A/U: SORRRY! Had a major writer's block, not to mention I went on vacation and didn't have a computer around me. Hope you'll forgive my absence. Honestly though, I was kind of depressed about how some people took to the story. I know I'm not the perfect writer but I still hope for the best. I also know that Riddle has a British accent, obviously, but you have to realize I'm AMERICAN. Lol. Just had the put that out there. I may notice things that will be obvious to you Europeans out there (not dissing just sayin')

Chapter 11: Reality

When the last group filed through the door Hermione stood in front of them all. The Room of Requirements had blue mats covering every inch of the floor and half the walls also, for precautions. One could never be too safe with dueling, especially the things she'd be teaching them; though they didn't know that yet.

She summoned a sheet of paper that she'd made especial for this reason. "Everyone that's serious about this and wants to join will have to give their signature. Once you sign this paper there's no turning back. If someone signs and snitches on us, or even brings up the topic to anyone who's not yet in our group or approved by me will have a nasty surprise," she smirked evilly at everyone.

All shivered in response. "Betray me and it will be the last thing you ever do." They nodded and looked at her determined.

"Why so serious about this? You're just teaching us right?" It was said from one of the people Eileen had brought with her. She turned her razor sharp gaze on them for a few seconds before responding.

"Is magic a jest to you? If you take your life seriously then you should take magic seriously. I don't know about you but magic is my life. To be in this group you will abide by my rules. These things are not to be taken lightly, if you practice what I taught you outside of the sessions it could go horribly. There are things that I have seen that you couldn't even imagine in your worst nightmares, and I will be teaching you defenses against them. You can't just go shooting these spells out at anyone; someone would ask where you learned it and it could turn terribly wrong. I will not be held responsible for foolishness. That's why I'm taking precautions." The girl almost swallowed her own tongue; her cheeks were pale and strained. Hermione smiled to lessen the lashing she just gave, but she must do it now or people will not understand. She still expected someone to test her limits, and she'd be ready for that someone.

"Also these coins I'm giving you will look like normal galleons but in truth they are what we will do to get a hold of one another in dire circumstances. Or whenever I need a meeting called they will heat up and show you the message that I think." They all nodded in wonder, she was a bit proud of that feat. Hermione herself had made them up when she was involved in Dumbledore's Army, otherwise known as D.A.

"Any questions?"

"Is this going to be an every week meeting or every month?" Daendra looked straight at her when she asked it. A sparkle in her eyes showed she was interested; she was the type of girl that wanted to kick butt though it was rare for this day and age.

"Every Saturday, unless you have something extremely important I stress this, not only for yourself but for others. There are many things that we can learn from each other that I could not teach," Hermione looked at each and every one of them in the eyes to get the point across. She wanted them to know that there were some things that weren't taught, they were just learned.

"What are we going to be learning that the professors can't teach us?" Hermione glanced to find piercing gray eyes not unlike Daendra's, but she believe the owner to be Cygnus Black. It was a very good question but with a simple answer.

"Do you think that every professor teaches you everything you need to know? Or do they do it because it's required of them? There are some things that teachers would not like you to know because some of you may be more knowledgeable than them or for their own personal reasons. Though I'm not saying that every teacher is that way, such as Dumbledore; many people think, wow, they're teaching me a lot. But stop and think… what aren't they teaching you?" She left it with a question to get them thinking. By the end of this lesson most people here will believe that they'd thought this all their lives. A little thing called inception.

Minerva stared at her before asking, "Is there a personal reason why you're doing this? I mean I understand that magic is important to you but I don't get why you'd take your time to teach us." She smirked towards McGonagall, very perceptive of her. Just a thing she'd expect from the next Transfiguration professor.

"It is best to learn by teaching is it not? I can't see a better way to spend my time than with you lovely people," Hermione laughed. "Who can say what I will learn? I openly admit that I can learn a lot from you, and you from me. And if there is someone more proficient in a certain study than me and at teaching it then they are welcome to take my place in teaching that meeting. I know for a fact that you are better at Transfiguration than me, I will not deny that I have faults."

