The wheels are in motion. Neville decides to be more like his parents. Luna knows what to do, yet she doesn't. And Harry and Hermione? Well, they're ready. Maybe too ready.
Disclaimer: I'm up at 7:50 AM, pulling an all-nighter, on a story I haven't updated in a year. I'm not on a Jet. I'm not in my pool with my waterproof laptop. I'm just wondering to myself why people seem to hate Harry with harems.
…no, we're not getting into another argument about harems. There will be nothing of the sort in this story. I'm just trying to make a point. People hate harems. Yet they want them. Strange.
What I guess I'm trying to say is I don't own Harry Potter. And that I might have ADHD, but that's another story.
Beta-ed by Alix33 - July 17, 2012
I was never really a big fan of Neville. He didn't do much, in my opinion, before he went all badass in the 7th book. It's time to badassify him again. So expect some jump-arounds in this chapter and in the future.
Chapter Eight – Niveo Noctuam Lardum
It was when they set up one of Mr. Weasley's tents, deep in the woods, not ten miles from Grimmauld Place, that Hermione truly realized the ramifications of what she did. The pain that she had caused what had been one of her best friends. The consequences that were sure to follow.
She had gone too far. She knew that. She had known that the moment she slapped him. She went too far. But she did not need consoling. She did not need a pat on the back. She didn't need pity or comforting. She only wanted peace.
And now, she finally had it. No needing to scream, no needing to defend every action she took, no one automatically rebuffing her suggestions, no more damned clicking –
The clicking? The Deluminator! She had completely forgotten – where could it be?
She asked Harry, and he looked a bit concerned. Checking his watch, he noticed that only twenty minutes had passed. He summoned Kreacher, and gave him three tasks. One, he would search for the Deluminator, and two, he would lock the house. Properly lock it, not just let anyone turn the knob and stare at a dust cloud. Three, he wanted Mundungus out of the house. Not in front of the watchers, but he really didn't care where else.
Hermione hastily added that Kreacher put a monitoring charm on the house before he popped away. He gave no indication of whether he heard or not. She knew she should probably feel something akin to sadness for the elf, but she couldn't bring herself to feel anything at the moment. She was tired. She wordlessly slipped into bed and fell unconscious.
Harry crashed down on the chair in the corner and gave her form a tired smile.
He was very unfamiliar with the entre concept of love, and he had a terrible track record at relationships. Sure, he supposed he was a good boyfriend to Ginny. For two weeks. And she, for the first 13 years of her life, idolized him. He had probably messed up, and she turned a blind eye. And Cho. He had ruined the first date. In hindsight, they both made the mistake, thinking it would even work.
But, looking at her, he could never really put Hermione Granger and 'mistake' in the same sentence. The only people who had, in a way, told him that they loved him in his life was his parents, Sirius, Hedwig, and Dumbledore. All dead. All taken from him. And Harry knew who Voldemort's next target was if Ron decided to spread the news around Hogwarts about his and Hermione's relationship. Of course he had considered the possibility. Ron could tell everyone, sure. He had no reason to not tell everyone. They didn't exactly threaten him to not tell anyone. They were well aware of Ron's big mouth. But all three of them were aware of Voldemort and what he could do. Every secret had to be kept. If Ron decided to reveal anything, being Harry's 'best friend,' everything would be valid. There would be no question, it was the truth. Even if he told lies.
Harry entertained himself with the idea of giving Ron a Blood Quill to write a few lines before he refocused on the issue.
Harry and Hermione were already wanted people. So revealing that they were together, would that really make a difference? They were already best friends, he had just as much to lose then as he did at this moment. He wasn't planning on losing anything or anyone, either way. He amended his earlier thought – Ron could reveal to the world his relationship status, it wouldn't matter. Hermione and he were on the run, that wasn't going to change. With Ron's status as a pureblood, he would be able to go to school. If he publicly denounced his friendship with his former friends, he would be okay. If he slipped out that they were once hiding at Grimmauld Place, they weren't there anymore, and well hidden away. Everything would be just as it is now.
But only Harry and Ron knew that if he ever revealed anything that could put Hermione in more danger than she was already in, he would kill him.
Harry wasn't stupid. The search for them wouldn't change. But he knew that if they were ever captured… Bad things would happen to both of them. Worse to Hermione. Because of how much she meant to him. Tom tended to be a sadistic bastard like that.
But Ron wasn't going to think that far ahead. He would stupidly open his mouth, preaching out against his 'betrayers.' And then Harry would put his name somewhere on his schedule. Of course Hermione couldn't find out –
He was planning Ron's murder! Ron hadn't even done anything yet! He began to feel horrible for his train of thought.
Still, if Hermione had taught him anything, it was to always have a plan ready.
Kreacher returned with the deluminator, explaining that it was in Ron's room at Grimmauld Place, on the floor. He said that the tasks were completed, before he popped away. The Black Manor was still unsafe to go to, however; they could rough it out for a week or two.
Hermione groaned and turned over in her sleep. He got up and adjusted the covers on her and went to his own bed. He found himself staring at the last empty bed and wished that it were filled. Hermione and he may have been the ones who kicked Ron out, but they felt abandoned.
They felt alone.
And when Hermione grumbled Harry's name in her sleep and sleepily whisper that everything was alright, he couldn't help but agree.
He wasn't good with the concept of love. But he was a quick learner. And Hermione was a good teacher.
