April 7, 1997
Hermione sunk into her now familiar position against Harry's side and waited for him to speak. They'd split up from Ron who was now most likely fending off questions from Lavender, Neville, and Ginny on all that they had learned that day. She was thankful Ron offered to deal with the inquisition on Harry's behalf.
The trio had agreed that they needed to have a long talk about what could be shared and to who but those discussions could begin tomorrow…or maybe the next day. They needed clear heads to plot and plan and her's was currently spinning from the information overload from their day long conversation with the headmaster. She heard Harry cast Muffliato and patiently waited for him to speak.
"You know, part of me was hoping you had exaggerated how ridiculous Dumbledore's plan was. It's even more insane than you made it out to be."
She finally asked the question that had been on her mind for the last day. "Are you okay?"
He chuckled. "No. Not at all. But on the plus side I get to own the most powerful wand ever created in a few days. That's something I suppose."
Despite herself she laughed. "And to think, all you need to do to become the Master of Death is to let Professor Snape murder Dumbledore."
"Snape didn't look too great did he?"
"Slowly crumbling Unbreakable Vows tend to have that effect I suppose," she replied.
"Do you think Snape is on our side?" he asked.
"Dumbledore certainly thinks so."
"He's been wrong before…but the things Dumbledore said about him and Mum…" Harry offered helplessly before drifting off. There were so many unknowns.
"I think we should ask her," Harry finally offered.
Hermione pulled back. "You're joking."
"We are going to have the resurrection stone in less than a week, Hermione. Dumbledore wanted me to make peace before I died but I reckon we could use it for the opposite reason. To figure out a way to survive. We have this resource that will let us talk to people without any risk of our secrets spreading."
"You think you could handle that?" she asked.
"Yes," he answered, not sounding quite as sure of himself as he'd hoped. "But either way that's where you come in."
"You get to decide when we use it and only you will know where it is."
"The temptation could be too great," she theorized, "you could go behind my back and try to get it."
Harry pulled her back into his side as he let out a small laugh. "First of all there is no way I could ever figure out how to get past the security measures you would use to hide it. You're the one who always explains that sort of thing to me. I'd be clueless."
As she waited for him to continue she realized he wasn't wrong. He and Ron wouldn't even know where to start.
"Besides, I reckon the last thing my parents would want is for me to keep calling them up for a chat instead of focusing on this," he continued.
"So you're saying we should come up with a list of topics to question them about?" she asked, becoming more and more intrigued at the potential usefulness of the stone.
"Well, I assumed you'd be the one coming up with most of the questions, but yeah," he joked.
She playfully poked him in the ribs. "Dumbledore said we should avoid using the stone," she reminded.
"Yeah, well he was the one dumb enough to get himself cursed because of it. I've got you to stop me from doing something that stupid," he answered, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
She pondered his words and realized there truly were many unanswered questions Harry's parents could provide answers to. The nature of Harry's protection…other potential research tools and Potter assets…even Horcrux theories.
She sat up and grabbed a blank piece of parchment and self inking quill out of her bag, eager to start making a list. As much as she wanted to relax for the rest of the evening their time was limited and there would be time for that once they were done. She'd expected Harry to protest but apparently he was in agreement.
Snape was due to fulfill his vow of finishing Draco's task in five days and they needed to plan as much as possible while Dumbledore was still available for questions and input. After that they would truly be on their own and the headmaster was one person she had no intention of using the stone on if they could help it.
Saturday, June 28, 1997
As they prepared to pass through the barrier at Platform 9 ¾ Hermione took a breath and girded herself for the idiocy they were about to encounter. The fact that they had ten Order members standing behind them helped quash any nervousness that Harry's aunt and uncle would actually have a chance to do anything, but having to deal with them at all was enough to set her on edge. Besides, it was the discussion they would be having immediately after leaving the station that really weighed on her mind.
Hermione realized Harry was waiting on her and refocused on the task at hand. "Ready," she affirmed.
Harry nodded in agreement and stared at the barrier. "Just remember, let me do the talking here and-"
"I'll do the talking at Privet Drive," she interrupted, finishing his sentence. "Let's go. I don't want to keep my parents waiting."
They quickly passed through the barrier and she heard Ron quietly cast Muffliato as well as a few silencing spells for good measure. Vernon Dursley was sure to be enraged at what they were about to share and any precautions to avoid undue attention would be worth it.
