Disclaimer: All characters in Harry Potter belong to JKRowling, Bloomsbury, Warner Bros, etc... No infringement intended and no monetary benefits made.

A/N: I'm afraid this chapter isn't much... more like a filler chapter than anything. But I've got exams coming up and if I don't update now, it would take another month or longer.


Without You

Chapter 14 - Teachings of the Aged & the Youth

xXXXXXx

In a bright red flash, Harry and Hermione with Dumbledore were back in the Headmaster's office.

"The night definitely was full of surprises. Well, I suggest you two go back to your dormitories. I will write you two a pass in case you run into Mr. Filch," Dumbledore said while writing on a piece of parchment on his table.

"Wait! Do you know how to destroy the locket?" Harry asked.

"The soul fragment is interwoven into the very core of the host object with magic. In order to destroy it, you have to damage the Locket beyond any form of repairs… or you can overpower the horcrux magic with your own. Either way, the soul fragment will be destroyed," he answered. "But you should not worry about this. I will see to it," he added quickly.

Harry nodded and was ready to go back to the Gryffindor common room when he noticed that Hermione was looking at Dumbledore suspiciously.

"You're thinking of destroying it in the second way, aren't you?" she asked accusingly.

Dumbledore looked startled… because his plans were seen through by a student or because he was talked to like a small child, Harry did not know.

But he quickly composed himself and said, "Miss Granger, this is a relic of a Hogwarts founder from one thousand years ago. As Headmaster, it is my duty to at least keep it intact."

Both Harry and Hermione huffed in disbelief but Hermione was the quicker one to give her opinion.

"That's rubbish and you know it! You could kill yourself in doing so and still could not be sure whether the soul piece is destroyed or not. It's an awfully dangerous and reckless thing to do. We're not going to take that risk… No!" she reasoned vehemently.

Dumbledore sighed. "I am quite aware of it, Miss Granger… but I cannot destroy it knowing that it once belonged to Salazaar Slytherin. It would be like permanently deleting a course of history," the Headmaster replied.

"That's exactly what it is! History! We cannot live in the past… we have to live in the present and prepare for the future." Harry pointed out. "Besides, I don't think we're deleting any history at all. Slytherin lived a thousand years ago and yes, he had done his share of great things but this Locket was his personal item. It shouldn't relate to any historical events or happenings."

"Well said, Harry!" Hermione exclaimed.

Something Harry couldn't identify shifted in Dumbledore's eyes before he gave them a sad smile. "You have grown up right in front of my eyes and yet, I have failed to witness it. You will be a great wizard one day, Harry… greater and wiser than I ever was."

"Does that mean you're not doing it anymore?" Harry asked hopefully.

The aged wizard nodded. "Even until now, the erroneous views from my youth still influence my actions sometimes. I shall look into the other means of destroying it as soon as possible then."

"You should try Acromantula venom," Hermione suggested before she took Harry's hand and headed to the Gryffindor common room.

xXXXXXx

The next evening, after their daily practice, Harry and Hermione were sitting in the Room of Requirement and discussing the events that had transpired the previous day.

"Do you think we can trust Dumbledore now?" Harry asked as he sipped on his pumpkin juice.

"I don't know if we can fully trust him but at least we know he'll have to follow the conditions of the Unbreakable Vow," Hermione answered, sipping her own drink.

"Good. I don't know what his intentions are but at least we're working towards the same goal now. The Unbreakable Vow is one of the best ideas you've come up with," he remarked. "There's no loop hole out of it right?" he added.

"Of course not!" she answered, giving him a mock glare.

Laughing at her antics, he pulled her close to him. "I should know better than to doubt the brightest witch of our age, shouldn't I?"

As Hermione snuggled closer to him, she said contently, "And don't you forget that Mr. Potter."

"But, yesterday went rather well in my opinion," he commented.

"Humph… you would say so! You didn't get your mind attacked!" Hermione grumbled crossly, poking him hard in the ribs.

"Ouch! Hermione!" he yelped but his face turned contrite as he said, "But you're right, of course. I'm sorry… I didn't mean to imply that Dumbledore forcing on your mind with Legilimency was nothing."

"I know, Harry. It's just that I'm still quite angry about it. Dumbledore is just so… self-righteous. He didn't give us time to explain… he thinks everything he does is the best!" she griped darkly, absently rubbing the spot she had poked earlier.