He clicked the lights off with his new toy and quickly fell asleep.
He didn't even consider the thought that Ron could easily betray the Wizarding World with one word. A word that could incite fear and paranoia in Tom's mind. A word that, if said loudly enough, could alter the entire adventure of the Chosen One and his Chosen.
"The Phoenix?" Hermione laughed, and Harry grinned sheepishly. "Don't you think that's a bit obvious?"
"The Order is not exactly supposed to be public," He countered. "If anything, people would think it's a proper member of the Order."
Hermione smiled and took a sip of coffee. "I'd say we could be considered proper members."
"Mrs. Weasley wouldn't," Harry said quickly, a slight grimace on his glamoured face telling Hermione that he was aware how much truth there was to his words.
Hermione tapped the rim of the mug as she pondered. "Fine, you can be the Phoenix. Now do me."
Harry simply raised an eyebrow as he stirred the sugar in his own mug.
She was quiet for a few moments, before she made a small peep and laughed, hiding her smile behind the conveniently close newspaper. "Harry, you know what I meant!"
"I did," Harry chuckled, "but it's fun to imagine."
Hermione shook her head so the blush could not work its way to her face for what had to have been the twentieth time that day. Her long blonde hair swished around her shoulders gracefully; distracting Harry for a moment.
"How-" he stopped himself. Hermione looked up at him, her face clear. She waited patiently for him to finish the question.
Harry tried again. "How… do you handle all of that hair?"
Hermione cocked her head to the side. One part of her told her that now was the time to raise an eyebrow, but she was certain Harry wasn't really asking about body hair and their favorite places to grow. "What do you mean?"
"I mean… your hair is much longer than – usual." He muttered, and she nodded in response. "How do you get adjusted so quickly to it? I don't think I could."
She replied by taking a few strands by the ends and fiddled with them. "There's a reason I chose to glamour more hair," she started, and paused. "Want to know a secret?" She asked, and Harry nodded quickly, leaning forward in the booth. She blinked at his eagerness.
"I, uh – " she began, slightly unnerved by his apparent need to learn something about her. She completely missed the irony. "My hair – usually, it's a bit unmanageable, but it's actually this long."
Harry sat like that for a while, absorbing the information, before he fell back, look of shock on his face. Hermione had to smirk – she was quite pleased that she could surprise him with such a useless fact.
Harry kept the look for a bit more before he tilted his head slightly, obviously trying to turn the hair into its usual cinnamon color in his mind. It looked a bit… strange.
Hermione had decided that there was no real need to change her face, as she was most recognizable with her hair. Since Harry was due to have WANTED posters around the Wizarding and Muggle world, he went for a full facial transformation, courtesy of Hermione.
Actually, nothing drastic had changed. Harry, in his original form, had developed facial hair to the point where Hermione could say 'ruggedly cute' but not yet 'ruggedly handsome.' However, in his current appearance, he was completely clean-shaven. He had a bandage spelled to his forehead, since Hermione couldn't conceal it. She wasn't exactly sure why. After performing the glamour spell a few more times, then a few concealment charms, as a joke Harry just took one of the many bandages from her first-aid kit and crookedly stuck it to his forehead. An embarrassed Harry just shrugged and a more embarrassed Hermione pointed out that it puts attention to that area of his forehead, and people would surely compare. Then, in a fit of inspiration, he took another bandage and put it horizontally on his neck. A few more glamour scars, and an eye color change (blue), and they left the tent to venture to a fast food restaurant for a bit of breakfast.
His hair, while shockingly unmanageable, was unchanged. Harry joked that no one would notice him if it was actually straightened and neat. Hermione refused to put any charm on his hair, for sentimental reasons. Harry rubbed at the bandage on the side of his neck. "How come you don't wear it like that at school?"
Hermione grimaced. "It takes really strong conditioner to do the job," she stressed, "and it costs a bit of money. I only tried it twice, when I was in France on vacation. It was… the complimentary bottle in the hotel room."
Harry chuckled. "I guess I have to look there for a cure."
Hermione frowned, but continued with their previous conversation. "Okay, now I have to think of a name."
"I thought I could choose?"
"You could have, until your dirty thoughts got us off-topic."
Hermione sat back, her hands clasped around the mug, holding it to herself. "I suppose I could be an animal name." She looked up at Harry, and almost said something before rapidly shaking her head.
Harry got the feeling of reverse déjà vu as he waited patiently for what she was about to say.
Hermione was thinking of telling him that it was nothing, but she knew he wasn't going to let up until she told him. Just as she always did. "I was only thinking that as a tribute of sorts that I name myself after…" She trailed off.
Harry's smile faded, and she could actually see the light in his eyes dim as his body noticeably slumped. "Hedwig," he murmured, the emotion in his voice breaking her heart.
Hermione immediately realized what she did wrong. All this time, she thought he was adjusting to the snowy owl's death, and slowly beginning to move on, and was healing the wound. Hedwig was never brought up since that night, and he was fine with that – and now she was seeing why. It wasn't to adjust and remember fondly. It was to forget. He was trying to forget. To forget about his first ever best friend, Hedwig.
Hermione immediately moved out of her booth to move to his side. She gently, but forcefully, nudged Harry over to sit with him and wrapped her arms around him. Concentrating, she managed a small wandless notice-me-not charm around them. She then concentrated the rest of her energy on holding him.