Harry's uncle seemed ready to bark out an order but another silencing spell from Ron beat him to the punch. She did her best not to laugh as Harry began explaining the orders of engagement for the summer.
"This is Hermione," he began as his Uncle's face began turning the most interesting shade of red, "she is going to be staying with us."
Harry's aunt was all set to voice her strenuous objections but apparently she had also been successfully muted.
"She is of age and can do as much magic as she wants," Harry continued. "She'll be expanding my room and adding some additional enchantments to the house…additional protections."
Harry's uncle attempted to lurch toward Harry but found himself rooted to his spot. "She'll be hitting you with spells like that as well if any of you try anything. She knows more magic than anyone I've ever met and she hates all of you with a passion, so I wouldn't try that again."
Hermione did her best to look intimidating but it was difficult considering how amusing the situation was.
"We'll be staying in my room most of the time but obviously we'll need to use the kitchen and toilet. We've worked out a schedule," Harry informed as he handed several sheets of muggle paper to his Aunt. Hermione was pleased with how well Harry was managing to give out orders and realized he was simply doing an impersonation of her. Unlike Harry and Ron, who at least pretended to listen, Harry's relatives didn't seem quite as agreeable.
Harry gestured to the gathered group standing behind them. "Throughout the next two months we will have visitors. They will be apparating into my room. That means they will basically transport themselves magically-"
Harry paused as his uncle's eye twitched rather violently in response to the V and M words.
"As I was saying, anyone visiting will transport and stay in our room while they are there, so you will never see them," he concluded before turning to her.
"Did I miss anything, Hermione?"
"The protections on the room," she reminded.
"Ah, right. If you value your limbs and your health in general don't even think of trying to come into my room. Hermione's come up with about twenty different spells that will inflict damage on anyone not on the approved list and you lot didn't come close to making it. You're on her other list.
That everything?" he asked her once again.
She decided to keep quiet and simply nod her head while shooting her hosts the most pleasant smile she could manage. She was sure they would be having several conversations over the coming weeks anyway, whether they wanted to or not.
"Right," Harry continued. "Hermione and I are going to appar- do the teleporting thing I mentioned earlier, which should give us about a ninety minute head start on you two. If you leave us alone we'll leave you alone this summer. Nod if you understand and agree."
It took several more seconds of futile struggling against his magical bonds before Vernon gave up the fight, forcefully and angrily bobbing his head in agreement.
"My friends wanted to chat with you about some plans for when I turn seventeen and the protection on your house ends. Please listen to them, Uncle Vernon," Harry pleaded before turning away and leading her back through the magical barrier.
Hermione apparated the pair to a park near Privet Drive and they began walking toward their temporary base of operations, safely concealed underneath the invisibility cloak.
"Honestly Harry you didn't have to make me sound so ruthless," she commented quietly.
"I did," he countered immediately. "My uncle never listens. But it's not just that. Everyone takes you for granted, Hermione. They have no idea what you are capable of."
Harry suddenly stopped walking.
"I've had an idea…how to end him if we manage to destroy all the Horcruxes," he informed as he began walking again.
"What is it?"
"We'll talk about it later," he replied. "We should focus on the next bit for now. Besides… you aren't going to like it."
Hermione tried not to think about Harry's cryptic tone as they turned onto Privet Drive She looked at her watch.
"My parents should be here in ten minutes," she informed. "It's not too late to-"
"We're giving them a choice, Hermione," Harry interrupted.
"But sending them away and casting-."
"We're giving them a choice," Harry repeated. "They deserve that."
Hermione knew he was right and they'd been arguing the same point for the last month. There was no need to rehash it further.
"I'm so glad you are doing the talking," Harry said nervously.
Hermione stifled a laugh. "If the Prophet could see you now. The Chosen One, afraid of his girlfriend's parents."
"It's more complicated than that," he protested feebly, "but yeah, mostly that."
"Just remember Mum is like me. She may get a bit upset and forceful but that's just how she expresses herself. Dad actually gets calmer when things are stressful…drives Mum and me crazy…"
"I like him already," Harry joked as they quietly made their way to the front door. "So they know to stay outside-"
"Until I come fetch them. We're going the forceful route with your cousin, right?" she asked before quietly casting Alohomora and entering the house.
