Disclaimer: Unfortunately Harry and his friend and teachers are not mine. They belong to JK Rowling.
Two men stood in the Forest, watching the large crowd of people disperse. They were dressed in dark robes that allowed them to disappear into the shadows under the trees. One had long white hair and a beard and his eyes, which were normally an intense blue, were dull with weariness. The other man was younger and had sallow skin, shoulder length black hair and dark piercing eyes. He was supporting the older man who appeared weak and ill.
The two men continued to watch silently as a young man with messy black hair walked away from the crowd and came around the lake, closer to them. The young man was joined by two others; another young man, this one with bright red hair and a young woman with brown bushy hair.
"It worked then?" the black haired man said quietly, with no hints of the sarcasm and bitterness than usually surrounded him.
"So it seems," his companion replied wearily.
"Is Potter ready?"
"Can anyone be ready for what he now faces?"
"But is he ready?"
"He has taken the first steps down the road to his future. The rest is now up to him."
"That is not a reassuring answer."
"It was not meant to be. I have shown him the road. I have pointed him in the direction he must take but I can do no more. He must take the lead now. He knows what must be done."
Silence reigned for a while as they watched the three young people talk then the old man spoke again.
"How is Draco?"
"The Dark Lord is displeased with him."
"And how is he disposed towards you?"
"I am his favourite."
"Then all of the pieces are in place. Now the game must be played."
The black haired man closed his eyes for a moment.
"You should rest," he said when he opened them again.
"Soon, soon," the old man said soothingly. "There are still some things to be done. Let us work our way closer. I would like to hear what those three have planned."
The black haired man nodded and the two men moved as close to the three students as they could.
Harry stared across the lake and felt his thoughts slowly start to coalesce. He'd been feeling so disjointed since that terrible night but now, since the funeral had started and ended, his thoughts were starting to clear. He fingered the fake Horcrux then pulled his hand out of his pocket and cleared his throat. Ron and Hermione gave a start and looked at him with surprise.
"We have to make a few plans," Harry said firmly. "Since it seems I can't get rid of you two, we have to make sure we're organised."
"Damn right you can't get rid of us," Ron said staunchly.
"Absolutely," Hermione said with a smile. "So where do we start? We don't have much time."
Harry nodded. "I know so we'll only be able to make some loose plans for now. We'll have time to tighten them up later. Firstly, Hermione, I need you to find out everything you can about the Fidelius charm. How to cast it, everything! When Dumbledore died, every one of the spells he cast will have died with him. And that includes the Fidelius that's protecting Grimmauld Place." He grimaced. "I don't like the idea of using that house but it's perfectly situated to act as Headquarters."
"So it's vulnerable even now?" Hermione said with some alarm.
Harry swore. "Dammit, yes." He frowned in thought then snapped his fingers. "I know! Kreacher! Dobby!"
There were twin pops and the two house elves appeared in front of Harry, both of them eyeing the other suspiciously.
"Kreacher," Harry snapped. "I order you to go back to Grimmauld Place. You will not allow anyone except for me, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger to enter the house. No one but us, Kreacher! Do you understand me?"
"Master has given Kreacher an order," the little house elf muttered. "Kreacher has heard it and Kreacher will obey even though Kreacher wishes his Master was…"
"Enough!" Harry barked. "I don't need the added commentary." He then turned to Dobby and his voice softened. "Dobby? Will go with him and make sure he obeys. I don't want anyone entering Grimmauld Place except for Ron, Hermione and myself."
"Dobby is happy to help Harry Potter," Dobby said looking very pleased at the trust being placed in him. "No one will enter Grimmauld Place." He paused and looked worried. "Harry Potter sir? What about the good wizards who is using that place?"
"No one, Dobby," Harry replied firmly. "It's not safe anymore."
Dobby nodded and the house elves disappeared.
"Now, I have to go back to the Dursleys," Harry began.
"We," Ron said firmly.
Harry gave him an exasperated look. "I don't think your Mum would like that too much, Ron. Look we all have to go home, at least at first. I don't plan on staying there for too long, only a day or two to get myself organised. Then I'll go to Grimmauld Place. I should be safe enough with Dobby and Kreacher until you can get the information for the Fidelius charm, Hermione."
"Are you sure?" Hermione said, looking worried.
"House elf magic is strong," Harry replied. "I saw Dobby throw Lucius Malfoy down a set of stairs in order to protect me. Don't underestimate them."
"Alright," Hermione said, still looking worried.
"Once you know how the Fidelius charm is performed, let me know and we can use it on Grimmauld Place," Harry continued, standing up and starting to pace a little. "That'll take care of at least one problem."
"We are going to come and join you once that's done," Ron said in firm tone. "I take it you plan on being the Secret Keeper."
