"You have my permission to do whatever is necessary, to end this war," Dumbledore told her solemnly. He'd never looked so old than he did now in her eyes.
Hermione nodded, trying to keep the tea cup from shaking in her nervous hands. He was putting a great deal of faith in her, and it was a bit hard to swallow all at once. Nodding once more, resolutely, she set her tea back on the desk and set her jaw firmly. "I won't let you down, sir."
He smiled faintly, but it was a ghost of the real thing. "You are a bright young witch, Miss Granger. I would have not given you this task if I did not have faith that you would do everything you could to aide the resistance."
Hermione stood, bowing her head in respect. "Thank you, sir."
His voice stopped her just before she passed through the door. "Miss Granger?" She turned around.
He looked solemn again, hands clasped firmly on top of the desk. Neither of them had touched their tea. "Whatever is necessary..." he repeated.
She swallowed slowly, and wondered what exactly Dumbledore thought she was capable of.
Six months later...
Hermione ran towards them, her satchel flapping heavily behind her as she sprinted down the platform, her trunk and suitcases levitating beside her. The two boys in question looked up from the parchment they were pouring over at the sound of their names. Upon seeing the rampaging witch, they both broke out in identically goofy grins.
"'Mione!" They called, just before the brunette whirlwind collided with them. She hugged them both fiercely around their necks and they all laughed in amusement as they stumbled in a drunken looking heap around the train platform.
"Crikey, Hermione," Ron teased. "It's only been a week since you were at the Burrow."
"It's felt like ages," she confessed, brushing wayward bushy curls from her eyes. Her cheeks were flushed from running and she rubbed at them to try and return a semblance of normal color to them.
"Ron and I were just going over the Aureus Prophecy—"
Hermione's groan cut Harry off, and he looked up from shoving her trunks into the train's underbelly. "You aren't still going on about that, are you?" She demanded. "It's a joke."
"You're the one who brought it to us in the first place," Harry reminded her.
"Obviously a phenomenal mistake," she protested. "I thought you two would find it funny. Who knew for once in your lives you'd take something seriously."
Ron reached over and ruffled the top of her head, sending her already disorderly hair into complete disarray. "Aww...we love you too, 'Mione."
She glared at him, and he folded up the parchment he and Harry had been looking at earlier before tucking it into an inner pocket of his jacket. "There," he said.
"Forget about it," she insisted waving her arms around. "I've got something so much more important to show you," she exclaimed, her earlier excitement returning.
Wasting no time for explanation, she grabbed a hold of the guard rail and swung herself up into the train, disappearing around the corner with Harry and Ron right on her tail. She didn't even bother checking the compartments, but headed straight down to the very last one of the corridor. She slid the door open and waited for Harry and Ron to follow her in before shutting it again.
"Harry, will you lock it, please?"
He nodded and fished his wand out of the back pocket of his jeans. He muttered several charms that briefly illuminated the room before absorbing into the doorways. When he finished, Hermione's wand appeared from the sleeve of her jumper and she cast one last spell for good measure.
"We've definitely had a bad influence on 'er," Ron commented with a shake of his head. She shot him a look.
"So what's with all the extra security?" Harry asked, leaning forward anxiously in his seat.
"I'm getting to that," Hermione huffed with the effort of tugging a large, and most likely heavy, tome out of her satchel. With a frustrated breath she blew her bangs up and out of her eyes, dropping the book into her lap and opening it up to a previously marked page.
"I've found it!" She told them breathlessly. She turned the dusty volume so they could read the ancient text.
Harry squinted throw his glasses to read the faint symbols inked onto the yellowing parchment. It obviously wasn't in his native tongue. "It's not in English or Latin," he said. "I can't read it."
Hermione sighed, obviously put out. "Didn't you learn anything I told you to?" She asked.
"It's not Hebrew or Arabic, either," Ron commented a bit quietly. Harry looked at him in surprise, but Hermione was beaming with pride. So much, in fact, that she gave Harry a good solid punch in the arm.
"Someone does what I tell them too," she scolded him.
Harry rubbed his shoulder ruefully where she'd hit him. "Ow, Hermione. Have you been working out?"
She turned up her nose at him, all of them having completely forgotten the book. "Of course I have. We are in a war, aren't we?"
Both boys guffawed loudly. "Our little Hermione's getting all buff!" Harry crowed, while Ron tried to push up the sleeve of her white jumper. "Let's see your guns," he taunted.
"Get off of me!" She exclaimed, trying to fend them both off with kicks and slapping hands.
Ron was climbing all over the seats trying to get her to show him her biceps, while Harry attempted to goad her into a fight. It was all completely ridiculous, and Hermione was bold enough to say so.
"This is ridiculous!" She shouted, scowling at them both. But she wasn't able to keep up the serious face under Harry's barrage of humorous taunts.
"Come on little girl!" He said, pushing her in the shoulder. "Put up your dukes," He held up both fists in the air, like they were about to engage in some old fashioned boxing.
"You have the courage of a wet noodle, and the bravery of a hippopotamus."
All of this was said in a very nasally, and pompous welsh accent.
"You sound like an arse," Ron sniggered, and Hermione used the opportunity to shove him back into his seat.
"You're both idiots," she said firmly, pushing Harry back down as well with her foot.
