A/N: I own none of this.
Chapter 1: The choice
"Ugh!" Hermione grunted as she marched down the hall with a first year Gryffindor.
As Head Girl she had the responsibility of taking anyone out of bed past hours to their head of house. She didn't relish this part of her duties because it took time from her sleep schedule. Yes rounds she hated, no she loathed rounds.
"I can't believe this Jenkins! Didn't I already catch you out once this week? You are not allowed out of bed!" Hermione yelled at the poor boy. "Don't ever let me catch you out after curfew again."
The two Gryffindors marched down the hall and stopped in front of a wizened wizard in a pink robe and a clashing orange hat.
"Snidget!" Hermione shouted so as to wake up the wizard and gain entrance to the room the portrait housed.
The wizard only mumbled and rolled over onto the opposite side of the frame. Annoyed Hermione poked the sleeping man to rouse him. With a start the man sat strait up in his frame wide awake.
"Thank you." Hermione said with sarcasm. "Snidget!"
The portrait swung open to reveal an office. It was nicely furnished with an oak desk and three matching chairs, one behind and two in front of the desk. On the walls were several pictures, most of them were landscapes of forests or mountain lakes. The windows were framed by thick red velvet drapes with a gold trim.
Behind the handsome desk sat a stern woman with her hair pulled back into a tight bun. She was wearing a gold dressing robe and had her hands folded neatly on her desk.
"Professor," Hermione started, "I found Arnold in the corridor leading to the charms hallway."
"Thank you Miss Granger," Professor McGonagall said turning to Hermione, "You may return to your rounds. I will deal with Mr. Jenkins."
"Thank you Professor." With that Hermione turned and left the room. After she stepped out of the portrait she decided to return to where she had been before discovering Arnold. As she walked down the seemingly endless corridors she let her mind wander.
Harry and Ginny really do make a good couple. I only wish that they could be together… Harry is doing much better than he was in potions. Maybe he will pass his NEWTs in the spring…
Her mind kept wandering in endless circles around the famous Harry Potter. She was proud of her best friend because he decided to finish his seventh year so he could become an auror. He was trying his hardest in everything and she could tell. Her friend was finally maturing and thinking about his future instead of blindly following what he knew he had to do.
As she turned down the hallway leading to the library her thoughts turned to Ron. He wasn't doing as well as Harry. She would have hoped that by their seventh year Ron would have gotten serious about school, but sadly he hadn't. She still had to help him with most of his homework, though she only gave him a prod in the right direction. She never actually did his homework for him.
Recently Ron had been acting weird around her. He would rarely speak to her and when he would he would blush profusely. She saw him hanging around with the first and second years more often, bragging about his Quidditch skills. He always seemed to glance her way to see if she were listening. She knew he liked her but she didn't remotely return the feeling. He was a brother and a best friend, but that was all. She wished that he would realize that and return to normal.
She was thinking about how to turn him down gently when she heard whispers coming from an empty classroom. She looked around to see where she was and found that she had wandered into an unused portion of the castle. The voices were no more than whispers even when Hermione got to the slightly ajar door. Her eyes grew wide when she recognized the deadly whisper and the venomous snarls that followed them. She had decided to leave but then caught a part of the conversation.
"The Dark Lord will have his recruits you can be sure of that, you must be patient." The smooth and deadly whisper came.
"You are out of time Severus, you have failed." said a silky man's voice.
Hermione gasped. She knew that voice! What was Lucius Malfoy doing here?
"The Dark Lord will not tolerate failures Severus, I suggest you recruit a new member by the end of the week or face our master's displeasure.
"Believe me Malfoy you will have your recruit I am already working on two students that have expressed their desire to know more."
Lucius raised his delicate eyebrow.
"Have you Severus? Well maybe you won't be such a disgrace to our cause after all. You are starting to be useful. Goodness knows you never help with the real work. You stay locked in your dungeon, safe, while the rest of us risk our lives in the fight." Lucius drawled.
"You will not talk to me that way Lucius You know damn well that I do more for HIM than you do. So it would be wise to keep you mouth shut before I get angry." Snape said in his most venomous whisper.
Hermione was shocked by what she heard. Snape was recruiting students? Did Dumbledore know? And how was Lucius in the school?
She was still halfway through her last thought when she heard footsteps from behind the door. She looked around to see where she could hide but there wasn't even a suit of armor in the hallway.
"Great you just had to pick the only hallway in the whole freaking castle with nothing to hide behind." Hermione admonished herself.
She was just about to make a run for it when the door swung open to a red faced Malfoy and a pale as ever Snape. Hermione froze in her tracks. She watched as a scowl appeared on Malfoy's face. She was surprised at the slight widening of Snape's eyes and the flash of astonishment before he concealed them both. Not a second after she saw the two she was forced against the wall and had a wand pointed at her chest by the blonde Slytherin
"What are you doing here mudblood?" Malfoy asked icily.
