Dark Hunting

He's dead, they told her. No one survives being Voldemort's prisoner for six months. Especially not Harry Potter. Hermione had listened to their words, seeing the pity in their eyes. She heard the whispers when they thought she couldn't hear. "Poor girl's delusional, so sad. Going mad." She wasn't mad, wasn't delusional. Harry was alive, she knew it, felt it. She saw him in dreams, chained to the wall, dirt covered and starved, but alive. He was out there, somewhere, expecting someone to rescue him.

"Hermione, even if he's alive, he could be anywhere. There's no hope we could ever find him, they told her, their eyes not meeting hers, not wanting to see the desperation that was there. "Our spies have looked; Harry isn't in any of the places You-Know-Who is known to be." Lupin being the first among them to speak the words. Cowards! Weaklings! Incompetent idiots who were willing to stand idly by as their hero was being held by a madman.

The cowards aren't going to do anything even if they knew where he was, Hermione thought as she feverishly scribbled down various passages from her book. She was so close, so close, she could feel it, taste it. The spell would work. The spell had to work.

"Hermione?" Ginny Weasley's voice questioned softly. Hermione looked up sharply at her, hurrying to cover the open book with unused bits of parchment.

"What?" Hermione demanded. Ginny flinched but came further into the room closing the door softly behind her.

"Hermione, everyone is worried about you- your obsession with finding Harry is-"

"Is what, Ginny?" Hermione hissed "Trying to find Harry is what? Foolish? Stupid? Hopeless?" Tears welled in Ginny's eyes, spilling down her pale cheeks.

"Hermione- Harry's dead." Ginny said softly. Anger swelled in Hermione and her ears buzzed. With no hesitation and with cruel deliberation, Hermione stood and swung her arm out viciously to backhand Ginny across the face. Anger and adrenaline had given Hermione enough strength to make the younger girl sprawl to floor, her nose bleeding heavily.

"If you ever say that again, I will not hesitate to kill you," Hermione growled.

Ginny blinked up at her, holding her nose. "Get out," Hermione snarled.

"You'll get it this time, Hermione; this time it's over. They all think you're insane anyway." Hermione raised an eyebrow at Ginny.

"They think I'm insane, do they?" Smiling faintly, she picked up her wand and flicked it opening the door for Ginny. "I'll show them insane when I bring back Harry." With one final glare at Hermione, Ginny scrambled to her feet and out the door. Knowing that her time was now limited, as Ginny was going to alert the other Order members of the little incident that had just occurred, Hermione had to think for a moment. She couldn't stay here now. She had planned on leaving soon, but perhaps not leaving quite so soon. Moving back to her desk, she gathered her notes. With a few flicks of her wand, her recently acquired books flew off the shelf into an open bag. Shrinking her books and bag, she casually threw it into a bag filled it with what she would need.

Glancing at the closet, wondering if she should empty it of its contents so no one would know what was in it. Finally deciding she had neither the time nor the inclination, she chose to leave the contents where they were. Taking one final look around her room, she felt a small pang of regret leaving it. She, Ron, and Harry had spent many sleepless nights in this room, talking, planning, reading. She felt close to Harry when she was in this room. Shaking off her melancholy thoughts, she strode out of the room and down stairs.

"Hermione?" Hermione didn't pause as Remus tried to stop her.

"I'm leaving," she told him unnecessarily. With a gentle but firm hand on her shoulder, Remus stopped her.

"Hermione, going out there is suicide." Her old professor seemed so much older now; his hair had gone nearly completely white, and he had so many wrinkles on his face they camouflaged his scars. He had aged years since Harry had been taken. "Voldemort is on the look—out for anyone with connections to the Order or Harry. You have both, plus you're a muggle-born. You are a prime target." Hermione hadn't turned around when he had halted her; her expression hadn't changed.

"Let go of me, Remus," she said, having long ago abandoned calling him Professor Lupin. After all, Hogwarts had long ago fallen under Voldemort's control.

"Hermione, he's right. The only chance we have of surviving is to stay here," Tonks said softly.

"Yes, let us stay here, cooped up, safe and sound. All the while, Voldemort and his Death Eaters are free to kill and torture innocent people." She sneered at the flinch at Voldemort's name. Even Remus, who had once said it, now flinched.

"Hermione, without Harry-" What Tonks had been about to say was cut off when, with a wave of Hermione's hand, both she and Remus were flung across the room.