"Wouldn't want to keep your parents waiting would we?" Harry asked with a grin as he pulled off the cloak. "Dudley!" he yelled. "Are you here?"
"Harry? What's going on-"
Dudley stopped talking immediately once he reached the top of the stairs, most likely because she had aimed her wand directly at him and was doing her best to look menacing.
"This is Hermione. She is my girlfriend. She is going to be staying here with me and is legally allowed to perform magic. Understand?"
She did her best not to laugh at Dudley's nervous gulp and nod.
"Great! We're going to be using the kitchen for the next hour. You can either stay in your room or leave. But the clock is running so you need to decide now!"
Dudley's eyes never left her wand as he pointed toward his room and slowly retreated out of sight.
Thirty minutes later they had explained as much as they could to her parents…her mother had begun pacing the floor a few minutes prior while her father remained still, staring at his hands as he considered what had been shared.
"So you're giving us two options: Sell the practice and move under assumed names and you'll remove every memory we have of-
"Not remove," Hermione interjected, "just hide. Temporarily."
"As I was saying," her mother continued, "and option two is we stay here and no-one else will know you are our daughter. It will be a secret like the house you stayed in over the summer."
"Right," Harry replied, "the only risk with the Fidelius would be if the Secret Keeper, that's me, tells someone."
"And what happens if one of you were to die?"
"If the Secret Keeper dies then that status passes to anyone else magical who knows the secret," Hermione supplied. "So it would pass to me."
"And if you died as well?"
Harry took over once again. "If we both die then there would be no-one left with magic that knew the secret. Hermione's theory is that the secret would end immediately. Everyone would remember…all public records would be restored…it would no longer be a secret."
"So you're saying the way we'll find out you've died is if a neighbor asks us what you are up to, because everyone will remember you."
"Something like that...yes," Hermione replied sadly. She couldn't think of a worse way to find out that a loved one had passed.
"If that happens you should leave England as soon as possible."
Her parents ignored her suggestion. Clearly their fate was the furthest thing from their mind at that point.
"So ultimately we'd be putting our trust in you," her father observed out loud after several moments of uncomfortable silence.
"Yes," Harry answered nervously, "but I swear sir I would never-"
Harry didn't have the chance to finish his thought as her mother interrupted. "Harry, you don't need to convince us. We have six years worth of letters and summers with Hermione making a pretty strong case for your character."
She sagged back into her chair, all of her previous fire now gone. "Besides, it doesn't really matter what we say does it? We're just helpless muggles after all."
"Mum," Hermione began before realizing she had no adequate reply.
"Jane and I expected we'd be having this sort of conversation today. We'll be going with Option Two," her father chimed in quietly. "I assume we need to do it straightaway?" he asked as he grasped his wife's hand for support.
Hermione knew it was a fruitless effort but decided to make one more attempt.
"You should still consider moving off the continent," she suggested hopefully. "The distance would provide a bit more protection in addition to the Fidelius. America specifically has some really nice areas where the demand for dentists-"
"Janey," he interrupted kindly, "do you remember what I said to you at Christmas? You and Harry would never turn tail and run. We aren't going anywhere. And we aren't interested in hiding our memories of you."
After several more moments of uncomfortable silence her mother plowed forward. "Let's get this spell over with so I can properly start saying goodbye."
Five minutes later the spell had been cast and the 'secret' had been shared with her parents. Only four people in the world now knew that Hermione was the daughter of David and Jane Granger.
"There is one other thing we need to discuss," Hermione said after the tearful hugs had been shared, knowing they may never see each other again. "I need you to take care of Crooks," she requested.
"Now you're asking too much," her father joked, drawing a discontented mewl from his new housemate.
August 1, 1997
"The Ministry has fallen. Scrimgeour is dead."
As the lynx Patronus disappeared from sight she felt Harry grab her hand. One more pillar of their support was gone. The pillar had been tenuous and the support had been brief but it had borne one particularly large piece of fruit.
"At least they helped us with the cup," Harry muttered as he tried to not look concerned. He was truly awful at pretending not to be concerned.
"It's going to be fine," Hermione falsely reassured. It was a horrible effort on her part.
October 30, 1997
Hermione stared at the coin in her hand, not quite believing the message it delivered. It was really happening.