He felt Hermione hold him, and tensed. He was not completely used to physical touches. He loved Hermione's hugs, really; he just liked the solace sometimes. In the years and summers he had spent with the Dursleys, he had learned something; if he was by himself, he could do anything and not be judged. When he cried from a particularly painful beating, or even verbal abuse, no one was there to judge him. Hermione could judge him. She could.
But she wouldn't.
So he began to shake. Then, for the first time in over a year, he cried. And Hermione began to sniff. Then she cried. She cried for Harry. She cried for Hedwig. She cried for the whole bloody world.
The tears streaming down Harry's face were relentless. He could've laughed to himself if he wasn't so wracked with guilt; why would he want to forget about Hedwig? Just the thought was nauseating, in hindsight. She was, animal or human, one of his best friends. She was his confidant, his only companion when he was locked up for the summer, the only one he could talk to when he didn't want to talk to anyone else.
And she was dead. Another friend lost to Voldemort.
The last friend lost to Voldemort.
"He dies," he muttered, his voice raspy.
Hermione, her tears drying, lifted her head from his shoulder and loosened her grip around his arms. He tilted his head towards her.
"I don't want anyone else dying," He choked, "and I don't want to wait. I know we have to, but I don't want to wait! I want him dead. I want them all dead. Not just for Hedwig. For Mad-Eye. For Sirius. For Cedric. Even for Dumbledore. I will kill them all."
Hermione shook her head. "No, you won't." As Harry was about to argue, she continued. "We will. I didn't send my parents to Australia to put Voldemort and his stooges in handcuffs." A new steely resolve became known in her, matching Harry's own newfound determination, stronger than ever. They both had stopped crying, and the resolve that they seemed to carry said that they were done for a while.
Harry leaned down and gave her a peck on the lips in appreciation. That lightened the mood and they both wiped their tears away. Harry slipped out his wand and undid the charm and Hermione grabbed her coffee from the other side of the table. She took a long gulp of the now-cold coffee, to calm her nerves.
They each enjoyed their coffee in silence, before Harry spoke again.
"If you named yourself H-Hedwig, our identities wouldn't be a secret."
Hermione grimaced. "I wasn't going to name myself 'Hedwig' - but I don't plan on having witnesses."
That got Harry smiling again. "We need a reputation. For that, we need a messenger. I don't want The Prophet making up a name for us."
She agreed. "I wouldn't trust them if the paper wasn't rigged by Death Eaters."
"So we need a new name for you… what about Huntress?"
She cocked her head to the side. "Huntress? Seems a bit too… predatory, doesn't it?"
"That doesn't exactly describe me, Harry."
"It sounds a lot like you. You may not know it, but when you decide you want something, it's a bit terrifying watching you go for it. You've got determination like no one else. You put as much concentration into finding a spell as I could put into doing a spell."
"That's hardly a good comparison, Harry."
"Fine, fine. You put more effort into freeing elves than I put into teaching Dobby that socks are supposed to match," he said with a grimace, and Hermione chuckled.
"I wonder how he's doing now," Hermione wondered, setting down her now empty mug.
Harry shrugged. "I'll call him when we leave."
"No need, Mister Harry Potter sir."
Harry snapped his head forward, Hermione following shortly after. "What?" Hermione asked, confused.
"Dobby?" Harry asked, looking around the fast-food restaurant.
"You can't summon him here!" Hermione urgently whispered. "Everyone will see him!"
He turned to Hermione incredulously. "You didn't hear him? He's already here!"
"Hear… no, I didn't," she kept looking where Harry was looking, confused. "I didn't hear a thing. You heard him?"
"Yeah…" Harry muttered, looking at the seat across from him – he knew he heard a voice from right there, but there was nothing in front of him.
"The Great Mister Harry Potter's Grangey cannot be hearing Dobby's voice, unless the Great Mister Harry Potter is allowing it."
"Um…" Harry muttered, "Dobby, why can't Hermione hear you?"
Other than a gasp from the woman beside him, it was quiet.
"The Great Mister Harry Potter, he is a great and smart wizard. He knowses many things, yes he does."
"Oh, no," Harry muttered, and he peeked at Hermione. She was looking at the space that Dobby apparently held, utterly confused. It was just the most adorable look Harry had seen on her, and appreciated the rare sight for a few more seconds, before he looked back at the seat.
"I give you permission to let Hermione hear you, Dobby," Harry spoke, and he couldn't shake off the feeling that he had just jumped into the veil.
"Great! Hello Mister Potter's Grangey!"
"Err… hello, Dobby," Hermione said slowly, after putting up yet another notice-me-not with her wand. "May I ask why I couldn't hear you, but Harry could? Is it because he summoned you, and not me?"
The silence that ensued was deafening in Harry's ears.
"Oh." Apparently, that was all she needed to turn towards Harry. He refused to turn towards her until he confirmed with Dobby that he was about to be yelled at for a reason.
"Dobby, did you –"
"Dobby is very, very sorry for interrupting the Great Master Harry Potter," he started, not realizing his slip of tongue, "but Dobby is noticing some very bad men here. They is friends of Dobby's former Master."
"Very – bad – men?" Harry repeated slowly, then froze.
Hermione tensed and stared hard at the spot Dobby was supposed to be. "You mean – Death Eaters?"
They could hear the flop of his ears when Dobby nodded.