Harry nodded, his face stony, his voice stern. "It's probably for the best. Okay, once we're situated at Grimmauld Place we need to start working out what we're going to do but I have some ideas. Firstly, we need training. Proper training in how to fight and stay alive. Second, we need to find out who R.A.B. is and make sure he really did destroy that Horcrux. Third, we need to find and destroy the other Horcruxes before I can face Voldemort. Fourth, and you're probably not going to like this Hermione, I am going to get that book back and we're going to learn every bloody spell in it. Every spell and every counter to those spells. And Hermione, you're job is going to be to continue on with…his work. Create new spells for us. If Snape could do it, you can as well. You're not just the smartest witch in our year; you're the smartest witch in the whole bloody school! He got pretty angry that I used his own spells against him, angry enough that he didn't notice Buckbeak approaching. I'm going to use that against him."
He paused in his pacing and looked at his friends. "I am going to finish this," he said in a strong, deadly tone. "Voldemort believed in that prophecy so blindly that he made me his enemy. I have no choice other than to follow along but I'll be damned if I do it on anything other than my own terms!"
Ron and Hermione's expressions were a mix of determination, anger and a little fear.
"I'd better get to the library," Hermione said, springing to her feet. "I'll probably need all the time we have left to talk Madam Pince into letting me take some of those books home with me."
"I'm going to go and talk to Bill," Ron said, also getting to his feet. "I think he might have some books that might help us in our training."
Harry nodded. "I'll go to the Room of Requirement. I hid the book in there."
The three friends strode off towards the castle with strong, determined strides.
The old man smiled with satisfaction.
"Come, Severus," he said, turning back towards the Forest. "We must get to London."
Severus frowned. "Why?"
"Because I have to remove the Fidelius charm from Grimmauld Place. It would not do for that to still be there. Young Harry was right. The spell would have died when I did." The old man hesitated. "It might do well for you to stay out of Harry's way. It would not do for him to kill you before we have an opportunity to confess our ruse to him."
"That will be difficult, Albus. That is precisely what the Dark Lord wishes for me to do. Get in his way."
Albus sighed. "Decoy manoeuvres," he muttered. "Very clever. Well then, let us hope that Harry is able to see through them and remain focused on his objectives. I did note that you were not one of them."
Severus grunted as he helped Albus through the Forest.
"I will be the most obvious target now, particularly for the Order," he said sourly. "Few other than Potter will dare try to directly oppose the Dark Lord. Draco and I however…"
"I know," Albus replied. "Be careful, my boy. That is all I ask. I would like for both of us to survive this."
Severus gave another sour grunt and the two men continued on their way.
When they got on the train, Harry, Ron and Hermione made a beeline for an empty compartment. They dragged their trunks inside and closed the door firmly.
"Well?" Harry said.
"Madam Pince wasn't very happy about it but she let me take a half dozen books with me," Hermione said with satisfaction. "She said she trusted that I would not damage them in any way."
"Bill said he's got some books that we might find useful," Ron reported. "I didn't tell him what we have planned but I think he might have guessed some of it. He said he'd have a think and let me know what books might be worth getting to add to his books."
"I got the book," Harry said. "Just as well I hid it as well as I did. That cupboard the Death Eaters used to get into Hogwarts was in there."
Ron gave Harry a funny look. "Harry? Ginny told me you'd broken up with her; that's why she wouldn't come and join us. Why the hell did you do that?"
Harry sighed and swallowed hard. "I didn't want to, Ron, but I had to do it. Look, she's already in enough danger since everyone knows that I consider your family to be mine. She'd be in even more danger if Voldemort found out she was my girlfriend. I don't want that. She wasn't happy about it but she understood. I don't want to have to go to her funeral because she died for me. I know she's not safe, no one is, but she is safer now."
Ron gave Harry a long look then nodded solemnly. "She'll wait for you, mate. I know that much."
Harry smiled wanly. "She's a Weasley. She's stubborn."
"Damn right," Ron replied with a small grin.
"Who do think we could get to train us?" Hermione asked, changing the subject.
"I've been thinking about that," Harry said, "and I'm not too sure."
"What about Moody?" Ron suggested. "From what Dad says, Moody was always pretty independent when he was an Auror. He knows heaps about the kind of stuff we want to know and he was always Dumbledore's man. He didn't trust Snape one bit either."
"Ron, he didn't trust anyone," Hermione said.
"Well, true but he really didn't trust Snape," Ron replied.
Harry nodded slowly. "Moody's a good choice." He paused. "How much trouble are we going to have from your parents and the Order?"
"Tell them it's what Dumbledore wanted you to do," Hermione suggested. "I mean he did, though he never said it as such. They won't like it but I think they'll understand the idea of honouring a dead man's wishes. You may have to explain some of it to them though."
"Yeah, I guess I will," Harry said with a grimace. He hesitated for a long moment then said slowly, "I…had an idea about who R.A.B. might be. I don't know why I didn't think of it before."
