M...Mione…sorry…broke that promise…got hurt again…and Cedric…oh gods...I couldn't save him."
"What happened Harry?"
"Voldemort. He's back. Got a new body. Ugly as hell. You're beautiful though. I should have told you that a long time ago."
"Really Harry! Now is not the time and anyway, my hair is a fright in the wind."
Harry's hand went to smooth down her unruly curls as he managed a brief twitch of his mouth as he tried to smile at her. For a crazy few moments, even their dead friend nearby disappeared and the universe consisted only of them. They both leaned closer and their lips brushed in the barest of kisses. The fleeting moment was broken when their DADA professor, the apparent Mad-Eye Moody, stomped over to them. At the same time, the Aurors and Amos Diggory converged on Cedric's lifeless form. Hermione was pushed away from Harry as he was questioned briefly. Then Mad-Eye pulled Harry up by an arm and moved him back towards the castle.
"C'mon lad, best get you out of the wind and back to the castle to get checked out. You all can talk to him at the castle after you look after the other."
Harry wanted to protest, but Moody's grip was firm as he was pushed forward. Hermione was pulled away as an Auror tried to ask her if Harry had given her any additional details. By the time she answered him, it was too late to follow after Harry.
The next hour was madness that wouldn't become clear until sometime later. Dumbledore became suspicious of the way Moody acted with Harry and not long after, he confronted the false professor. Once the Polyjuice wore off, Barty Crouch Junior was found out, the real Moody was discovered, and a few answers were found. It was all too late for Cedric though. Harry meanwhile was questioned and gave his full story in the presence of Dumbledore, McGonagall, Madam Maxine, Hermione, Minister Fudge, Madam Bones, and several senior Aurors. Once innumerable questions were asked, he was sent to his reserved bed in the hospital wing. Madam Pomfrey treated him for a sprained ankle, cuts, bruises, and cruciatus exposure. Although he didn't want to, he was forced to stay overnight. Hermione belligerently stayed by his bedside, wand in hand, threatening to hex anyone who tried to remove her.
Hermione slouched in her chair by Harry's bed and managed some sleep in small increments. Eventually the early morning sun broke through the windows and Harry gradually woke. His shakes were gone and he appeared to be on the mend. Hermione handed him his glasses and he smiled as her sleep rumpled hair came into focus. He reached for her hand and they traded a surprisingly shy smile.
"Oh Harry, I'm glad you're awake! How do you feel?"
"A bit stiff. Not too bad."
"I suppose you want to know what's been happening?"
"Actually, first, um…well, I need to talk to you. You see…damn why is this so hard?"
"You know you can talk to me about anything Harry."
"I know, which makes this even more stupid for me to be tongue tied. Look Hermione, I need to tell you the full story about what happened, but first I need to tell you that through everything I had one constant thought…"
Hermione waited as Harry paused and stared at her. She knew he would tell her when he was ready. After about a half minute, he continued.
"My thought was that I needed to get myself out of there and get back to you because I knew you would be so worried. Not Ron, or Dumbledore, but you. Hermione, you're my best friend. I don't tell you enough how much I appreciate you. Without your research and helping me practice, I never would have made it through the tournament…so, um thank you…but, there's something else…"
"…this is probably really selfish right now, but I have to tell you. After what happened, well I realize we never know what's next. I mean I'm sure Cedric planned on seeing his parents and Cho at the end. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I've been having these feelings about you. I can't say I fully understand, but I think I see you as more than a friend. I know it's too dangerous…"
As Harry began to stumble through his words again, a finger on his lips quieted him as Hermione leaned over and smiled at him. Then her finger was removed as she leaned in further and their lips met. This time it was more than a brush, as each responded and pressed in further. His position in the bed made it a bit awkward, but neither cared as each grew flush. When they pulled back, both were grinning.
"Wow. Just, whoa. Um, so...do you…um…damn Potter get it together! Doyouwanttobemygirlfriend?"
Hermione laughed lightly and shook her head.
"Yes Harry, very much so. When you disappeared, I…I just can't tell you how empty I felt."
Harry grinned and reached for her hand. As their fingers intertwined, she leaned in again and they began a kiss that would have gone deeper until Madam Pomfrey's voice interrupted them.