When no one asked any other questions for a few more minutes she looked at the clock. It was later than she'd expected. Hermione smiled, she always did get a bit carried away.

"If there are no more questions than if you would like to join please come one by one to sign." Slowly people trickled over and signed the paper. There were only two people who did not move from their seats, a girl and a boy. Both she believe from Slytherin. Good thing she thought about this problem beforehand.

Hermione inquired to them, "do you not want to join?"

They looked towards each other with stubbornness clearly written all over their face, "We will not. This is all rubbish. All you want is for people to be under you, to follow you and we will not."

"Very well, I will ask you to leave the way you came if you please. And be quick about it. Don't let the door hit your arse on the way out." bursts of laughter followed them out the door.

Perrin looked towards her, "Hermione what if they snitch? They didn't sign the paper so they could flap their mouths to anyone. Even though they're the more trustworthy kind of Slytherin, no offense, they will still crawl back to Riddle. And if anyone can, he'll ferret the truth out of them." There it was, the truth was out and it went silent. They all didn't want to admit it but he was correct.

Hermione just smirked. "Good thinking, but I'm way ahead of you. If people walked out of that door first without me deactivating the spell beforehand their minds would be let's say, alleviated, from these certain memories. They would walk out of these doors to be transferred to different spots on the Hogwarts ground thinking they went out for a long walk and got lost."

"Brilliant!" Al said and was echoed.

Twix stared at her smiling, "you are meant to be a Slytherin after all Hermione. I didn't think you had it in you. But I guess I we were wrong." The rest of her friends nodded and grinned. It was a good thing she also made an improvement to the spell, where if by any chance someone would look into their minds with legilimancy they would find fake memories. No one knows who could be watching, but she had a feeling he was.

XXX

"Very good all of you now take a five minute break." They all conjured up chairs or just sat on the floor from magical exhaustion. Magic didn't just drain you magically it took away strength after using spells or enchantments for a long period of time. That's why she's teaching them the importance of stamina. When you're in a war there's no time to stop for a breather.

Eileen came up to her with a weary grin on her face, "you should be a teacher. You're a natural at this."

"Yeah, that was my dream once…" Hermione trailed off staring into nothing, a blank expression on her face. She tried not to let the memories get to her but sometimes they popped up at random intervals surprising her.

"Why isn't it anymore? What have you got to lose, I mean there's your whole life ahead of you." Prince seemed perplexed that she wouldn't want to do that anymore. Hermione seemed the kind to take the whole world in her hands and mold it to her liking.

With a sigh she explained, "Sometimes life doesn't go as expected. Once I thought there was nothing that could stand in my way, and then reality hit me… literally. Now all I want to do is relax, but I can't because I have a job to do and until I'm done I can't let my guard down or else he will systematically kill my world all over again."

"What do you mean he? Is that the person who… uh… killed your family?" Hermione hadn't noticed she let that slip until it was already said; she cursed to herself. Her face closed down and Eileen looked guiltily away.

"I don't want to talk about it," then to everyone, "Alright enough rest for you lot. We're going to play a game." There was cheering until they saw the smirk on her face and it slowly died down. "It is not your normal game, this is called War. My old friends and I made it up." She tried not to let them see her sadness but just continued, thinking how great this will prepare them. "Obviously the survivor will win. For now it's sort of a free for all, eventually I will get you into teams to see how your cooperation and communication skills are. There will be no hurtful spells, curses or hexes involved. If you use one you're disqualified and I will decide when you're ready to go back in. Only stunning spells or the like will be okay. Once your wand is out of your hand or you are stopped in some way you are 'killed'. Okay? Everyone go to that side of the room while I put up some obstacles for you guys."

When they were situated on the other side by the door she flicked her wrist revealing her wand. With many flurries of her hand boulders, trees, and all sorts of things popped up. Then some hills and other sorts of land they would have to go over. She couldn't form the Room of Requirements to fit her thoughts now because she was already in it but she could use conjuration. After Hermione put her wand away the whole thing was a jungle wonderland full of surprises.