"I…" Hermione began but she was cut off by her potions master.
"She, Mr. Malfoy, is here by my asking."
Hermione's jaw nearly dropped when he said this, but she kept her composure and put on a face that she hoped to God confirmed what Snape had just said.
"Now if you please drop your wand and follow me you will understand why she is here.
Malfoy reluctantly lowered his wand and narrowed his eyes as he followed Hermione in to the once again occupied room.
"Now Mr. Malfoy I have asked Miss Granger here because she has been inquiring about service to the Dark Lord. She was to have been here earlier." He said pausing to give her a look that would have sent a fifth year running from the room in tears.
"How can she be loyal?! She is a mudblood, a friend of Potters, and up until now been against everything to do with dark magic! She cannot be trusted."
"There is where you lack Lucius. You do not open your mind to the possibility and therefore don't see it's potential. I have already tested her loyalty. She will not stray. Her ability to perform as a spy has potential; she could be an invaluable commodity."
"She could be lying to you! How do you know she isn't trying to get in so as to help Dumbledore? She is friends with Potter for crying out loud!"
"While being friends with Potter has rubbed off some reckless tendencies it has not afflicted her ability to lie to me. She is loyal. The end."
"I want proof that she is loyal! Not just your word."
"I," Hermione started with a frightened quality to her voice, "am loyal. I want to learn the Dark Arts and I want to help the Dark Lord rule the wizarding world."
"I don't believe you! How did you even learn that you wanted to know more about the Dark Arts?" Lucius spat.
"That was my doing Lucius. I hid a spell book in her things one day before class was over. Then I waited. When she came back to me with the book she expressed her interest in acquiring more knowledge on the subject." Snape said simply. "I Suggest that you leave now Lucius. Your portkey will leave in five minutes. And when you get back please tell our master that I am on the verge of inducting a very valuable member."
"You can't induct her," Malfoy said in a rage, "she is a filthy mudblood!"
"Mudblood she may be but she is a friend of Potters."
Lucius glared at Snape and just when he seemed he was going to explode from anger he turned on his heal and stormed out of the classroom.
When the door was closed and Snape was sure that Lucius was gone he turned to Hermione.
"What," he said with a venomous snarl, "are you doing here Miss Granger?"
"I was doing my rounds when I heard whispers. I thought that they were students that were out past curfew. I'm sorry professor."
"Sorry Miss Granger?" Snape said his face livid. "Sorry is what you will be when you realize what you have done!" Snape snapped. "Follow me and keep up!"
She did as she was told. She wished that this were a nightmare and she would wake up any moment in her head girl's quarters. She had been frightened when Malfoy had attacked her but now she was terrified. She knew that they were headed to the Headmasters office and she did not want to encounter the anger of two of the most powerful wizards in the school on the same night.
She was shaking by the time they reached the stone gargoyle that led to Dumbledore's office.
"Bubble gum." Snape snarled at the statue.
The statue sprang to life and revealed a winding staircase. As soon as Snape set foot on the first stair they began to move upward. But Snape did not stop and let the stairs do the work. He kept walking and sped up his pace. Hermione tried her best to keep up but fell behind, and when she reached the top of the stairs Snape was waiting on her with a look of disgust.
"I told you to keep up!"
With that he knocked on the door and burst in when the Headmaster acknowledged his presence.
"Good evening Severus, Miss Granger." Dumbledore said looking grave because of the livid face of Snape and the clearly distressed countenance of Hermione. "Please have a seat." He gestured to the two seats in front of him.
Hermione gladly slumped into a seat while Snape only smirked and leaned against the handsome fireplace.
"What is the problem Professor?"
"Miss Granger," Snape snarled, "decided to do some snooping while on her rounds tonight and stumbled onto a very private and very dangerous meeting."
"I wasn't snooping! I thought you were a student." Hermione said indignantly. "How as I supposed to know what was going on?"
"Maybe the fact that you were in a very secret and well hidden hallway would have pointed out to your imperceptive brain that it was unlikely that a student would have found their way in to the corridor." Snape said in anger.
"Miss Granger why were you in that hallway?" Dumbledore questioned.
"Sir I don't know how I got there." Hermione said knowing how very childish she sounded. "I wasn't paying attention because I was reviewing notes for the NEWTs."
That was at least partially true. She has been thinking about NEWTs, only Harry's NEWTs.
"I see Miss Granger." Dumbledore said with a sad look in his eye before he turned back to Snape. "Professor how did this encounter end?"
"The only way to save the girl from certain death was to tell Lucius that she had come on my orders."
"And then I concocted a story that made him believe she desired a better understanding and more involved roll in assisting the Dark Lord."