On instinct, Harry lifted his feet onto the seat once again, crouched for an easy escape. He slipped the invisibility cloak from his pocket on his head and over himself, searching for the very bad men.
"Dobby," Harry started, "You're under a notice-me-not charm. I need you to be visible so you can point to them."
Dobby popped into view, already pointing to his right, their left. Two men were sitting across from each other, whispering hurriedly. They were both dressed in trench coats – strange, but not uncommon for the early morning. Occasionally, one of the men would glance around, with calculating, hurried eyes.
Harry leaped over Hermione and nimbly landed on his feet on the floor. He leaned back into Hermione's lap.
"How should I handle this?" Harry whispered, his eyes not leaving his targets.
Hermione knew he was basically asking what the least noticeable spell he could incapacitate with. Fortunately, she had visited the Black Library before their departure, and had quite the collection of Dark and Grey Spells. She muttered one such spell in his ear, before putting up her wand and tapping her head. Immediately, she felt the effects of the disillusion spell, as she had the sensation of an egg splattering across her head, before dripping down her whole body. She looked down at herself as the spell was complete and smiled at her work. The whole time, she had her hand on Harry's shoulder, making sure he didn't move without her.
Harry waited patiently, not having a clue as to why she didn't release him yet, but not arguing unless his targets decided to leave. So he was surprised when she asked him to move over, and when he did, he was surprised to see an almost invisible Hermione crouch next to him. She winked before she took his hand.
Harry had to grin – Huntress was a good name for her.
As they slowly moved together towards the unsuspecting predators, Dobby snapped his fingers, making both Harry and Hermione completely invisible. He then became invisible again and surveyed what was about transpire, ready to jump in at any time; ready to protect his bonded Master.
Only a few feet away from them, Harry recognized one of them – Goyle Sr., one of the men that was captured in the Ministry. He didn't recognize the other man, and he didn't care. They released each other and quietly took their seat next to the two men, Hermione sitting next to the unknown man and Harry next to Goyle. They slowly raised their wands, and for the first time they noticed that they couldn't see them, or the hands holding them. Harry stared dumbly at the wand he knew he was holding until he looked over to Dobby. He couldn't see the little elf anymore, but he was pretty sure he was smiling. Turning his attention back to Goyle, he slid his wand out of his cloak and pressed the wood into his neck.
"Scabior," he muttered.
"What?" He asked, wondering why Goyle stopped in mid-conversation.
"Found 'im," He murmured, and Harry made himself known to the man named Scabior by pressing the tip deeper into the vein, making a noticeable hole in his throat. Goyle winced with pain, but didn't dare bring attention to their table.
Scabior went for his wand, only to realize it was gone. Then he felt the tip of a wand embed itself into his temple, and jumped in surprise, banging his knee on the table.
No one noticed. Harry once again suspected Dobby. Taking a gamble, he removed the cloak. He was still invisible. He planned on using that to his advantage. "You know who I am?" Harry whispered, making sure to keep his voice disguised. He was asking Goyle, but it was Scabior who replied.
"Can' bloody see ya…" he murmured, very aware of the wand poking the side of his head. "Damn blood-traitors, or are ya Mudbloods?…Gaah, dammit!"
"I'd watch my tongue," Hermione growled, "if I were you. It'd be easier if your jaw wasn't in the way." Quick as a flash, he felt another wand tip poke his chin.
Harry had learned something about himself on Tottenham Court Road; when there was business to be done now, there was time to be nervous later. Other than a small, unnoticeable stutter in his breath, he was, for the most part, calm. It did, however, help that he was remembering those he had cried for, and what group was responsible for that.
"Then he wouldn't be able to talk, dear," He murmured, and Hermione smirked at the casualness of his words. She felt no reason to be nervous yet – just pleasant, mocking conversation, her mind temporarily blocking out what they had planned for the two Death Eaters to help her focus better.
"We won't talk," Scabior whispered hurriedly. Goyle seemed to be too scared to speak.
"So what do you think, Phoenix? If they're not going to talk, we don't need them anymore, right?"
"You read my mind," He grinned.
"Like a book." A second later, she removed both wands from her captor.
Scabior released a breath he didn't know he was holding. "I don't know 'oo the bloody hell ya'are, but when we find you, and we will find you…" he stopped as he felt his eyes droop. "We're… gonna… kill…"
He was asleep. Hermione put away Scabior's wand, but kept her own wand trained on him, as it was her first time casting the dark spell that she had told Harry about. It was a spell designed to keep its victims asleep for however long the caster wishes, which can be righted with a simple 'Ennervate', but only by the original caster.
What made the spell 'gray' was that it did not shut down the bodily functioning like regular sleep did. They looked, acted, and sounded asleep. But they weren't, the brain didn't recognize it as such. It was a very useful spell, Hermione had to admit.
Harry had already cast the spell on Goyle, and his head smashed violently against the table; Harry felt no real need to stop it.
"You're not the only one that can read people like a book, Huntress."
Hermione shifted her head to him, even though she couldn't see him. "Then you'd know I don't like that name," she chuckled. "I still have an hour to think of one. If you can read my mind so well, Harry, tell me what our plan is."
Harry didn't pause. "We take Scabior down. He's not going to talk, at least anytime soon. I trust Goyle to talk sooner. We show him what we could do to him, he'll likely talk."