"I know for a fact, that the two of you were working out this summer too, so stop giving me a hard time."
"We did what we could," Ron admitted. "Whenever we had a break from your bloody intense training camp."
Hermione flushed, "It wasn't that bad," she said defensively.
"You were worse than McGonagall," Harry informed her. He was awarded with another thorough punch on the arm.
"Bloody hell!" Ron swore. "You need to lighten up on him, 'Mione, or there'll be nothing left for Voldemort."
She laughed and Harry did too. "Now...about this book," he said.
Hermione smacked her forehead. "I forgot!" She exclaimed. "You two truly are a terrible influence on me," she told them, pulling the book back into her lap from where it had fallen onto the compartment seat during the trio's tussle.
Taking a deep breath, she went into what Ron and Harry and affectionately called her "lecture mode".
"These," she began, placing her palms down against the well worn cover. "Are the Tempus Infractus Scrolls."
Ron's face clearly showed his wonderment, "How did you get 'em out of the castle?"
She grinned proudly, "Magic."
"I hope you didn't have to do anything illegal, Hermione," Harry told her seriously.
She studiously ignored him and flipped the book back open to the marked page. "We looked at the scrolls before, but they were written in a language we didn't know so we skipped over it. I was looking back over it just before term ended last year and this design," she tapped the opposite page. "caught my eye."
"Did you get it translated?" Ron asked, curious.
She nodded and began rooting around in her bag for a packet of parchments. "Turns out they were written in a hybrid language – a cross between Sumerian and prehistoric Latin. It took me all summer, but I got it all translated. I sent it off in pieces to different contacts that I trust, and together we've gotten it as close as if it were written in English."
Ron and Harry both bent over the translation; Harry's brow furrowed and Ron looking ridiculous as he mouthed the words silently to himself.
He stopped about halfway down. "This looks like some sort of incantation," he said rather perplexed.
Hermione nodded. "It is," she said matter-of-factly. "It's ancient ritual magick, and probably hasn't been used since the scrolls were written."
"Hermione!" Harry exclaimed. "This is dangerous!"
She shook her head confidently. "I can handle it, Harry. I've been practicing ritual magick since I got to Hogwarts. Besides, everything we did this summer has made me a lot stronger."
"What's all this "I' and "me" business?" Ron cut in. "You're not doing this by yourself."
"Don't be ridiculous, Ron, I'm perfectly capable..."
"This is Dark arts, Hermione," Harry told her, forcefully. "You know I'm better at this than you."
"You don't know the first thing about ritual magick," she shot back.
"Hermione..." Ron hushed, for once being the mediator of the three.
"No!" She said loudly. "I'm not letting either of you get in trouble!"
There was nothing but silence.
"Trouble?" Harry finally said. "Hermione..."
"Have you gone to Dumbledore yet?" Ron said, picking up where his friend had left off.
Hermione sighed. This wasn't going at all well, and she had a pounding headache now to prove it. "He told me to do "whatever was necessary"—"
"Yes, Hermione, we know!" Ron exclaimed in exasperation.
"He doesn't want me to tell him!" She shouted. She took a slow breath in the quiet that followed. "Don't you see? He can't do it himself, but he can turn a blind eye to me. As long as he knows nothing of what I'm doing he won't be forced to put a stop to it."
"Bloody hell..." Ron breathed.
Hermione sighed. "Tell me about it."
"This is all just one big conspiracy isn't it..." Harry commented with little humor in his voice. He sighed as well. "Do you even know what this spell does?"
Hermione flipped back a page and handed him the corresponding translation. He read through it wordlessly, and when he was finished he spoke with a strained, nearly breathlessly voice.
"Hermione..." he said slowly as if trying to impress the weight of his words upon her. "Do you have any idea what kind of trouble this could get you into..."
She nodded. "Azkaban, or worse..." she tried not to sound too pessimistic, but the situation didn't help any. "That's why I'm doing this alone."
Too quickly the mood had gone from cheery and excited to solemn quietness. There was a crinkling of paper as Ron set the translation back upon the book. He'd read it too. "Do you think Dumbledore will be able to get you out?" His question was quiet.
Suddenly, Hermione didn't think this was such a good idea. She was having doubts...
"I don't know," she told him truthfully. "If he claims responsibility for my actions, then the Ministry and everyone will know that he didn't do anything to stop it from happening. If he doesn't..." She shrugged. "Someone else will take my place and I'll be sent to Azkaban."
"I don't see how you can be so calm about this," Harry said tightly. She didn't know how he was doing it either.
"There aren't any other options," she replied. Her hands curled into fists and she slammed them down onto the book. "I know this is right! This is it!"
Another prolonged silence...
"This sucks," Ron said finally, when all hopes of dissuading Hermione had failed. Hermione couldn't agree more.
Just when it seemed they would be spending the rest of the train ride to Hogwarts in tense silence, she cleared her throat and smiled softly. "Let's take one last look at that Aureus Prophecy..."
Harry chuckled, and Ron pulled the parchment from his jacket pocket with a wide grin. He spread it out over the compartment seat and the three friends spent the last hour bent over the single parchment, their head pressed together, deep in discussion all thoughts of Hermione's plan pushed to the back of their minds.