We think we found one. Rowena Ravenclaw had a diadem and we found it in the Room of Requirement thanks to Luna and Dobby. It feels just like you described. Let me know when you'll be coming so Abe will know to expect you.
Within seconds she heard Harry and Ron bounding into the room. Apparently they'd read the message as well.
"We've really done it," Ron observed. "Suppose we go through with the next part. Can we trust him to come through?"
"Dumbledore trusts him and he knows we've been holed up in Grimmauld. He could have given us up by now but he didn't," Harry replied. "What do you think, Hermione?"
Hermione knew exactly what she thought. She'd had almost six months to come up with a better plan than Harry's ridiculous idea but had come up short. His was so simple and logical but, unfortunately, put him at risk. She'd listened to his own parents try to talk him out of his idea (twice!) but their arguments had been solely based on emotion. Logically, unemotionally, she knew Harry's idea made the most sense to ensure victory.
She thought once again about the most illogical part of this illogical and constantly evolving order of events, the prophecy given by that old bat so many years ago. It was irrational to believe that she was part of the neither but she clung to that belief as a life line.
Hermione pondered Snape and his loyalties for what felt like the millionth time in the last year. Once again the same overriding thought poked through; despite his failings and trust issues their former headmaster seemed to be keenly aware of whom to put his faith in. His belief in Harry was tangible proof.
She let her logical brain reply before she could let her irrational heart talk her out of it. "We've come this far and I haven't been able to sort out a solution. Harry's right."
"When do you reckon?" Ron asked.
"Tomorrow," Harry answered immediately. "Tomorrow we go to Hogwarts and end this."
Thirty minutes later they had gone over the plan three more times: go to Hogwarts, destroy the diadem, and send the signal to Snape. Then once Snape, hopefully, did his part, they would follow Harry's stupid plan.
"I'll let the Order know," Ron supplied before exiting the room. It was an awfully transparent excuse to give them a bit of privacy but she appreciated the effort nonetheless.
As the seconds dragged on and the silence became more and more oppressive the thing that she'd denied for months, the thing that she forced herself not to think about in front of Harry, hit her in full force. She felt the tears begin to slide down her face but this time she had neither the will nor the resolve to stop them. Hermione felt Harry's arms wrap around her and any of her remaining resolve crumbled. She wasn't sure how long they stood there in that room crying…but it had felt good…long overdue.
"You know what day tomorrow is," she mumbled into his shoulder.
"Yeah," he answered softly, "I reckon it's just a day though…and I'd like to have another good memory associated with it."
"Another?" she asked.
"First year," he continued, "I helped this overbearing girl in my year. She's kept me sorted since then. Best day of my life actually…"
She wasn't sure how she managed it but she buried herself in even further.
Hermione could feel Harry playing with her hair. "We can wait if you want to...try to come up with a different plan. If you don't think you can do your part-"
"It's decided," she interrupted forcefully. The task on her shoulders was the least of her concerns. "Tomorrow."
October 31, 1997
"The snake is dead," the doe Patronus proclaimed before quickly fading away. Snape had played his part. There was only one Horcrux remaining.
Voldemort had responded just as Dumbledore had predicted, descending on Hogwarts based on Snape's summons, preying on Harry's selflessness to sacrifice himself on behalf of his friends…to do the right thing. It was all so predictable.
She tapped out a message to Ron, doing her best to quell the shaking of her wand.
We're going. Make sure you're ready and don't worry about us. Just finish them.
As they made their way to the forest under the cloak Hermione willed her feet to keep moving forward, mentally repeating the mantra in her head as motivation to not turn tail and run with Harry.
Neither can live while the other survives.
She kept walking…kept moving forward…they were so close now. As they neared the clearing where Voldemort had summoned them she felt a tug on her hand. She steeled herself and turned to look at Harry.
Harry took the fabled wand out of his mokeskin pouch and placed it softly into her waiting hand. She felt a surge of something pulse through her body and reflexively gripped the wand tighter. It belonged to her now…both of them most likely. She was sure Ollivander would patiently explain how such a thing wasn't possible but she wasn't interested. They were the Neither, they were the Masters of Death, and they were going to fulfill the prophecy.