Still emotionless, Hermione went on her way out of the house. Remus and Tonks were unhurt but winded.

"Was that wandless magic?" Tonks gasped. Remus stared after Hermione, his face worried.

"Yes." Without a word to the startled woman, Remus stood and raced upstairs to Hermione's room, knowing that there was only one way for someone to do wandless magic, without it being a talent they had always had. Hesitantly, Remus approached the only place he could think of that might hold the evidence he was hoping against hope wasn't there.

He opened the closet door slowly. He closed his eyes when his fear was confirmed.

Lavender and Ginny came rushing into the room and over to Remus's side to gasp when they saw what had frozen their former teacher. Propped up in Hermione's closet was a dead Draco Malfoy, his throat slit and ruins carved onto his pale chest.

"Hermione's practising Dark Magic?" Lavender whispered. She knew of the depths that Hermione would go to to get the job done. Still staring at the corpse of the young man, Remus nodded.

"Blood magic is the only way she could have suddenly been able to do wandless magic."

"Where is she going?" Lavender asked.

"Looking for Harry," he said simply.

# # # # #

"Now if this isn't fun?" Hermione said flatly. "I never did get the chance to introduce myself." Hermione looked at Petunia Dursley hanging upside down, held by magic. Hermione cocked her head to the side to regard the woman who had raised Harry. She saw nothing of her sister or her nephew in Petunia Dursley. Hermione had only seen pictures of Lily Potter, but she had been a lovely young woman, with eyes that had shone with intelligence and kindness. From what Harry had told both her and Ron about Lily, she was generally considered to be a kind woman that had been respected. Harry, who had not had an ideal childhood, could have easily been a hard and jaded man, but he had always held onto his inner goodness. He wasn't bitter or a particularly angry. He had been labelled a hero by his mother's sacrifice, but to Hermione, he had become a hero though his actions. But Petunia had the pinched look of bitterness on her face, even in her fear. She had taken in her sister's son, but had not truly raised him. She had allowed him to exist in her house. Whatever bitterness Petunia had towards her sister, she had allowed to Harry on to Lily's son. But now Hermione was going to help even the score.

"My name is Hermione Granger. I'm a friend of Harry's." After she had finished her perusal of the older woman and finding her lacking. Muffled grunts and screams came from the two people bound and gagged next to the stairs. Ignoring Dudley and Vernon Dursley, Hermione turned back to Petunia. "I'm afraid I don't have a lot of time to talk. You see, Harry has gone missing. No one can find him; in fact everyone thinks he's dead. I know better but the only way to find him is though blood magic." Hermione explained before pulling out a wickedly sharp knife. "I need a blood relative for this to work. And since you and Dudley here are the only ones, well- I promise this won't hurt for very long."

Drawing the knife along Petunia's slim neck, she ignored the gurgling noises as the woman choked on her own blood, and the muffled screams from her husband and son.

She caught the blood in a large bowl, watching with some fascination as it drained. Slowly, the woman stopped her frantic gurgling noises and was still. Hermione turned to Vernon, who was staring at his wife, his eyes slowly moving to Hermione. Crouching down beside him, Hermione observed him quietly.

"If it helps, you should know that her death is for a good cause. Without her death, I won't be able to find Harry," she said softly. Vernon stared at her with a strange mixture of hared and fear. It would be a cold comfort to the man, Hermione knew. What would he care if Harry lived or died? Reaching out, she brushed some of his hair out of his reddened face. For some reason she had the need to assure him that this was for the best. Perhaps it was her own need to justify what she was doing. "Without Harry, you and your family would die anyway." She smiled slightly. "In a way I'm saving you and your son. If your wife was anything like her sister, she would have seen that this was for the greater good." Once the steadily trickle of blood waned to the occasional drop, Hermione picked the bowl up. Sprinkling the other ingredients she needed to complete the spell, she finally lit the blood on fire. A putrid smell of charred blood filled the room. With three taps of her wand she said the incantation.

"Per Cruor of Prosapia Locus Unus Ego Peto"

Pulling out a picture of Harry, a lock of his hair, a piece of cloth from one of his favourite shirts, all tied together with a lock of Hermione's hair. Biting her lip she dropped the little package into the dish to complete her spell. Moving back toward Dudley, she brushed some of his sandy hair out of his sweaty face.

