Keep Your Enemies Closer

by juxtaposed

The battles keep getting bigger, the losses more profound. When the ultimate loss happens, everything changes. Everyone changes. Harry and Ginny now find themselves dealing with an old friend - and a new enemy. But how do you defend yourself against someone who knows everything about you? Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.


Hermione reminisces. Harry has mental arguments. Ginny just has issues.

Disclaimer: Standard disclaimer applies, blah blah blah; I don't own anything or anyone you recognize. Unless, of course, you recognize something or someone I do. No lawsuits or paperwork, please.

Chapter One: The Prologue-y Teaser-Style Beginning to this Story.

The night air was cool across her face, and she closed her eyes as a gentle breeze wafted past her. It seemed to be an unusually silent night, but if she tried, she could hear snatches of life in the wind - stray animals seeking food; crickets chirping their odd little songs; the occasional rumble of engines as cars made their way down the empty streets; laughter and hushed conversations from the few people actually around. She sighed inwardly as she kept moving, strolling along the sidewalk trying to seem inconspicuous. She missed times like that, when she could just sit and talk and laugh and cry and just be with someone. It had been a long time since she had been able to.

Hermione Granger had not ever really been one for reminiscing, but on that cool summer night, she found herself thinking back to a few years ago, when she had last had heartwarming conversations with people whom she had cared about, and who had cared about her. It had been one of the most poignant and lovely moments in her young life. She was seventeen, she was the top student in school, she had wonderful friends and a loving was truly some of the best years of her life. Well, except for the way-too-frequent confrontations with what had been the most-feared figure in the wizarding world. That was not so much fun.

But things were different now.

Now...she no longer feared Voldemort. It was funny, in a cruel and ironic way, that what Voldemort had thought would break her had ultimately turned out to be what made her realize he was nothing to be afraid of. In fact, to her, he was just nothing. He was all smoke and mirrors to her, a shell of a man hiding behind wickedness (and badly disguised reanimated corpses) to intimidate others. Sure, he was capable of some truly horrific things, but more often than not, he had lackeys carry them out. He simply didn't have the strength - or an actual body - to pull off the mass massacres he so loved, and instead saved his energy. He - rather cleverly, she grudgingly admitted to herself - only personally inflicted suffering onto his own loyal followers, to drum up fear and obedience. And out of lack of any choice, he also had to face his nemeses in person - or in spirit or mind, as the case had occasionally turned out to be.

More often than not, the most prominent among said nemeses had been one Harry Potter, deemed to be either the savior or downfall of the wizarding world. His fate had been to swing the balance, but to which way, no one knew. Sure, Harry fought evil, on the side of good, but was it really in his destiny to destroy the Dark Lord? Or would it be his destiny to have the Dark Lord destroy him? They had been locked in stalemates for eight years, the first seven of which was the duration of Harry's education. Then, in the eighth year, when he had left school, the biggest showdown yet had occurred. Hundreds were killed, even more were injured, yet even more lives were ruined. And yet again, there was no clear winner. For Harry had triumphed over Voldemort, but not killed him in time.  And the crux of the matter was that he had to be dead before Harry could ever truly be the sole winner. It was tedious, and really annoying, but that was the way the prophecy had read. Only one of them could survive. And well, between murderous force of evil and (for the most part) pure-hearted innocent, it wasn't really a tough choice.

Unless, of course, one was a Death Eater, also known as another one of mindless puritan sheep, the ubiquitous prejudicio idiotus species. Then, she supposed, it was more a matter of getting psychiatric help than anything else, really. Or, well, obliterating them. And since she figured it was easier to kill an evil wizard than it was to convince one to get therapy (especially with so few magical psychiatrists around)...

Not that killing them was particularly easy, of course, but she was easily one of the most powerful forces of magick the wizarding world had had to reckon with for a long while. It was funny, again in a cruel and ironic way, that some of the most powerful wizards - and witch - in history, were all in the same era. It used to be an odd superstar, like Merlin. Now, there was Voldemort, Harry, Hermione, Dumbledore...

Dumbledore. Another one of Voldemort's greatest nemeses. Considered far and wide to be one of the most powerful wizards ever, with the wisdom (most of the time, anyhow), courage, oddly placed humor and suspiciously well-timed foreknowledge to boot, he was the one who had faced Voldemort and kept him at bay. It was said he was the only one Voldemort had ever truly been afraid of - until that terrible prophecy had come about, Harry had been born and not only thwarted him, but destroyed what was left of his physical self. Then Harry had become the focus. The one Voldemort really had to watch, and watch out for. And since Harry developed his magick, he was the only one Voldemort cared about. Dumbledore was just a player; Harry was the win. And so it had been, for eight years, the fated fight between good and evil dragged out.

Who knew Hermione was a key to the game?

She had always been a smart girl, sure. The smartest in all her classes, and always the first to get new spells done correctly. And while at first her academic success was mostly due to the infinite hours of study she clocked, slowly but surely her powers began to develop and grow, until it was simply natural for her to pick up on spells fast and perform them hitchlessly. Of course, she still studied as hard as ever, but she could always feel the difference, in the effort it took for her to cast any magick at all. It used to take laboured focus and intense concentration, but eventually all it took was the knowledge and her slightest will, and it was done. No one really spotted the difference, her teachers simply expected excellence from her. Her friends did too, and they knew of her odd love for studying. But she could always feel it. She was different, she was changing. No, not her, she mentally corrected herself. Her powers. They were building up inside her, just waiting for the day they would be released onto the world...

And then one day they had.

AN: Reposting, because my formats were all screwed up. Review and let me know how this was, thanks! Cookies if you do. No, I'm not above bribery. ;)