"Hermione-" he began before she abruptly cut him off. He'd promised
"Don't say it," she commanded. "Don't say goodbye. This isn't goodbye."
Harry looked like he wanted to continue but held his tongue, opting instead to settle on a muted nod of agreement.
"It's going to work, Hermione," he stated instead. "They always forget about you…take you for granted. It's going to work."
The damned tears had started forming once again but she quickly brushed them away. She'd allowed herself to cry in Harry's arms last night but now was not the time. It was time to end it. All of it.
"I love you," she whispered as he left the safety of the invisibility cloak.
"Me too," he replied softly as he continued walking forward.
She trailed behind him, stopping only when they reached the clearing. As all eyes immediately became pinned to Harry she realized that he had been right. Whether it was the remarkable magic woven into the invisibility cloak or they had simply underestimated her, they had no clue she was there.
Hermione watched and listened as they taunted and laughed at him, wholly unaware or unconcerned that Harry had purposely positioned himself upwind. They were merciless and cruel in their taunts before Voldemort ordered them to quiet. She'd expected to be terrified when she'd finally come face to face with the dark lord but the opposite had occurred. He seemed slightly pathetic…thoroughly desperate to enforce to his followers that he could not be destroyed.
She felt the wand in her hand stir to life, imploring her to act, to fulfill its destiny...to fulfill their destiny. Soon, she silently mused.
It took all of her willpower not to scream as Harry was struck with the killing curse. She had to focus…she'd promised Harry that she would focus. Once she'd done her part then she could check on Harry, and he would be alive. The Horcrux would be gone and Harry would live. Neither could live while the other survived. She was sure of it.
Her heart surged as she looked back toward the Death Eaters and saw them now huddled around Voldemort's lifeless body. Whether it was the blood protection or backlash from the Horcrux being destroyed Voldemort had clearly been affected...knocked unconscious at the very least. This was her chance.
She quickly made her way over to Harry, positioning herself between his prone form and Voldemort's army, all huddled around him. All panicked. All downwind. She quickly cast a myriad of protections charms on Harry's body, purposely trying to avoid looking at his face.
Once the task was finished she turned and faced her enemy. She couldn't actually see Voldemort due to the throng of supporters that now surrounded him, but that was fine. They'd chosen their path. She'd had months…years even…to reconcile what she was about to do.
In addition to her fruitless efforts to devise a different strategy, Hermione had spent the last few months studying anything and everything she could get her hands on about the spell she was about to cast. Books from Grimmauld, Knockturn Alley, from McGonagall and Flitwick, even from Xenophilius Lovegood. But as much reading as she'd done, as much as she'd studied and analyzed, it was Bellatrix Lestrange's simple instruction to Harry in the Department of Mysteries that had resonated the most.
With dark magic, destructive magic, in the end there was really only one component necessary. There was a reason it was so seductive…if the key component was present the casting became easy. It was hard to simulate it in her training but right now…in this moment…with what was at stake…whose lives were at stake…it was virtually seeping out of her pores.
You simply had to mean it.
The affect was immediate and all consuming, engulfing the nearby Death Eaters and forcing the rest into retreat as the fire continued to seek out its targets. Whether Voldemort had been alive was now irrelevant as his body was now ash.
Hermione desperately wanted to stop and check on Harry but she forced herself to move forward…to keep pushing the panicked throng toward her waiting allies. She felt the wand urging her on…to be more aggressive…to consume and destroy any and every enemy possible. But containment was now the plan. Containment and capture.
Hermione could hear and see the spell fire that was being blindly fired at her but kept moving forward. They had agreed that she would stop pushing when she was seriously injured, to retreat to safety under the cloak. But whether it was her own shield, or pure luck, she remained unscathed. Her heart was screaming at her to check on Harry but she kept moving. The job wasn't finished and she promised Harry she would keep going.
Hermione could feel herself weakening now…the power of the spell and her desire to see Harry were beginning to have an affect. She heard muffled shouting and realized it was her allies…she had successfully led the remaining horde of enemies into the trap. She was so hot…and so tired…she just wanted Harry. Only Harry…
And suddenly she felt a ruffle of the cloak and he was there…pressed into her back and his hand over hers on the wand…now powering the spell on her behalf. He was alive…he was alive and they were the Masters of Death and she had finished her task just like she promised. And he had come back…just like he promised.