Dumbledore looked crestfallen at Snape's reply.
"Was this the only way?" He asked almost pleadingly.
"Yes sir otherwise she would be dead now."
"Very well Professor."
Dumbledore sat with his hands steepled for several minutes. He seemed to be fighting a battle within himself. Hermione noticed his eyes go from compassionate to fiery and back again.
"What is he thinking? Have I disappointed him so much as to not know what to do with me?" Hermione thought to herself.
Finally after what seemed like an eternity Dumbledore spoke.
"Miss Granger, You are now in a precarious situation. I see only two possible options to follow. I am going to give you a choice but I want you to listen to which each entails before you make your choice. Do you understand?"
"Yes Sir." was Hermione's only reply.
"Good. Now your first option is to go into hiding. I could take you and keep you hidden until the war is over. The downside is that you wouldn't be able to keep up with your studies; you would not graduate with your class. You could have no contact with anyone not even me, and you would have no knowledge of the outside world till the threat had passed."
Hermione's face had stretched into a contorted shock. "How horrible" She thought. "I can't be cooped up like an animal I would die!"
Dumbledore waited until the astonishment receded from Hermione's features before proceeding with his next solution.
"The only other choice would be to join the fight and become a double agent. You would have to risk your life to save everything we have worked for. Hermione this isn't to be taken lightly. I want you to think of what this would entail. You would see horrible things. You would then learn how to do those horrible things and may even have to perform some of them to prove your loyalty. Please think both solutions over tonight. I will call you back in tomorrow for your decision. We will then begin planning."
Hermione's face was white. "Yes sir. I will think them both over."
"Ok child. You may return to your quarters. Please do not make a rash decision. Be sure it is what you want."
"I will sir. Thank you for my choice."
"You're welcome; you may now leave Miss. Granger."
With that Hermione got out of the plush chair and headed toward the portrait.
"Oh and Hermione," Dumbledore said as she reached the door. "I am sure you realize that this subject is better left discussed with no one?"
"Yes Professor." Hermione said as she left the room.
How could this happen? What am I going to do? Oh I can't take this!
"Okay calm down Hermione." Hermione schooled herself. "I can do this I just have to make a good list when I get back to my rooms. I'll make a pro's and con's list for both of them. Hopefully I can make the right decision."
That calmed her down a little bit. Having everything organized made her seem a little more in control over what was happening. Dumbledore was very kind to let her decide how her life was going to change…because it seemed it had to. And speaking of kind, well maybe not so kind, but at least not as harsh, Professor Snape had saved her. And he hadn't yelled at her as much as she thought he would have. Maybe it was because Dumbledore was there but maybe it was because he actually felt sorry for her. Wait what was she thinking? Snape feel sorry? No he probably just didn't want to get into trouble with the headmaster.
As she came up to her door she pulled out her wand and dropped the wards. When she went in she threw her robe over the back of her couch and pulled her hair out of its pony tail. She then kicked off her shoes by the door and grabbed her robe and set it on the chair in her bedroom. She grabbed her dressing robe and headed to the shower. She was going to need to think about everything, and a nice hot shower would help her to relax and concentrate.
About thirty minutes later she came out of the bathroom in her dressing robe and proceeded to her desk. She pulled out two pieces of parchment and wrote her options at the top of them and then made two columns, one labeled pro's on each, and one labeled con's for each.
"Ok so what is good about being locked up?" Hermione asked her self. "Well for one I would be safe, and I wouldn't have to take the dark mark, or do any horrible things. So what's bad? Not getting to finish school or be with my friends certainly. I also couldn't help in any way, I'd feel too much of a burden. I wouldn't get to join the order and I would be so far behind on the times..." Her list ended up with several more pros and cons on it.
Go In To Hiding
Would be safeNo way to go to school
No dark markWouldn't be able to see my friends
No hurting peopleWould miss my parents
Easier than being a spyWould have no say in what goes on
Don't have to learn dark magic Wouldn't know what was happening
Might have to spend years in seclusion
She looked at her list and then set it aside and started on her next list. It was going to be much harder to find really good reasons for her take this choice over the last.
"So what is good about this? I won't be in seclusion, I can continue my education, I'll be with my friends, and I can even contribute to the order." Some how those didn't seem very good reasons to choose it. "I have so many more reasons not to choose this one. I'd have to learn and use dark magic, I'd have to work with Snape, I would do so many things that people would hate me for. I don't know if I could do it." This list seemed to be longer but maybe not in a good way.