"Ah well Mr. Potter, obviously you are awake and feeling better. Enough of that now, I don't need your blood pressure spiking! Let's get you checked over."
Hermione pulled back, but didn't let go of Harry's hand as their eyes stayed locked. The school healer ran a few diagnostic charms and made a couple of notes before stepping away briefly and returning with a single potion phial.
"Well, you're doing much better. One more potion for the cruciatus exposure and I'll send you on with some bruise paste to apply over the next couple of days. Get your rest and you'll be fine."
Harry nodded and took the last potion, swallowing it quickly so that he could expedite his departure from the hospital wing. After that was done, Hermione stepped aside so that he could dress. Five minutes later, he was discharged and left the hospital wing hand in hand with his new girlfriend. The morning was still early, so they decided to head down to the Great Hall for breakfast.
"I know we need to talk about everything that happened Hermione, but first, what about us? Do you want people to know? Ron won't be happy."
"Honestly Harry, I don't care who knows. I know you worry that I'll be a target, but I have been linked to you for years now anyway. Your fan girls won't be happy, but I can handle them. Why should Ron care anyway?"
"Well, he likes you. Didn't you know? I think he's been trying to figure out a way to ask you out."
"What? Well he has some strange ways to show it. Look Harry, Ron is a friend, but that's it. Honestly, how could anyone think the two of us would work? We fight enough as it is now. Anyway, Voldemort is back, that should be everyone's main worry."
"I know, but he was my first friend. He made things difficult with his jealousy early in the tournament, but he came around eventually. I'll talk to him. He needs to grow up and be a real friend. I've got a lot bigger worries now."
Hermione squeezed his hand in agreement as they approached the Great Hall. They glanced at each other just before entering and then strode in confidently together. All heads turned to see Harry's return and then his grasp of Hermione was noticed as the whispers started. They ignored it all as they headed for the Gryffindor table, where a space was open across from Ron. Their friend was beet red and grimaced as they sat down. They were barely in place when he erupted.
"Well, I guess the two of you are together now? I see how it is. Of course she wouldn't want to be with simple Ronald Weasley. No, had to have a champion. You know mate, I can't believe you. After everything we've been through, you go and steal my girl!"
"Ronald Bilius Weasley! I am not, nor have I ever been, your girl. I am not a possession. I didn't even know you were interested in me. You certainly don't treat me like someone who cares."
Before Harry could say anything, Ron stood up, grabbed a roll and fled from the Great Hall. Shaking his head, Harry reached for a pitcher of juice and began to pour for Hermione.
"You know, I can't say that I'm too surprised. And I guess I don't really care either. You're by my side as always and that's what counts."
"He'll come around once he cools down Harry."
"Probably, but honestly I'm tired of it. How many times am I supposed to forgive him for being an arse?"
"Heya Harrikins! Glad to see you figured things out. Congrats on snagging one of the prettiest witches in the school…"
"…and the smartest."
"Anyway, we'll go sort Ronnie out.."
"…have a new product that needs testing anyway."
"He's definitely out of line…"
"…I mean really, like how could he not see this coming?"
"So don't worry about him…"
"…yeah, forget about the idiot and go snog your girl."
"By the time you get back, we'll have him sorted."
Harry shook his head at the ping-pong dialogue of the twins. As they left, he raised his glass in salute and refocused on his breakfast. Just as he was finishing up, Professor McGonagall made her way over to them.
"Mr. Potter, since you are almost done eating, the headmaster would like to see you in his office in fifteen minutes."
Harry sighed and nodded to her before swallowing the last of his juice and turning to Hermione.
"I guess this is to be expected. I figured the old man would want to talk. I have questions for him too."
Hermione raised an eyebrow at him as Harry answered her silent question.
"Mainly, we need to talk about why I am always Voldemort's target. Why choose me to donate blood? He has other enemies that would have been easier to get to. I don't know, just everything from the last four years doesn't add up and I think the headmaster knows more than he has been saying. With Voldemort back, it's time for answers."
"Do you want me to go with you?"