"That was bloody brilliant!" A sixth year Gryffindor by the name of Jack Wood said when she was done. Smiling from all the praise she turned to them. She walked up to a little platform she created that stood above the whole jungle to observe them as they fought.

"I would suggest spreading out. I'll give you one minute to find a place suitable; you'll hear a ring to begin hiding, one to start War, and one to tell whoever is last they won." Looking at her expectantly they ran in opposite directions after the bell. Draco stayed an extra second to give her a look, her eyebrow shot up in response. He could only speculate at her now, not knowing exactly what she had in mind training this little army but he had a general sense.

XXX Faran Twix's POV XXX

Running after Perrin into the forest she glanced behind her to see Eileen and a boy she believed to be Broc Risin, or Al's younger brother. He had Al's same brown eyes but had dark blond hair cut the same way, though they shared the mischievous smile that made them quite dashing.

After some time she couldn't see Perrin anymore so Faran ran to the left behind a boulder surrounded by trees that only had one entrance; deciding it was a good place to defend she crouched there waiting for the bell to ring. It wasn't a long wait before the sound rushed through the Room of Requirements and even a shorter time before someone stumbled through the little hideout she had. With no hesitation Twix sent an Expelliarmus charm their way and disarmed them. Right as she charmed the girl with red hair a flash went to the sky that lighted the whole place with white light and her picture shown from above.

Hermione's voice was heard from above also, "first contestant is out, I will transport you to a safe area near the door, don't move." With a swish the girl was gone; Faran couldn't tell if it was Franchesca or Garwina Weasley. After that encounter Faran figured it would be best to move out since that white light would have her competitors crawling over here in seconds.

XXX Cygnus Black's POV XXX

He was a few feet away from where the white light came from when he saw Faran shoot from the bushes running. Cygnus had time to shoot a spell but he didn't have it in him, she's been his crush for the past few years and couldn't even think about hurting her in any way. All this time he's watched as she'd gone through guys that weren't even worth a penny; Faran was beautiful enough to have any guy in the school yet she chose the worst guys. Maybe it wasn't on choice but they always wanted only one thing from her and nothing else. It was horrible watching the same things happen over and over.

By then Faran had already went out of view and he missed his chance. Perhaps he should get over her since he knew she didn't even know his name. Now that she had her sights set on Jason Potter he didn't have a chance. Surprisingly he was actually a good guy, Cygnus should be happy she'd chosen someone worthwhile. Maybe he'd make her happy where he couldn't.

All these emotions were getting him down and distracting him, so he pushed them aside and jogged off, the opposite way of Faran not wanting to duel her.

XXX Hermione's POV XXX

All of them were very capable and determined to win that. She could see it in how they reacted to one another, but she was shocked when she saw Black didn't shoot at Twix. What was going on in his head? Perhaps there was something she'd missed? Did they know each other? Hermione seriously doubted it since Faran never mentioned it. She filed that away for later under interesting information.

Looking across her little man-made jungle she sighed. It was good that they were willing to fight each other but there was a lesson to be learned in this game and she wanted to see if anyone could figure it out. The only true way to win this game was to team up with someone. That way they could fight or protect from both sides, maybe even switch off and on. Although they would have to fight at the end didn't matter, it was those who paired up which she would see as the true winners. If they can't learn to cooperate or think with their heads not wands during hard times then they won't be able to survive a war or anything like it. Thought it may not come now, it'll come soon enough.

Another three lights shot up and Broc Risin, Trilla Longbottom, and Harry Grindor were out. Flicking her wand she sent them to the safe zone and continued watching. Each of their duelers sneaked away to find another prey. It was actually amusing to watch them fight each other, to find out their weaknesses and quirks. She figured out that Demetri Rosier favored the spell Glacius to freeze his opponents; Perrin liked Immobulus and Confundo, plus many others and their favorites.

One of the twin Weasleys was an absolutely amazing dueler, using her head just as much as her powerful spells. She seemed well learned and knew how to use it. Though the one thing she didn't do was defend much, Hermione noticed that she tended to end the fights early. It could be that her defense charms are weak and knowing that she ended battles quickly. Hermione smiled, that was the next lesson she decided. Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses then overcoming them with hard work and dedication.