"I never thought Dumbledore could be like this. I've always thought of him in a positive light… you know, like some perfect being, who could do no wrong."

"Nobody is perfect Harry… Dumbledore the least of all," Hermione reminded him. "I don't begin to comprehend his obsession with founders' relics but I could still remember him wearing the Slytherin ring in plain view last time. Voldemort could have seen! I didn't know what he was thinking then… just like I didn't know what he was thinking last night when he hinted that he wanted to overpower the Locket and keep it."

"He's mental!" Harry jokingly imitated Ron.

"I think Dumbledore has been in 'The most powerful wizard' position for too long… people always look up to him for decisions and it makes him think his decisions are right… or at least the best choice," Hermione tried to reason.

"I don't care why he's that way. I don't know… I think I'm disappointed, you know… like a child whose hero does something he doesn't approve of and it makes him upset."

"Yeah, I know," she murmured as she traced invisible line on his chest. "I'm glad we're safe from his Legilimency now."

"But hey! I did protect you yesterday!" Harry remarked suddenly. "Shouldn't I get a reward or something?" he asked cheekily.

"Hold your horses now Harry. I have something else of importance that I need to talk to you about," Hermione said.

"What is it?"

"It's about Ron."

"What about him?" Harry questioned.

"Are you going to tell him? You know, about the prophecy?"

Harry kept quiet for the short moment he spent thinking but finally said, "Ron is a good friend and I know I can trust him completely with the secret but… I don't think I trust his reaction. He's still quite immature and tends to get into those… jealous fits. I'm afraid he would not see the prophecy for what it really is - a terrible curse. Do you understand what I mean?"

"I think I can understand your reasoning… and it is very perceptive of you," Hermione said looking into his eyes. "But whatever your decision is, you have my full support."

"I'm glad I have you on my side. Now can I get my reward?" he added with a puppy dog look on his face.

Chuckling, Hermione crawled onto his lap and rewarded him so thoroughly that the two of them were otherwise occupied to speak for the next several minutes.

xXXXXXx

The days passed by relatively in peace and it was Thursday before they knew it – the day Dumbledore agreed to train them. Despite having the memories of her thirty-five-year-old self, Hermione was very excited about their evening lesson with the Headmaster. After all, it was a very rare opportunity for anybody to be trained by Albus Dumbledore himself.

After Ron had beaten Harry three times in chess, the two Gryffindors excused themselves and made their way to Dumbledore's office. They had told Ron that they were doing some extra-credit project with the Headmaster, which made the redhead think they were 'mental'.

Even though they had reconciled with the youngest Weasley boy, the interaction between the trio had been rather tense especially on Ron's part since he had admitted that he might still like Hermione. Luna, however, still made her appearances and was quite adamant in getting Ron to talk to her, which Hermione wholeheartedly encouraged. Harry teased her about her eagerness to push the redhead into liking the eccentric yet likable Ravenclaw.

As the pair went into Dumbledore's office, they were met by the Headmaster with his eyes twinkling merrily.

"Lemon drop?" he offered.

Harry and Hermione shook their heads politely.

"More for me then," he said as he popped the sweet into his mouth. "Now, before we begin our session today, I want to let you know that the Slytherin Locket has been destroyed."

Harry and Hermione grinned widely. "That's really great! Two down, four more to go... and Voldemort himself of course!" Harry exclaimed.

Dumbledore smiled at Harry but addressed his question to Hermione, "Miss Granger, may I ask how you know that Acromantula venom would destroy the horcrux… or is it one of your secrets as well?" Dumbledore added after seeing Hermione's reluctant expression.

"It is, sir. I do not want to disclose the information for now," Hermione confirmed strongly.

He sighed quietly. "I respect your wishes, Miss Granger. However, if you happen to know the location of the rest of the horcruxes, you have to let me know."

"I will, sir, when the time is right," Hermione replied firmly, closing further negotiation on the subject.

"Very well then," the Headmaster acquiesced. "Now to start off with our lesson today, I need to know whether Harry knows Occlumency as much as Miss Granger does. If not, it is where we should begin," Dumbledore said.

"Harry is as competent as I am in Occlumency. He can block out a Boggart if you want to know his level," Hermione offered.

"That's very good," Dumbledore exclaimed, looking quite impressed. "It is quite sufficient unless you are tortured mentally by a master Legilimen for information."

A scowl appeared on Hermione's face and she muttered under her breath, "just like you did." Dumbledore did not hear or pretended not to hear. Harry smiled affectionately at her.