Hermione blinked. She blinked again. Then she just closed her eyes and sat back. She opened her eyes once more to see a now visible Harry grinning smugly. "Cheeky bastard," she muttered, pouting.
"Oh, shut it, we're about to kill a man."
"It could be worse."
"How much worse could it be? We get killed?"
"Even worse – we could be expelled."
Hermione broke into laughter as Harry said it all with a straight face, which soon dissolved into chuckles. "I should be insulted, I really should," she told him, trying to stay quiet. "But I'm more embarrassed that you remember me saying that!"
Harry shook his head, still chuckling, as he stepped out of the booth, slipping his cloak back into his large pockets. He pointed his wand at the unconscious fat man and flicked his wand. Goyle started levitating. He looked over to where Dobby was supposed to be, silently communicating. He heard a pop and looked back at Goyle and himself to see nothing; Dobby had done well.
Harry was very impressed with Dobby's magic. He still remembered Dobby blasting Lucius halfway down the hall years ago, and hoped that he could ever be anywhere near that level of magic.
With an almost silent pop, Scabior was invisible as well. Hermione wordlessly stood up from the booth and levitated him.
Cancelling the charms around them, and leaving a ten pound note on the table, the two left the establishment. Seeing no one around, they unceremoniously dropped the bodies to the ground and each placed a foot on them. With a pop, they vanished – not that you could see them anyway.
Neville Longbottom was in danger. He knew that, and he knew it very well. He may have been a Pureblood, but he was a Blood-traitor. It certainly didn't help that he had escaped Bellatrix Lestrange's wrath.
That night, sixteen years ago. Tuesday. It was three days after Voldemort's defeat, and Harry's parents' deaths. His parents were organizing James and Lily's funeral, and had sent baby Nev to Augusta's house for the week. They sent him that morning.
The Lestranges and Crouch came that night.
They refused to say where he was. They paid the price. It was so easy to blame his own parents for their demise – why couldn't they just tell them where he was? He wasn't worth their sanity!
But they were foolish enough to think that he was worth it.
He wanted to be like his parents. Foolishly brave. Reckless. Fearlessly loyal.
He picked up a seemingly random galleon and cast a spell.
Dumbledore's Army was reforming.
Luna was packing for the new year at Hogwarts.
It was a wonderful wedding she had gone to a few weeks ago. Bill and Fleur looked so happy before all that unpleasantness happened.
Hermione and Harry seemed to have been getting along better as of late. She was pleased.
She knew the differences. She saw the changes. She was unsure of the consequences.
But they looked fun. She wanted to see it firsthand.
She found herself packing two suitcases.
She soon took a break and began writing a letter. She didn't know what was going to be in the letter, but she supposed she would find out when she was done.
But, then again, it would be rude to read a letter meant for someone else, wouldn't it? Yes, she decided. It was an invasion of privacy. She would finish it, quickly roll it up and send it off.
The spark in her eyes disappeared. She missed Hedwig. She was such a pretty and kind bird. She always delivered her letters when she called, whenever Harry wasn't using her.
Or maybe she just loved radishes?
Who would deliver her letters now? The Wrackspurts would undoubtedly eat the parchment before it left the window, just like last time. The Heliopaths would probably deliver it, but they were much too slow, since they were limited to the ground. Not to mention that the parchment would burn.
She looked up from her desk just in time to see a flash of fire.
Harry and Hermione stared at the two unconscious figures before them. They were all twenty meters from the tent, outside of its protections.
They knew their plan. They knew why they had to act on it. But they weren't sure if they should. Not the 'killing'. They had admitted, while it was rather cynical of them, they would do it. It was a necessity. No, they weren't sure if it should be Harry and Hermione that should take action, or The Phoenix and The Huntress.
"What do you think?" Harry asked her. "We're on the run – Tommy knows the first part of the prophecy – if we start taking out his forces, it wouldn't be that hard to figure out. Not to mention… you know."
Hermione nodded with a grimace. She was well aware of his visions through Voldemort's eyes. Nothing much had happened that wasn't in the newspapers. Ollivander was still alive, he hadn't finished making the first substitute wand yet. With a little fishing, Harry found that Voldemort would give him four chances to make him the perfect wand. After that, he would be killed, successful or not.
While using Voldemort's sight, he couldn't help but glance over the furnace to see a coat of arms. "Sanctimonia Vincet Semper."
He knew one part from fourth grade history. Semper, as a part of Sic Semper Tyrannis, means 'always'. Sanctimonia…shouldn't that mean sacred, or sanctuary maybe?
'Purity Always Conquers,' he thought idly. It angered him and pleased him in a way that he couldn't understand. His muddy past kept him from enjoying the motto. While he indefinitely proved the motto wrong, he was preaching that it was completely and utterly correct. Lucius's family motto was to be the stable of a new era, the most commonly known words in the Wizarding World, and the new adage for all families in the future.
With a shock, Harry snuck out of Voldemort's mind and opened his eyes in a cold sweat.
He hadn't told Hermione about the vision he had a few hours ago, while he was sleeping. He was planning to tell her during breakfast.
However, plans change.
"But if we do use our aliases, then Snape can't reveal anything. He probably wouldn't be able to connect it - he thinks he knows you. Same goes for Ron," Hermione commented, looking somewhat distracted.
"Hermione," Harry put his hand on her shoulder, "you don't have to do this. I can handle it."