Be A Spy
No seclusionWould have to learn Dark Arts
Would be with friendsMay have to use Dark Arts
Could help the OrderMay be hated if I used Dark Arts
Would help save livesWould have to work with Snape
Could continue educationMay get killed
May help bring Voldemort downMay get distracted in class
Would contribute something to theMay have to get the Dark Mark
It seemed as though the easy thing to do would be to lay low for as long as she had to. But would that be the right thing to do? Sure she would be safe but she almost felt as though she were a coward if she did that. On the other hand if she were to fight she would most likely have to do some awful things She didn't want to kill, but the information that she brought back could be invaluable to the Order. Snape was already doing that but if he got caught she could keep going. Of course if she got caught they both would be discovered because he had helped her join and put his word in for her. There was also the problem that if he didn't induct her his word would be broken too. So that was another reason to go. She didn't want to take out Snape as a way to keep her safe. That just wouldn't be right no matter how much of a bastard he was.
"I'm going to do it." She thought to herself. "I am going to become a spy to help the Order and bring Voldemort down!"
With her mind thoroughly made up she dressed in her nightgown and headed to bed. It was going to be a rough day tomorrow.
"How can you give that girl a choice Albus?" Snape rage. "She will choose the seclusion and then my cover will be blown because I gave my word against her!"
"Severus please sit down." Dumbledore said almost impatiently. Then he smiled and said, "Lemon drop?"
"No Albus I won't sit and how many times have I told you no to a lemon drop. I'm sure it is almost impossible to count" Snape spat.
"Severus she is a smart student. Of all the students to get into this mess it is good it was her. She will choose to fight I know it. Her honor won't let her go into hiding and her reasoning will tell her the only thing she can do is fight. You have no reason to worry. Now please sit down." Dumbledore said this last thing with an air that said he wasn't kidding. "Now what did Lucius say before Hermione was discovered."
"He informed me of an upcoming Death Eater ball. It is to be held at Malfoy Manor and I have to attend. No one knows why the ball is being held, not even Lucius. He only received a letter that told him to hold the ball the day before Halloween. All the decorations were to be up to Lucius and so was the food and attire." He said the last word with severe distaste.
"And what is the apparel?" Dumbledore asked amusedly.
"What do you think Albus? That inhumane bastard is having a Halloween ball, costumes and all. I despise dressing up." Snape said.
"Be that as it may you still have to attend I'm afraid. And you will most likely have a date."
"WHAT?!" Snape roared.
"Miss Granger will most likely have to accompany you now that Lucius knows she is going to become a Death Eater. It will be his way of seeing if she is loyal or not."
"I suppose she will have to come." Snape said calming down some. "But it will not be a date. We will be associates."
"Of course Severus. But she will still accompany you as your charge so she will be your date to the ball."
Snape growled and gave the headmaster a look of utter disgust.
"Oh don't give me that look. It will be only once and it is in almost two months time. By then you will have gotten to know each other better."
"Whatever Albus. I am going to bed now."
"Good night Severus. I will see you tomorrow at the meeting with Miss. Granger."
Snape grunted and headed to his rooms. He absolutely hated the cheerfulness of that man. As far as he was concerned there was nothing to be happy about. It was almost a disgrace that the head of the order didn't take things as seriously as he should. Letting Granger become a spy was one thing when it came to exposing Snape himself but then joking about how she would have to attend a ball as his date was not right. At the ball she would probably have to do some hideous thing to prove her loyalty or at least her capability of doing some horrible act. It was unbelievable that he had given the girl a choice. Going into hiding would destroy Snape and Dumbledore knew it. Dumbledore was sure she would pick to fight be he himself didn't have that confidence.
The insufferable know it all would probably choose seclusion so she could study and probably no even have to go back to school when she came. Of course she could probably graduate right now if she chose. The hardest NEWTs there was, was the potions NEWT and she was amazing at them. He had never had a student that had so much potential. She understood the complexities that were the art of potions; that following the instructions was only half the job. It was incredible to have her in class. It was the only time he found pleasure in teaching because she understood everything he taught her. It wasn't as if he told her that she was amazing with potions far from it really. He criticized her as often as he could with out discouraging her from trying.
But why was he thinking of her? He had more pressing things to worry about, like the next time there was a meeting. How was he going to assure everyone of Granger's loyalty, that is if she decided to go through with it.
He reached his room and let down his wards. He went inside and went strait to the bathroom. He was going to need a long hot shower before he would get any sleep. And he might even a sleeping potion. Might as well try getting to sleep with out resorting to that though.
After his shower he got dressed for bed and laid down. He looked over at his clock to see what time it was: 2:00.
"Well," he said to himself, " At least I have four hours of sleep. I have managed with less." With that he turned off the lamp that was on his bedside table and rolled over and went to sleep.
A/N: Hope you all like it. By the looks of it so far it is going to be a long story. I'll try my best to keep updating as much as possible. Please review because that what keeps me writing. It is wonderful to get in put no matter bad or good. Thanx!