"Thanks Hermione, but I think this may be better one-on-one. I know you would be there if I wanted you to. I'll probably need to vent after though."
"I understand, well I'll wait in the common room for you."
Harry and Hermione rose and left the Great Hall together, walking halfway back before pausing to go opposite directions. Looking around, they found they were alone briefly and exchanged a simple kiss that left them both grinning. Then Harry turned and made his way determinedly toward the headmaster's tower.
Upon pausing at the gargoyle guard, Harry was granted access immediately as it moved out of the way. He was soon at the door to Dumbledore's office and the old man called for him to enter. Taking a deep breath to center himself, Harry opened the door and stepped into the intimidating environment of tall bookcases, whirling devices, and heavy magic that was Albus Dumbledore's office. The old man sat behind his large walnut desk and gestured Harry over to a chair across from him. Once Harry was seated, the room was quiet for a moment until Dumbledore gathered his thoughts.
"Harry, I arranged this time to speak with you per your request in the hospital wing. After you gave your story you said that you had questions for me, but would need a day or so to think on them. Are those questions ready now?"
Harry took a deep breath and nodded as he began.
"As ready as ever sir. Truthfully, everything is still swirling around in my head, but I don't think that will stop until I have some answers. My first and biggest question as always is why me? Why is Voldemort so focused on me? I know from flashbacks that his attack when I was a baby wasn't focused on my parents, but on me. And every year it's the same. Now he chose my blood to use for the resurrection. There must be a reason."
"Ah yes, I had an idea that would be the primary issue. I understand your questioning, but I have to wonder if you're ready? You are not quite fifteen, still a boy in many ways."
"Please sir, I was never really a child. Or not a normal child at least, no matter how much my relatives tried to make me 'normal'. You obviously know more and I think I am due for the truth finally."
Dumbledore sat back and pondered Harry for a full minute before sighing lightly.
"I suppose maybe you are Harry. I had so hoped to give you more time. Alright, I can tell you that the reason Voldemort is focused on you is due to a prophecy that was made a few months before you were born. It predicted someone that matches your characteristics would be the one to defeat him."
Dumbledore paused and Harry sat, obviously waiting for something more. A prophecy was intriguing, but the information was vague. When the old man didn't offer anything else, Harry shook his head.
"Really sir? That's all? Do you know the prophecy? Who gave the prophecy? Is it reliable? Who all knows about it? How did Voldemort find out?"
"I don't know that you need to be burden…"
"Enough! I have been burdened with being an orphan, dropped off and made to stay with relatives who hate me! I have been burdened with fighting Voldemort now three times, as well as a basilisk, acromantulas, a dragon, merpeople, and even blast ended skrewts! I've been burdened with fame I don't want and expectations I tried to avoid! I deserve to know the truth!"
As Harry spoke, he sat forward in the chair and his magic got loose a bit as pictures rattled on the walls and a few devices wobbled on tables. His hair stood on end and he almost lost control completely before a soft trill from Fawkes brought his attention back to the room and he calmed himself. His magic settled, but his glare did not as he stared down the headmaster. After a couple of minutes, Dumbledore finally gave a nod.
"I suppose you are right. I had so hoped to give you more time. Yes, I know the prophecy. Professor Trelawney gave it to me when I was interviewing her for her position as Divination professor. You need to understand that when a seer gives a prophecy, they go into a trance and have no memory of the incident. The magic behind it is ancient. There is a special place in the Department of Mysteries at the Ministry called the Hall of Prophecy. Whenever a true prophecy is delivered, the ancient magic records it and places it in a sphere in the hall. Only those who the prophecy is regarding can ever remove the sphere. Because of the nature of how it was delivered, I do believe it is reliable. Of course, interpretation is always an issue with prophecy, as they are never given in clear language. Are you really sure you wish to hear this?"
"Alright, here is what I heard fifteen years ago:"
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches...
born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies...
and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not...
and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives...
the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies..."
Dumbledore stopped and gave Harry a chance to absorb what was said. After a minute of contemplation, Harry began to analyze the prophecy.
"Wow, definitely vague. How are you sure it's me? And how did Voldemort find out about it?"