"Hm? Oh. Oh, no, it's not about this. I was just thinking of a better name."
"Oh." He looked back at the unconscious gentleman, who looked to be knocked out for a while.
It was strange, really. Looking at the people you were going to kill. With Dolohov, it was unthinking; poorly timed, unplanned, and, in a way, rewarding. But with these two, it was pre-meditated. It was very disconcerting, telling yourself that you wouldn't get more prison time because of that small difference, because you weren't going to jail.
They may have been the good guys, but they were criminals.
But it was best not to dwell on that at the moment.
"Had another vision last night," Harry muttered, not sure if she heard him.
Of course, with news like that, she had to. "Really? What did you see?"
"Malfoy's Mansion. His living room, I think. Tommy's there."
That got her full attention. "Their manor? That's his hiding place? How did you find out?"
"Tom told me. He was mentioning The Malfoy's motto, Sanctimonia Vincet Semper."
Hermione was silent for a moment. "…Purity Always…Conquers. It certainly sounds like the Malfoy family motto. But are we sure it's theirs?"
Harry nodded. "He mentioned it being Lucius's family adage."
She sighed. "Okay. We know where he is. But we can't go after him – yet. We can hope he doesn't leave before we're ready for him." She crossed her arms and looked ahead, towards the tent. "Hmm… I suppose that could work." She turned back to Harry, smiling. "What do you think of the name 'Noctuanix?' (knock-chuh-eh-knicks)
"Noctuanix?" Harry confirmed, questioning. At Hermione's nod, he rubbed his shaved chin. "Is that Latin? Related to Phoenix?"
"In a way, yes. It roughly translates into Snowy Owl. I think Hedwig would have liked it." She gave him a soft smile.
"I'm sure she would," Harry grinned with happiness. "The only thing that would make her happier is if you added the Latin word for bacon."
They shared a brief chuckle with each other, until Goyle began snoring. That sobered them up quickly.
"We have to let him think that there is a threat to him bigger than Dumbledore could ever bring; we have to make him think that if he makes a wrong move, or try to pursue us, we won't hesitate to destroy his forces. And, most importantly, we don't want him – or anyone else, for that matter – to think that Golden Boy Harry Potter had anything to do with this."
Harry nodded with his partner. "We need better disguises than this, though."
"Maybe," Hermione agreed, "but it's a bit too late to make wardrobe decisions right now. I have an idea."
"Neville!" Susan grinned as she kneeled before her fireplace. "What's up?" She looked closer. "Oh, what happened! It looks like you've been crying! What's wrong?"
She couldn't see him shrug. "Hey, Sue," he smiled back at her. "Nothing's wrong, right now, anyways. Can I come through? I wanted to ask you something I should've asked a long time ago."
Susan blinked at his forwardness. "Sure," she said, getting up to step back. Neville had asked her out before the end of school, before the battle. She hoped he wasn't proposing or anything. Not that she'd say no if he did ask. In fact, she'd love to say yes. But not during a war. Of most people, she knew that no one was guaranteed to survive You-Know-Who's reign.
Neville stumbled through the green flames and fell into Susan's embrace. They hugged each other for a moment, until Neville stepped back to get a good look. "Are you alright?"
Susan hesitantly nodded. "Yes, I think so. It's been a year already. She wouldn't want me to keep crying over her. She'd want me to help avenge her and my parents' deaths."
Neville gently tugged Susan to the sofa. "That's what I want to talk to you about."
"Oh, my DA galleon was buzzing this morning. So we're reforming? You didn't need to come here to tell me that," The strawberry-blonde smirked.
Neville smiled a rather hollow smile. "It has something to do with it. We don't have a secure floo line, and I didn't want anything about the DA being picked up." He frowned. "Speaking of which, we need a new name."
Susan couldn't help but feel a little sad that Neville's reason for visiting wasn't for personal reasons, but she quickly got over it. "Why? Dumbledore's Army is a perfect name for a war."
Neville shook his head. "With what I have in mind, I don't think Dumbledore approves his name being in it."
Susan observed his grim look and decided that he was probably right. "I should wake Hannah up, then?" She asked him, pointing towards the hallway.
Neville nodded wordlessly. He knew that she had been Susan's roommate ever since the last of Susan's guardians died. They had always been each other's rock.
It was good to have friends like that. Especially in this time.
Scabior woke first. He saw nothing. He quickly surmised that he was blindfolded. He didn't dare move, not wanting to alert his captors that he awoke.
"Oh, good. You're awake."
He almost growled at the definitely feminine voice. It was the same one that had knocked him out.
"Were you serious about saying you were going to find us and kill us?"
He tried to remember what she had gotten that from, and frowned at the decidedly stupid words he had said to someone who had stolen his wand.
"Wha' d'ya wan'? Money?"
"I want you to answer the question." A small pause. "I already emptied your pockets."
"No, Ah didn' mean it." He did.
"I see." She didn't sound convinced. "So, if I asked you a few questions, and let you go, then I suppose you wouldn't report this to anyone, right?"
"Oh. Okay, then. Name?"
He wasn't sure if she was genuine, faked being stupid, or being genuinely stupid, but he answered the question, wondering if he really would be let go. "Scabior."
"I don't want to kill you, Scabior no-name."
"Ah. I suppose you're the youngest brother." It wasn't a question, more of a confirmation. He found himself nodding anyway.