Perrin engaged in a fight with Cygnus Black and white lights shot from each of their wands towards the other. It was looking down for Perrin when a third fighter came into view and attack Cygnus with a Petrificus Totalis curse which caused a light to flash above them. Alphonse and Perrin dueled it out while grinning at each other good naturedly. Perrin won as Alphonse was hit with an Incarcerous spell tying him up with ropes. Hermione transferred Al to the safe area and watched as others dueled.

It wasn't long before there was one person standing. The Room of Requirements she'd imagined hadn't been that big so they were all facing each other almost every second just how you would in a war. The last two duelers fighting were Draco and one of the twins. Figures that Draco would be left standing, he was in the war after all.

Draco shot Glacius at her and it narrowly missed the redhead as she flew to the side. They'd been so far evenly matched but she knew Draco would win. With all his Slytherin wits he would, though they were matched in power her defenses we weak and he would take it to his full advantage. As she got up he flew unending spells her way making her off balance and a bit shaken. The redhead finally stood her ground with a good Protego and sent flying rocks shooting at him using Wingardium Leviosa.

With a powerful protection charm he dismissed the rocks and shot Stupefy towards her which she sidestepped. Suddenly a magical trap surrounded her and she screamed in frustration, she'd been tricked. Draco smirked smugly as he taunted her through the walls by sticking out his tongue. Hermione rolled her eyes at his childishness but transported her out of it and looked towards Draco with a knowing smile.

"Congratulations, you won!" A wave caused the jungle to disappear and them all to be surrounded by chairs and couches which all of them sat in immediately. With a sigh she noticed that none of them had paired up, "Unfortunately no one got the real reason for this lesson. The ones who know that they might not be powerful magically could have banded up and taken the stronger. Or even vice versa. All of you are good duelers even some that are great, but a great dueler can be taken down by a good thinker. Use your heads not your wands! There will be times in life that your wands can't save you. I want you to learn there is more out there than power." She looked at each and every one of them with, as Ron used to put it, her mother face. "My saying is knowledge is power. You should take this into account. Now, I'm very proud of you all regardless. All were wonderful and before the end of each session I want to play this game so you'll get better at this. It's getting late so I hope you all had fun and before we go I have to deactivate the spell."

They all nodded in acquisition and watched silently as she did a few flicks with her wand and turned to smile at them. "To make it not suspicious I've made a portal outside the door so go one at a time. It will transport you to somewhere in the castle that's rarely walked in so as not to startle anyone. Good night!"

Daendra passed her and smiled warily, "that was brilliant. Loved it, it was good fun." Faran bounced by her still energetic and nodded her goodbyes while dragging Jason Potter with her. He half smiled at her as she pulled him along. One by one they filed out of the room her friends pausing to talk with her before leaving, even a few people she'd just met until it was just Perrin and her.

Putting his arms around her he gave her a light kiss, "you were amazing."

Snorting Hermione laughed, "What standing up on a platform while you guys dueled it out?" Zerxim laughed along with her when she explained it like that.

"No silly. The way you have with people is almost breathtaking. It's one of the reasons why I like you." He looked into her caramel eyes smiling lightly and brushed a straggle of hair out of her face gently as she gave him a confused look.

"What way with people?"

"You know," he shrugged, "people seem to follow you naturally. People want to be around you just to be there. It's like your aura has a life of its own. I don't know it's hard to explain."

"I'm glad you think so. Too bad everyone doesn't feel that way." Hermione looked away darkly, after earlier this night just thinking of Riddle put her in a bad mood. Why was he so judgmental of everything she did? Thinking about him reminded her of what she needed to do, but it was getting harder every day to do. There was a part of her that she didn't want to admit felt sorry for him. How would she have turned out if she went through what he did?

Shaking those thoughts off Hermione smiled up at Perrin, "Let's go. I'm tired and it's been a long day." Perrin nodded at her but didn't say anything. He had caught the feeling she didn't really want to talk and walked her to the Head's Room. When he kissed her she pushed against him and relished the moment of peace she felt before she let go and reality hit her… like it always did.