"Yes, as sure as I can be. If we break down the different parts of the prophecy, it helps. There were two couples who the first qualifier could have applied to, two couples who thrice defied Lord Voldemort. Both of those couples also had sons born at the end of July."
"Correct Harry, your birthdays are just a day apart and Frank and Alice Longbottom were active in the fight against Lord Voldemort. They were good friends with your parents. Sadly, if things had been different, you and Neville would have likely grown up together. So, while two of the qualifiers could apply to either of you, it is the third qualifier that identifies you specifically. The Dark Lord marked you when he gave you your scar. It is true irony that he chose his own foe."
"Alright, I suppose that makes a bit of sense. As much as any of this does. At least I can understand that he may see it that way. So, looking at the rest of the prophecy, neither can live while the other survives. That means one of us has to die. If I want to live, I have to kill him?"
"Yes Harry, I believe that is what the prophecy says. This is why I have withheld it from you for a time."
"Fine, but you've avoided my last question. How did Voldemort find out?"
Dumbledore looked concerned and didn't answer Harry right away, causing his anger to flare again as a breeze started blowing parchment on his desk.
"I deserve to know!"
"Yes, I suppose you do. Please remember that I have my reasons for everything that has occurred. I will admit to mistakes. I obviously should have kept an eye on the Dursleys more. I had so hoped Petunia's heart would soften to her only sister's child. I would take this burden from you if I could. Do you truly feel you are prepared to know more?"
Harry sighed and shook his head.
"Look headmaster, I'm sure you think by some measure that everything you've done is for the best. I still need to reserve judgment on that. I want to know everything you know. I am having a hard time trusting you. I am now giving you a chance to start rebuilding that trust. Do not withhold anything from me. I am more a man than most whose birthdays indicate such."
Dumbledore paused once again as he regarded Harry's fierce glare. He hadn't realized until this moment just how poorly he had truly done. To have lost the trust so completely…he understood now that he had no choice.
"Alright Harry, the reason Voldemort knows about the prophecy is that a spy overheard the first half of it and relayed it to him. The spy was at the Hog's Head pub where Professor Trelawney had rented a room. The spy was discovered though and removed before hearing the entire prophecy."
"A spy? One of Voldemort's Death Eaters? Who?"
"I cannot divulge that confidence Harry. Suffice it to say, I have dealt with the person. They actually are quite remorseful and now work for me as a spy against Voldemort now."
"Great, so you hired the person who betrayed my family? Wait, a Death Eater spy that works for you. Snape was a Death Eater. Bloody fucking hell, I'll kill him!"
"Harry James Potter! Calm down!"
Harry's latest flare of magic was ceased when Dumbledore cast a petrficus totalus. Still, in the few seconds that it was out of control, several objects around the room had been cast about and smashed. Dumbledore stood up and looked down at Harry.
"Harry, I cannot let you destroy my office. I understand your anger, but you must let me deal with Professor Snape. I have bound him with unbreakable vows and he has his own reasons to hate his past choices. I understand that the two of you will never get along, but he is vital to the war effort. Now that Voldemort is back, we need ears in his camp. Snape has already been called back to his former master and is now playing a very dangerous game balanced between us. Without him, we will be completely blind to what Voldemort is doing. Combined with the Minister's choice to deny Voldemort's return, our hands would be truly tied without Severus in the position where he is. Now, I am going to release the spell on you. Please do not destroy anything else. You feel you are old enough to know the prophecy, then you should be old enough to control your magic."
After he could move again, Harry retook his seat and glared at the headmaster. He hated to admit it, but he had to understand his position somewhat.
"Fine, I'll leave Professor Snape alone for now, but when Voldemort is gone, he will answer for his crimes. So, can I ask another question now?"
Dumbledore nodded and Harry continued.
"Next question separate from the prophecy. How did Voldemort come back? What happened to him when he tried to kill me?"
"Alas, we can only guess, although my guess is quite educated. As I've told you, your mother used ancient magic with her love to shield you on that night. That somehow destroyed Voldemort's body, but his soul remained."
"His soul? How? Like a ghost?"
"No, not a ghost. He never truly passed on. I have a theory, but it is far beyond a fourth year student."