"Now answer me this – why haven't you joined Volde – "
"DON'T speak his name!" He screamed, before blanching at his own stupidity. He could have been saved! His captors obviously didn't know about the Taboo. More Snatchers could have arrived, captured his captors, and –
Probably would have killed him. Bounty hunters didn't really like competition.
The girl sounded pretty relaxed about saying his name, and he couldn't afford another mistake. With a grimace, he spoke again.
"It's a Taboo. If'n you say 'is name, they send ou' people like me. I wouldn' do it."
"Hm. Good to know." In his perspective, it sounded like just another useless fact. She was silent for a few moments. "Well? Answer the question."
He wracked his brains for the question. "Err…I can' be a Snatcher an' a Death Eater. Can' get paid tha' way. Death Eaters can' work for th' Ministry."
"Paid? As in 'bounty'? What's the reward for anyone that says his name?"
"What about a Mublood? A blood-traitor?"
He frowned at the terminology. Was this girl on their side? Maybe she really was going to let him go, and she just wanted a few answers. He felt better answering her questions. "Blood-traitors two thousan'. Mudbloods are twen'y five 'undred. More 'an they're worth, if ya'ask me."
"I didn't," the voice calmly noted. "I believe I asked you everything you'll be able to answer. I suppose I should thank you in some way."
Scabior found himself smirking. He liked where this was going.
"I suppose Phoenix wouldn't mind," She muttered, and his blindfold slipped off his eyes. He saw an unfamiliar, but shockingly beautiful face. He vaguely remembered 'Phoenix' being her partner's name. Boyfriend, maybe?
"Do you know who I am?" She whispered to him, but not as sexily as he wanted; it was more of a curious tone.
"No," he grunted. He went to reach out, and grimaced.
He had just realized his body was immobile, his hands bound behind the chair. He didn't even try to escape, not once. But he had a feeling that he was going to be glad he stayed.
"Then perhaps you know my best friend." She spoke normally, hunching to meet his eye-level.
"Oh? And 'oo would tha' be, missy?" He was already thinking of her equally beautiful friend in part two of his 'interrogation'.
"His name is Harry Potter."
His eyes widened in shock. "Wha'? Wha'are you playin'!"
"Perhaps you know me – Hermione Granger?"
He began struggling; he couldn't move an inch. "Le' me go, ya bleedin' Mudblood!"
"And now I know how to thank you," she told him, frowning for the first time. She got up and stepped back. "Harry doesn't react well to language like that. His mum was Muggleborn, you see. I could thank you by letting you go before he can get to you. But then, he'll probably be mad at me. Doubly so, because I used that wretched word. I have to right wrongs when I can, you understand. So what should I do with you?"
It took a few moments for him to notice that she was genuinely curious about his answer about what to do with him. After a bit more futile struggling, that basically consisted of twisting his neck back and forth, no other body movement, he conceded. "Azkaban, I s'pose." He sighed as he said it. He'd have to start all over again. He had only caught a few small lawbreakers, and that was barely enough to pay his way out of the prison. He'd have to get Amycus to send him a few extra hundred, which was no easy feat. His only solace was that while he was twisting his neck, he had studied his surroundings. He saw a distinctive mark in one of the trees and he committed it to memory. He would concentrate on it again, and would pop back later. With company. And maybe, for the right price, his Lord.
"I don't think so," He barely heard her say, before she lifted her wand. He didn't see her unsheathe it.
The only thing he really had time to calculate was the hitch in her voice.
He probably would have wondered if it was her first time casting that spell. If it really was, then would it have the hate behind the curse to kill him? But by then, the spell had hit him. His questions were answered – but he would never know.
Hermione stared at the limp body of Scabior Carrow. Her first victim. She didn't react; she only stared. Just stared.
Harry stood in her way and wrapped her arms around her. Hermione found herself hugging him back. She wasn't going to cry – he didn't deserve her tears – and, if she were honest, she just didn't really feel like crying.
So she held him. Emotionless.
She knew what war entailed. She knew the sacrifices she had to make. She knew how far she had to go to end this pointless war as soon as possible.
It didn't make it any easier.
"I'm sorry," Harry whispered to her, His hands in her hair, holding her head to his chest.
It wasn't his fault. But she felt like she could blame him. But he still felt the need to apologize. Sweet.
She certainly didn't feel any better. But she was getting there.
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley,
Arthur quietly left the room, letting his youngest son recover, after doing as many healing spells as he could. None of his injuries were life-threatening; the permanent markings, however, were just that – permanent. Several large bruises on his stomach. His jaw was swelling. His nose was fractured; dried blood covered his face, that Arthur cleaned up. His arms took quite the beating as well, but not quite broken. He would need Poppy to look at the rest. She was the best medic the Order had on hand. He just hoped she took late-night calls.
He left his son with the ghoul in the attic, and stepping down the stairs he took another look at the note.
He really didn't know what to think about it.
Best not let Molly see it, though.
The number one thing to remember in an interrogation is the questions.
Harry had forgotten them. Hermione was a godsend, though, as she had already asked them all with Scabior, just to see how far she could get. He answered them all truthfully, to their knowledge.
The Taboo? Neither had ever heard of such a thing. It did give new meaning to why people were scared to say his name. Was it Taboo during the last war?
It wasn't big enough a question to wake up a Death Eater about it.