"You shall not be learning Occlumency here then unless you have a question," Dumbledore continued.

"Yes, yes I do have a question now that you speak of it. When I was in Hermione's mind, it was this huge library, but when I got into your mind, it was just memories… and my own mind is also just a jumble of memories. Why is Hermione's mind any different?" Harry asked.

Dumbledore smiled as he answered, "I would expect nothing less from Miss Granger. She, Harry, had organized and categorized her memories. The library you saw is just her way of doing so. Though it is well protected, my mind, I'm afraid, is quite disorderly unlike Miss Granger's, which is why you only saw flashes of memories."

"So, I can organize my mind and have it become a library as well?" Harry wondered.

"Yes, and no," replied Dumbledore.

Harry gave him a confused look but it was Hermione who responded. "Yes, you can organize your thoughts and memories… and no, it doesn't have to be library. It can be anything… as long as you can keep them in the manner you want. It can be a… a house or even a Quidditch pitch."

"A Quidditch pitch?!" Harry repeated, raising an eyebrow at her suggestion.

"I'm just giving you an example," she retorted although he could see a hint of a smile.

"It appears that Miss Granger is no stranger to the topic. I am sure she will be more than happy to help you with it. Now, let us move onto other matters, shall we?" Dumbledore spoke.

He flicked his wand and half a dozen books came floating from a bookshelf, which was located at the side of the room. Picking out three particularly thick books, he pushed them towards his students and said merrily, "These books should last you quite some time… even you Miss Granger."

"Are those for us to read?" Hermione asked gleefully, which made her companions smile at her enthusiasm.

"Yes, Miss Granger. They are for you to read… and practise. These books contain very advanced level of magic and I will be lending them to you. You are to read them and learn what you think is necessary from them. I will not go through every single charm and hex in them with you but if you encounter any difficulties with any of them, you can bring it up to me and we can discuss," Dumbledore described.

"So that's all we're going to do with you?" Harry asked.

"Oh no, my boy. We will be doing more than that… something books cannot offer. I agree it is very helpful to have vast amount of knowledge at your disposal when you are in a fight with Death Eaters or anybody else for that matter. But you also need to develop techniques and strategies which you can only gain through experience. That is what I am going to help you with – experience."

"We're going to duel with you then?" Harry wondered.

"Perhaps… but I do not want you to worry about it for now. I have everything planned," Dumbledore reassured them.

They nodded uncertainly.

"Now, today's lesson is only for me to gauge what to start teaching you, so don't expect much. It will just be a discussion between us," he informed.

The teens looked disappointed but nodded their agreement.

Dumbledore continued, "I said just now that knowing large number of spells is very useful, but sometimes, it could also be harmful depending on the individual. Tell me how it can be harmful," Dumbledore prompted.

"Some people might spend too much time pondering what spell to use," Hermione answered instantly, making Harry wonder whether she used to have that problem in the previous timeline.

"Very good, Miss Granger. Unless you can cast them with absolute certainty and efficiency, it is imprudent to attempt any intricate spells when you're in a life-or-death situation. Besides, you do not have the time or the luxury to think too long about which spell to use. You need to be fast and effective… be sure to use something that you have a lot of practice with," the Headmaster instructed.

"Now… apart from having a lot of spells at your fingertips, what else do you need?" he questioned.

Harry looked at Hermione, expecting her to give the answers again but she was signalling him with her eyes to answer the question this time.

"Erm… I don't know… your aim, I guess. I mean people don't care much about their spell precision because they don't really need it in everyday life. But in duelling it's totally different. The spells need to be aimed precisely and what's harder is that your target moves," Harry provided.

Dumbledore nodded, encouraging him to continue.

And so, it went on with Dumbledore asking them questions and then supplementing their answers with certain minor yet important things that they had left out. More than an hour had passed since they arrived and finally Dumbledore deemed it was time for the night's lesson to come to a stop.

"I think it is enough for today. Please come to the seventh floor, opposite the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy for next week's lesson. It will be a practical lesson."

"We're using the Room of Requirement," Harry questioned.

Dumbledore chuckled, "I should not be surprised that you two know about the Room of Requirement… but yes, we will have our practice session there next week. I trust you will come to me with any problems you might have with the books?"

At their nod, the aged wizard bide them good night as they left his office.


I hope you enjoyed and many thanks to those who reviewed!