"Harry, I've already told you more than I am comfortable with. I am relying on the fact that Voldemort has just returned and I predict his forces will take some time to gather and strengthen. As it is, I am going to arrange for some special tutoring this summer if you agree."
"Tutoring? In what subjects?"
"In Occlumency. The art of shielding your mind and the knowledge it now holds. I would have preferred that you have shields before I told you the prophecy, but like I said, I believe we have time. I have an associate that I think will be able to tutor you this summer. If you agree."
"I suppose that makes sense. Anyway, since I apparently have a resurrected Dark Lord to kill now, it's not like I can exactly slack off for the summer. Since you're going to get me trained anyway, please tell me your theory."
"Tell me! I need all the knowledge possible! I am not a child!"
This time Harry was in greater control of his magic, which didn't disturb the room, but still flowed around him in a nimbus. Dumbledore knew that his magic had matured over the last year, but now it was obvious the great potential that lay in the young wizard.
"I am really not comfortable with this Harry…but to regain some of your trust, I will agree with one stipulation."
Harry nodded for Dumbledore to continue.
"You study Occlumency this summer and when you return to school I will test your shields. If I don't find them strong enough, I will remove any memories that I feel are too dangerous for you to keep."
Harry bristled at the thought of having his brain messed with. Still, the idea of blocking his thoughts was enticing. After everything the old man had told him so far, he knew he needed to know the rest.
"Alright, I agree. Now, what is your theory about how Voldemort came back?"
The silence in the room lasted for a couple of minutes as Dumbledore organized his thoughts before he spoke.
"What I am about to share with you Harry is the darkest sort of magic. You won't find it in the library, even in the restricted section. Only a few books in the world even mention it and I have sought those out in an attempt to destroy as many as possible. The magic was originally worked in Ancient Egypt and only the foulest necromancers have ever attempted it. There is a device called a horcrux. Basically it is a soul container, an item that the necromancer places a piece of their soul within. Splitting the soul requires a dark ritual and brutal violence. A piece of the soul is separated, put in an item, and then hidden. This allows for a physical body to be destroyed and the soul to remain. As long as a horcrux is still viable, resurrection is possible."
"Bloody hell. Are you sure?"
"Unfortunately yes. Until your second year, my theory was unproven. Then you provided me with a destroyed horcrux as proof."
"The diary! It had a piece of his soul. That's how he controlled Ginny."
"Indeed. Only something with a living piece of soul could have controlled her in such a way."
"So the horcrux is gone now? But he was resurrected. Does that mean there is more than one? Gods, how many? They could be anything…anywhere."
"Yes, there had to be more than just the one As for how many, I don't think there could be an obscene number. Each time a soul is torn, a person loses a bit of their humanity. My theory is that Voldemort would choose a strong magical number: 3, 7 or 13. Truthfully, I don't think three would be enough for him. I think thirteen would be too many, even for his dark soul. My educated guess is seven. I believe the diary was his first. The shade you described placed his age at around sixteen. I think since it was his first, he picked a more common item. I knew Voldemort as a young man and he was quite vain. I surmise that he would plan for his later horcruxes to be items of value, both historical and monetary. Again, this is based on conjecture, but I have studied his history quite a bit. I could tell you more, but perhaps that should wait until you return for the new school year. Then I think I will give you some lessons in Voldemort's personal history. Now, any additional questions?"
"One more. I know why he has been targeting me, but there is more to it. We almost seem to have a connection. The visions I see, the things I hear. Has his loose soul been floating around influencing me?"
Dumbledore's face grew dark as he audibly sighed. Harry gulped. After everything he had heard, Dumbledore's reaction wasn't good.
"I can see you are aware of my concern. I have already told you much more than I planned to right now. I suppose though that you need to hear the last. This will be extremely difficult to hear. Are you sure you want to know the last part of my theory?"
Harry nodded and the headmaster continued.
"On the night that Voldemort attacked your parents and you, we are still not sure of everything that exactly happened. Obviously his plans for that night went horribly awry. Ever since I found out about your dreams and visions, as well as the pain in your scar, I have had an idea what may be happening..."
Dumbledore paused for a few moments and Harry gave him a hard look.