Which led to another question: What should they do to the Inner Circle member? Their original plan had turned out better than expected – they no longer needed him. They could send a message with their new names, but they could do that at another time. Hopefully, with better disguises. He was very doubtful of Goyle's knowledge of the Horcruxes. If any of his followers knew anything about them, it would be the Elder Malfoy, Bellatrix, or Snape.
But Voldemort wasn't stupid enough to trust a double-agent with that information, loyalty or no. Lucius had already been entrusted with a Horcrux, and he likely wasn't going to be given another one anytime soon, if he even knew what it was to begin with, which was doubtful.
So that left Bellatrix as the most likely suspect. They weren't even sure that Voldemort would have even given more than one of his followers one of his precious pieces of soul, but it was the only lead they had.
But Goyle couldn't confirm it for them. And he wouldn't be able to help them lure in someone who could. Harry had the feeling that even if they killed him, a member of the inner circle, he wouldn't be missed, or even remembered.
They were a good mile away from the tent, now. The same landmark Scabior had recognized was their own apparition visual, for they had carved it to return to that place – A circle inside of a triangle, with a vertical line splitting the symbol.
A few minutes later, Harry came up with an idea.
Almost a full 24 hours later, after not being fed, watered, or even let out of the chair, Goyle finally gave in to their demands, croaked out his master's anagrammed name, and cried.
Snatchers appeared, three of them. They took one look around, and couldn't help but feel that they were in a trap.
There was a large fire surrounding them. But it wasn't engulfing them. No, it was a short fire, as short as the tallest grass.
However, what made it large was that it was spread across the entire opening. of the forest.
While one of the snatchers levitated the source of their next paycheck, the other two stepped back and over the fires, until they had reached the edge. One of them had realized that it wasn't just random flames; it was writing.
The other one was already climbing a tree before the smart one had suggested conjuring a ladder.
He found himself hanging onto a branch, for dear life. It had sounded like a good idea moments ago, but now, not so much. He looked at the surprisingly neat script – there was obviously magic keeping the fire from spreading. He read the simple message out loud.
"It says 'Beware the Phoenix and Noc-chay-nix!'"
The other man had already conjured a ladder, and was reading it with him. "No it doesn't, ya blubberin' idiot! It says Noctuaenix!"
"Isn't that what I just said?" He yelled back, but he didn't get an answer. The branch broke.
The man on the ladder looked behind him as his partner fell to his death. He was so shocked he didn't see the red spell hit him from the front. He, too, fell from the tall ladder.
The first man – the one who had levitated Goyle – didn't notice any of this. He had already apparated back to the Ministry. He would return ten minutes later with the bounty money, wondering why they hadn't returned, only to see his partners lying on the ground, dead, surrounded by the dying fire.
He didn't notice the Sectumsempra aimed for his back.
As his senses were fading, he felt the mighty bag of galleons being hefted beside him. Then there were two pops.
He was alone. Then, he was dead.
'Phoenix' and 'Noctuaenix' didn't feel any pride in what they did. They had sent their message, and they had gotten several thousand galleons. Apparently, an Inner Circle Death Eater that seemingly betrayed the Dark Lord was worth ten thousand Galleons.
They wished they were cynical, or even a bit cold-hearted, so they would be happy with their accomplishment.
But they wordlessly changed clothes and went to bed.
An hour later, Hermione tentatively slipped into Harry's bed. Harry, obviously not asleep, decided not to argue, and they pulled each other closer.
The only thing that brought him any sort of happiness at the moment was Hermione conveniently forgetting about Dobby being Harry's slave.
I felt that this chapter just got better and better as it goes. Not too rushed, but not too slow. I try to get better with each chapter. Unfortunately for me, considering how much we have to get done between now and the end of the book, I'm not ending this story anytime soon; especially if I keep taking breaks like these.
Harry and Hermione's story from the cafe scene onwards was two weeks after Ron's departure. This was the first time H/Hr shared a bed, in case anyone was curious.
Neville's story was a few days before they return to Hogwarts.
Arthur's story was later night.
Luna's story was the same time as Neville's.
If it helps, read Scabior's lines as The Penguin from Batman: Arkham City.
Some of you can already see where some of these stories are going. I have to say, this is the first time I've ever actually thought about what to type before I typed it. Should be a pretty fun ride from here on out.
Yes, yes, Harry and Hermione are a bit dark, but I like to think it's realistically dark. Let's face it, it's a war. I'm not a fan of casualties. Really, I'm not. But I'd rather it be the bad guys dying all over the place.
That being said, I don't really have any immediate plans to kill any good guys off. I'm just too good a guy to do it. I'm not being realistic in this way, and I honestly don't care.
In fact, in the next chapter or two, I'm gonna do something REALLY unrealistic. I've dropped a few hints. It will be fun to hear your theories on what I'm planning.
On rihaansfics dot com, I uploaded a somewhat humorous argument I've had with a Romione fan. I think it's worth a read. It's in the Documents section. Sorry, person-that-I-was-arguing-with, but I had to upload it. If it makes you feel any better, it's a pretty empty community of a website. Now people can see your argument, and probably jump ship... I'll get the harpoons.
It's my version of a Yahoo group, so if anyone wants to join, then thank you.
AN2: Noctuaenix is a working name, but I like it. Who can make a better one?
Please review. I'll do my best to reply to as many as I can this time.