"Who?" Hermione asked curiously.
"Well, presumably R.A.B. must have known Voldemort, been close to him in some way. Close enough to have found out about the Horcruxes and where the locket was being kept," Harry explained. "From what Dumbledore showed me in the pensieve that almost must make him a Death Eater. One who betrayed Voldemort and knew he was going to die because of it."
Hermione gasped and covered her mouth with one hand. Harry nodded at her.
"Yes, you've worked it out," he said intently. "Who do we know with those initials that was a Death Eater? That changed his mind? That tried to back out of the whole thing? That was killed by Voldemort? Regulus Black." He paused. "Now I don't know whether it was actually him but it's worth thinking about."
"Did Sirius ever say anything about him?" Hermione asked.
Harry leaned back on the seat and thought. "Not much. He didn't really like talking about his family. He told me that Regulus had joined the Death Eaters then panicked at what he was being asked to do and tried to back out. Sirius said that his brother was murdered by Voldemort then he said it was probably more likely to be on Voldemort's orders. But that was what he said first: Regulus was murdered by Voldemort."
Hermione sat thinking for a moment then her eyes widened and she gasped. "Harry! Let me see that locket!"
Harry frowned and pulled the fake Horcrux out of his robes. He handed it over to Hermione who examined it closely.
"Harry, how close is it to the original that you saw in the pensieve?" she asked.
Harry frowned. "It's…smaller and there are no markings on it. It should have an 'S' carved on it. It looked similar enough through the liquid in that bowl though."
Hermione nodded, looking triumphant. "I'm sure it did. Harry! I think we've seen the original."
Silence greeted Hermione's words then both Ron and Harry looked dubious.
"Where?" Harry asked.
"At Grimmauld Place," Hermione replied fervently. "When we were doing all of that cleaning last summer."
Harry frowned. "I don't remember anything like that."
"Besides we threw most of that rubbish out so what does it matter," Ron added.
"No we didn't," Hermione replied. "It was all taken to either the attic or the cellar. Dumbledore didn't want to risk anyone getting their hands on any of that Dark stuff."
"So where was it?" Harry asked.
"Do you remember when we were cleaning out those glass-fronted cabinets in the drawing room?" Hermione said. "The ones full of all those Dark objects?"
"Oh yeah," Harry said. "That's the day Sirius told me all that stuff about Regulus."
"Do you remember some of the stuff we took out of those cabinets?" Hermione pressed. "There was that snuffbox that bit Sirius, that musical box that nearly put us all to sleep, the Order of Merlin and…a really heavy locket that none of us could open!"
She sat back in her seat looking triumphant as Ron and Harry exchanged disbelieving looks.
"It was there all along?" Ron said in a stunned voice.
"He hid it in plain sight," Harry said weakly. "He somehow found out about it, stole it from the cave and then hid it at Grimmauld Place in amongst a whole bunch of other Dark objects." He ran a hand through his hair. "The question is did he destroy the Horcrux before he got killed? And if so, how? How did he find out what they are? Slughorn told Voldemort but he didn't know that much about it. He certainly didn't know the spell that was needed to create one."
"Maybe there's some information in the library at Grimmauld Place?" Hermione suggested.
Ron shook his head. "There can't be. Surely Dumbledore would have found it if there was."
"Maybe," Hermione conceded. "But there's no harm in searching."
Ron shrugged. "So the diary Ginny found was one Horcrux, the ring you told us about, the one that burnt Dumbledore's hand, was one. The locket is another. What were the others again?"
"Voldemort has one part of his soul within himself," Harry said carefully. "The others are the ring, the diary, the locket, Hufflepuff's cup, Nagini and there's one more that Dumbledore thought must be a relic of Ravenclaw's." He stuttered to a halt and his eyes widened.
Hermione laughed. "I think Harry's just had a lightbulb moment like I just did," she said to Ron.
"Looks like it," Ron replied.
"Oh yeah," Harry breathed. "Dumbledore said that Nagini was probably not Voldemort's first choice of Horcrux. That he used her after he returned during the third task. His original sixth Horcrux was meant to be created the night he came after my parents and me at Godric's Hollow. The sixth Horcrux was meant to be created using my death. But it all backfired on him, didn't it? Because my Mum was prepared to sacrifice herself to save me and gave me that protection. The spell backfired and Voldemort's body was destroyed."
"I'm not quite sure where you're going with this, Harry," Hermione said, looking mildly confused.
"It would make sense that the object to be used as a Horcrux would need some kind of preparation, yes?" Harry asked.
Hermione nodded slowly as she thought that through. "Well, yes, that makes some sense. It's hard to really know because we don't know anything about the process but that's a valid assumption. Most of the time when you want to use an object to hold anything remotely magical you've got to prepare it somehow or else the magic can break or warp it."