"…I believe on the night of the attack that Voldemort created an unintentional horcrux. That scar of yours is not normal. I know that no potions or healing spells have been able to heal it. I believe your scar is a horcrux."
Harry stared in disbelief for a long moment. The room became blurry and he felt disconnected from reality. It was a horrible realization. Of course, this was all theory and conjecture. Still, it made horrible sense. How else would he be connected to Voldemort? Still, he didn't seem to be possessed like Ginny. There weren't any times when he couldn't remember what he had done. Maybe the soul piece was waiting? Would it suddenly come alive and cause him to do something horrible? The thought finally brought Harry back to the present as he doubled over and retched. Once he finished, he found Dumbledore standing to the side of his chair. The headmaster vanished the mess and placed a hand on Harry's shoulder.
"Now you can see why I waited to tell you. I want you to know that every free moment I have had, I've spent researching a solution for you."
"How do we destroy it? I stabbed the diary with a basilisk fang. What other ways can a horcrux be destroyed?"
"Unfortunately only a couple of kinds of magical poison and magical fire can destroy a horcrux Harry. They were never meant to be made from people or animals."
"So I'm possessed? I'm dangerous?"
"No! Trust me, I've asked myself this and I don't feel you are. As much as I care about you Harry, I wouldn't risk the other students if I thought otherwise. Remember, you are an unintentional horcrux. The ritual was not completed properly. This means the soul shard is not complete and cannot function the same as a typical horcrux. That combined with your strong magical core make you quite safe. I theorize that if we could remove the horcrux, your core would be even stronger once it is unfettered. That is why I continue my research."
Harry nodded, absorbing everything. It was more than he ever dreamed. He still felt a bit sick, but somewhat reassured that he wasn't suddenly going to go rogue among his friends. Thinking of his friends, he thought about his new girlfriend. Speaking of research, Hermione was the research queen. She would want to know about the meeting. She could definitely help, but did he dare tell her anything? Maybe some of it? No, if he was going to tell her anything, he would have to tell her everything. She would know if he held back. He was scared what she would think. He realized though that she had stood by him through everything so far and knew she wouldn't abandon him now. If anything, she would make lists and start tackling the problem head on. Thinking about how his girlfriend would organize the problem, a small smile quirked his lips.
"Professor Dumbledore, I know you are worried about security, but I need to tell Hermione. I know you are ready to tell me no, but she is my best friend and now my girlfriend. She hasn't backed down from anything yet. You need help with the research and she is the best at that. You are too busy to devote enough time to it. I also know that she will be happy to take the Occlumency training. I mean this is the woman who used a time turner last year so she could take every elective. I can't do this on my own sir. I need her."
Dumbledore analyzed Harry for a few long moments, seeing the determination on his face, before giving a bare nod.
"Alright Harry, you can tell Miss Granger, but no one else. Not even Mister Weasley. Speaking of Miss Granger, I believe she has some additional news to tell you. Good news for a change, but I will let her relay that. Oh, please have her come to me when she is ready. I have some books that may be of assistance. And one other thing, when you turn fifteen this summer, you need to go to Gringotts. They'll probably send a notice, but that's your advance warning. Now, any more questions?"
"Not for now. Maybe later."
"Of course. I will be on the continent for three weeks at the start of summer. ICW business. We cannot discuss this via owl, but after that you can owl me and I can come visit in person if you have something to discuss. Now, Charms class is over and I believe Miss Granger is free until lunch. I will let you go talk to her."
Harry distractedly thanked the headmaster and left the office with his head spinning. He headed downstairs and found Hermione on her way from Charms to the library. She lit up when she saw him and gave him an enthusiastic hug, only to pull back when she saw the look of concern on his face.
"The headmaster had a lot to tell me and we need to talk Hermione. Somewhere alone."
Hermione nodded and led him down a side hallway. A quick alohomora opened an unused room and they found themselves in an abandoned office. Hermione pulled a dust cover off a small sofa and sat down. When Harry cast a privacy charm, her face grew grim. Then he turned and took her hands in his.
"Hermione, you know how I feel about you. I've just had a barrage of information and I have a lot to tell you…"