"If this doesn't work, I'll need to do the same to you," Hermione confided to the obese boy. Glancing over at the now burnt out bowl of blood that she had risked everything for, Hermione stood and moving so she could peer into the bowl. She sighed in relief that the spell had worked. Inside the bowl was a piece of paper, a small map that showed directions to Harry. Should Voldemort move Harry, the map would show that movement. Looking over the map carefully Hermione saw several streets and names of buildings that she recognized it as Sussex. Having been there to visit family, Hermione had a place to which she could apparate. Hermione briefly thought about going back to the Order and asking for their help, but instantly dismissed the idea. No doubt they had found Malfoy's body in her closet. They had also likely used spells made to detect if Dark Magic had been used in a room, and would have found her old room saturated in Dark Magic. She felt no remorse for killing Draco. Through his foolish actions, he had not only been responsible for Dumbledore's death, but he had endangered the entire school. Hermione found it wildly ironic that she had used a pureblood to increase the power of a Mudblood. She nearly smiled when she thought about Malfoy's face when she had told him what she was going to do with his blood.

Turning to the remaining Dursleys, she winked. The blood drained from both Dudley's and Vernon's faces. "I have what I want. Hopefully, someone will think to check on you before you die of dehydration. If not," Hermione shrugged to convey her ambivalence to it their dying. Closing her eyes, Hermione apparated away with the sound of Petunia Dursley's body hitting the ground as the spell ended.

# # # # #

Hermione blinked at her new surroundings. The small wizarding market in Sussex had changed since she had been there. Before, it had been a bright and cheerful place. Magical pets could be bought here. They had all been wandering around a small enchanted area so they couldn't run away; the animals had always looked happy. It had also been a wonderful place to buy flowers. Colour had been everywhere, children playing in the street, the happy buzz of shoppers. Now it was dark and grey, filled with people who normally wouldn't have been seen during the day. The colourful flowers were replaced with plants that could kill either by themselves, like Devil's snare, or brewed into potions. The happy animals had been caged, looking starved; a few were even dead. Hermione pretended to look closely at the small pot of Devil's Snare, as she recognized Lucius Malfoy stalking through the street. He had changed so much after his brief time in Azkaban. His hair was no longer a long shining mass of blonde, but grey and greasy, hanging lank around his face. He was a lot thinner than he had been, with deep wrinkles in his formerly handsome face.

Once he passed, Hermione was sure to pull the hood of her cloak up over her face. She had come too far to be seen. She had to save Harry. Moving to a darkened alleyway, Hermione paused at the door of a club she had heard about. The Fantasy was a whore-house that masqueraded as a club for the rich and twisted. For a price, any of the whores would use Polyjuice to become anyone you wanted. All that was needed was a single strand of hair. Polyjuice potion would come in handy. Get a Death Eater's hair, sneak into where Harry was being held without notice. The only problem would be the Dark Mark. Unlike most tattoos, scars, or other distinguishing marks, the Dark Mark wouldn't be part of the transformation. And only Voldemort knew the spell to put the Dark Mark on human flesh.

"I only need it temporarily," Hermione muttered to herself. "I could–" The door to The Fantasy slammed open, nearly hitting Hermione as a woman staggered out. Hermione whipped out her wand, ready to defend herself if necessary. The woman turned, her hair sticking wildly out to the side, her face covered in a bruise. She looked familiar, but under the bruise and swollen cheek, Hermione couldn't place her.

When woman spotted Hermione, she stared at her for several long moments.

"Granger." Startled, Hermione looked closer at the woman to finally to be finally hit by recognition.

"Pansy?" The two women stared, dumbfounded, before realisation hit Hermione.

Her face lit up into a smile. "Pansy, you don't know how delighted I am to see you. Stupefy!" Kneeling down next to Pansy, Hermione looked into her former classmate's scared eyes. After she had stunned the girl, Hermione had pulled Pansy further into the alley so they wouldn't be interrupted. She had then enervated the girl and silenced her.

There would be a lot of screaming.


And so ends Chapter One.

I have had this saved away for some time, but haven't released it for reasons related to my other stories. Oddly enough, Chapter Two is already written, and I am currently working on Chapter Three. Chapter Two will not be released until I have completed several other stories first. Expect a wait of about 2 weeks…

Thanks go to DarkGoddess2002 for allowing me to use her story "Chilling" for some of this fic. If you don't believe me, then you can PM her yourselves.

Pixel And Stephanie Forever