"Exactly!" Harry said. "So wouldn't that mean that there is a prepared Horcrux object at Godric's Hollow?"
Hermione blinked. "But surely everything would have been removed after…well, afterwards?"
"I know," Harry said. "That did occur to me. But would anyone have known what that object was? Or what it was for? Dumbledore said he thought Voldemort would have found it easier to find something of Ravenclaw's and that he thought that the only known relic of Godric Gryffindor was his sword but is that true? What if Voldemort found something of Gryffindor's and was going to use that as his sixth Horcrux? Would anyone associate something belonging to Godric Gryffindor with Voldemort the Slytherin? Or would they associate it with James and Lily Potter the Gryffindors? I never found out what happened to all of my parents' things after they died."
Ron nodded slowly. "He's got a point, Hermione. It's worth thinking about anyway. And if there was one of Gryffindor's relics at your house then I think I know where it is."
"Where?" Harry asked as Hermione thought about what had been said.
"Gringotts," Ron replied. "You've probably got a family vault that you'd have inherited from your Dad. He was a pureblood and all pureblood families have them. You've seen ours."
"But I already have a vault," Harry objected.
Ron shook his head. "I'll bet that's not the family vault. Family vaults are usually pretty big and full of all sorts of family heirlooms. The Potters would have to have stuff like that. There's only money in the vault you use, isn't there?"
Harry nodded. "But how do I find out?"
"Well, you'll probably be notified when you come of age," Ron said. "But I could always ask Bill if he could find out in some way."
Harry bit his lip then nodded. "Yeah, do that. But only if he can find out without getting himself or anyone else in trouble. It's not that long until my birthday. We can always wait if we have to. Hermione? What do you think of all of this?"
"I…think it's a good working premise," she said slowly. "I don't know whether it's right or not but it's probably a good place to start. Particularly about the Horcrux brought to Godric's Hollow. Even if it isn't a relic of Godric Gryffindor it may be in your vault. They probably didn't examine anything too hard after your parents died other than to determine if it was Dark or not."
"There's something else we have to work out," Harry said grimly. "Your mention of Bill reminded me, Ron. We have to find things to ward off and hurt werewolves. And we'll have to be bloody careful what we do with them. I don't want to hurt Remus." He smiled wryly. "Tonks would kill me."
"Because of that Fenrir Greyback person?" Hermione asked with a small smile at Harry's last comment.
Harry nodded. "And we might want to give Fred and George a project to develop something that's easy for kids to wear and use. Greyback likes going after children, the younger the better." He paused. "He's the one who bit Remus when he was a child."
"I think they owe us after what happened with the Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder," Ron said grimly.
"Well, you've put a lot on our plates, Harry," Hermione said with a wry look.
"And we don't have a lot of time," Harry replied. "Remember, the only wizard Voldemort ever feared was Dumbledore and I think Dumbledore's presence made him wary about doing too much. Now that Dumbledore's…gone, there's nothing to hold Voldemort back."
Both Ron and Hermione looked grim and slightly scared at that thought then they nodded firmly.
"We'll be ready," Ron said, his voice a little rough.
"Harry? Have you thought about a name?" Hermione asked as calmly as she could.
"A name?" Harry said with distaste. "Hermione, I am not doing what Tom Riddle and Snape did."
"That's not what I meant," Hermione said in a mollifying tone. "I meant something along the lines of the Order of the Phoenix. You said that Dumbledore was the only thing that Voldemort feared. Maybe we should think of giving him something else to fear."
"I take it you've got something in mind," Harry said.
Hermione nodded. "It's a very Muggle thing. Religious in fact but that doesn't matter for our purposes. It's the Muggle aspect of it that I like; that and it describes the three of us."
"What is it?" Harry asked, sounding interested. "Since I can't get rid of you two, we might as well make Voldemort afraid of all three of us."
Hermione smiled smugly. "That's what I thought. Anyway, we've been called the Gryffindor Trio and the Golden Trio before but that's by other people. This will be our name for ourselves. The Trinity."
"The Trinity," Harry said softly. He was aware of the Muggle connotations to the word though he'd never been to church. But that wasn't what drew him to the name; it was the idea behind it. Three working together as one. "I like it."
"So do I," Ron said.
"The Trinity it is then," Harry said solemnly, feeling almost like they were part of some kind of ritual.
He held his hands out to his friends, palms up. Ron immediately took one and held his other hand out to Hermione. She took both their hands with a sober expression on her faces.
They stayed like that for a moment then they reclaimed their hands and sat back in their seats. After a few moments they all reached into their trunks and took out books; Harry had the Prince's Potions book, Hermione had one of the books she had borrowed from the library and Ron had grabbed his Defence Against the Dark Arts textbook. They opened their books and settled in to read.