She let go of the wand and turned, latching onto her lifeline. She felt Harry's free arm wrap around her waist and she let go…truly let go. "You're alive," she mumbled as she buried herself into the small of his shoulder.
"I'm alive," he repeated..
January 5, 1998
Hermione was exhausted. She'd spent the entire last month worrying and thinking over all the bits and pieces that could go sideways today, and so many things had gone sideways.
She'd had so little time to plan, and there were so many new dynamics and variables in play, she knew from the off that her hopes for perfect execution were slim to none. And all things considered, it had gone pretty well. As well as could be expected, but that was mainly thanks to-
"Finally!" Harry exclaimed as they entered the shared dormitories of the Hogwarts Head Boy and Girl.
She let out a discontented sigh as she entered her room and realized her trunk was nowhere to be found. It had been an extremely long, extremely frantic, and extremely annoying day…and she desperately needed to get out of her uniform. The one benefit of being in hiding was getting to wear ridiculously comfortable clothes all the time. Having to wear the Hogwarts uniform once again had been bordering on soul crushing.
"Ranty!" she called into the ether, eternally grateful as the elf popped into the room.
"Miss Granger be needing something?" Ranty asked impatiently. "Ranty is very busy with new students going to the wrong places!"
"I was just wondering if someone could help find my trunk? It seems to have been waylaid. Maybe in the Gryffindor dormitory? I'd go look myself but it's been a very long day and-"
Before she could finish her sentence the diminutive elf had grabbed her hand and forcibly pulled her out of the room.
"Miss Granger's trunk is in the room where she will be sleeping!" she informed, pointing to Harry's room. "We elves is not stupid!" she declared before popping out of sight.
Any awkwardness caused by the revelation that the elves truly did know everything that happened within the castle walls was quickly shushed away. She needed to get out of this infernal uniform.
She found Harry in his room, halfway through shedding himself of their awful, constricting garments. Hermione sighed wistfully as she watched her boyfriend pull on one of his new jumpers.
"Looks like the elves are onto us," he joked, gesturing toward her trunk.
"Ranty just informed me. Are we that obvious?" she asked as she quickly set to work.
Harry shrugged. "I'm just glad we don't have to sneak around."
"Me too," she exclaimed as she threw on one of Harry's unfairly comfortable Quidditch jerseys. All was right with the world once again. She couldn't wait until she could start stealing some of Harry's new clothes.
Ten minutes later she re-entered their common room, a stack of books in her arms. Hermione wasn't sure what she wanted to start working on and she wanted to minimize having to leave Harry's side as much as possible. Having multiple options within arms reach seemed like the most prudent solution.
Her arms were piled so high with options and her mind so preoccupied that she hadn't realized how familiar the couch seemed before actually taking a seat beside Harry.
"Harry, I think this is couch from the Gryffindor common room," she informed.
"Yeah," he commented casually. "I asked McGonagall if we could have it moved here."
"When did you ask her that?" she asked, as she buried herself into his side and smiled. It truly was their couch now.
"When she asked me to be Head Boy," he answered. He draped his arm around her shoulder and pulled her in closer.
"We could ask for things?" she continued. None of the information the headmistress provided said anything about being able to ask for things.
She felt Harry' shrug an answer before letting out a tired sigh. "I know we need to start getting caught up but I'm beat," he informed as he closed his eyes. It was clear that he would not be joining her study session that evening.
Hermione pondered the books sitting beside her. Their end of year NEWTS had been pushed back to mid August to accommodate for the shortened academic calendar but she needed to get cracking. It was important to set the tone from the off and the last thing she could afford to do would be to fall into bad habits.
Before she could decide where to begin Crookshanks jumped onto her lap. She decided she could wait a few minutes to begin. Her kneazle had been cooped up here alone since the train ride and the least she could do was give him a bit of attention.
Hermione had meant to move her kneazle to the open space beside her and get to work at some point. That's what she'd meant to do. But before she could manage it she'd reflexively begun scratching Crookshanks in the spot that always elicited a purr. And as the seconds ticked by... as she stared into the fire…and buried herself a bit more into the small of Harry's shoulder where she knew she fit perfectly…her plans for the evening changed.
Her NEWT scores would undoubtedly suffer but it was time to face facts. Tonight would be the first night off of the year with many more to come.