Chapter 56

School hadn't even been back in session a week and Harry could see the strain in the eyes of a great many students. Oh, no one came right out and said it, that they were dealing with some more elevated levels of chaos lately. After all, this was a school for magic and a little chaos was bound to occur after all. No one wanted to be branded a pathetic weakling unable to cope with school trivialities. Hopefully no one would speak up until the terrible twosome had something deliciously wicked underway and no one could stop it.

For the most part Harry and Marshal were even being left out of it. Harry suspected that was in part because he'd brought them where they wanted to be, and partly a nod to Marshal not tattling.

The Headmaster wasn't at his usual seat today which Harry thought was odd, but made no comment. Either it was nothing to worry about, or more likely, something to do with whatever mischief Dana and Corey were up to. Either way, Harry didn't want to make anyone overly worried. He scraped some eggs onto his plate and ate his breakfast, mentally going over his homework in his head.

Theo growled to himself. How in the seventh circle of hell did muggles live like this? For that matter, how did they eat? He'd called out multiple times to have someone bring him his lunch, but no elf had appeared. Hermione had told him that she'd been dropping him off at a fully stocked and functioning apartment, but clearly that was a lie if there was no elf or even servant.

Upon wandering into the kitchen to make himself something to eat, like some sort of beggar, he'd come to find all the cupboards filled with cans he could not open. Seeing two large white boxes off to the side, he'd opened one and found it full of food, all of it frozen solid. Afraid to see if the other box contained onto melted foods, he'd grabbed a few popsicles and gone off to sit in the living room.

He'd found a few books to keep him occupied, but the question of food remained in the back of his head until he found a lone cookbook nestled in the thickets of what was clearly a horror section of the shelf. Eagerly pulling out the book, Theo opened the first page to find it was a child's cookbook, complete with illustrations and detailed instructions. Apparently that other box did NOT hold melted foods, thank the gods! And that black box off to the side was a cooking device called an oven. He also learned that if he did not wear protective gloves when using that oven, he would burn himself. All of this was very useful information. Living like a muggle was going to be a breeze with this book handy.

While it was the middle of holiday, Hermione decided to catch up on some of the charms Theo had thought she would have known before getting to school. She decided it would probably be best to just start in the beginner's area of the library but most of the spells she found there weren't exactly of the friendly sort.

She'd found a few books though that didn't seem to want to literally bite her hands off for reading them. True enough there were cosmetic charms, personal grooming spells, all kind of things. Unsure if there were dampening wards around the house, she didn't chance trying the spells out, but she did pull out her own notes to copy the spells for later.

As she was jotting down her notes, her father walked into the library.

"Hermione, why am I not surprised to find you here in the library?" He asked with a smile.

Hermione returned the smile with one of her own, if a bit smaller and more unsure. She still wasn't entirely certain how to deal with the man in front of her, her father. He seemed to be making the effort though, and she would try to return the favor.

"Hello... father. How are you today?" She asked, trying not to trip over calling him by his new station in her life but failing miserably.

"I'm well Hermione. I realize that it is a bit of a turn of events and calling me father may occasionally feel odd, but I hope that you can come to some sense of acceptance." He told her, his smile turning sad.

Hermione frowned to herself. She didn't know how easy that would be. "To be truthful I don't know how long that will take, but I'm working on it." She offered.

Harry sat writing a letter to Voldemort.

Dear Vol,

I know Hogwarts is still in the middle of holidays, so Hermione and Theo should still be there. I was thinking about the situation at Hogwarts and by bringing Hermione, a muggle-born who realized her true heritage, to our side it's possible that the perceived acceptance might later be used to bring more to you at bended knee.

I understand that she can't be outed as a follower just yet, but it might be possible to have her scouting for new followers. As a muggle-born no one would suspect her.

Corey and Dana got here well enough. Marshal is leery of their presence. Apparently they are the true nature of chaos, the current state of the war is irrelevant to them. I find myself more than excited by the possible tricks they will have up their robes but so far they haven't been up to anything.

I already miss the feel of you and can't wait to be with you again,

Harry

Voldemort read the letter a few times, unsure what exactly was going through his beloved incubus's mind to suggest such a thing as using the newest member of a supporting family. She hadn't even pledged herself to him!

That was an idea though.

He could always just get her to pledge herself to him. If nothing else he could gauge her possible loyalty and in the meantime have her sworn magically to secrecy. She'd always been particularly loyal to Harry when he'd gotten reports of their exploits, certainly more loyal than that Weasley boy who was always hanging on to Harry's coat tails.

As he thought of it, Hermione was certainly a better addition than Weasley would have been. More intelligent and loyal, if he could actually convince her to join him wholeheartedly then he would truly have the best asset in Hogwarts imaginable.

Decided, he sent an elf to fetch the girl.

McGonagle was at her wit's end.

No matter what she did the wards still weren't going back up. They were weaker than those the 3rdyear students made when they first learned about making wards.

She thought about hiring a ward master, at least conscripting the help of the other teachers, but the mere idea of word getting out scared her right out of the idea. Students had ways of finding hiding spots that no teachers could find.

If a student heard any of the teachers discussing the issue amongst themselves when they thought they were alone, what one student knew, so did all the others. Instead she gathered all of the most powerful protective treasures she could find and placed them superstitiously throughout the castle.

It wasn't much, but hopefully it would be enough and no one would find out.

Especially Voldemort.