A/N: Sorry for the very long wait, but I completely forgot that I started this story as I got busy with school…oops. I found the first chapter on my laptop and decided to continue it. It's not the same storyline it would have originally been, but I'll continue it anyways.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything to do with Harry Potter.
"Ready to go?" asked Ron. Harry nodded before Hermione who was looking through her bag shook her head vigorously.
"No, we have to go to my house!" she exclaimed.
"What, why?" asked Harry.
"I'm so stupid. I stored some stuff in the basement to recover later but I left one of the memory vials that had my parent's older memories in. We need to get it in case Death eaters tear the place apart. They'll recognize what it is immediately. They'll know what I've done," Hermione was now frantic. Harry tried to remain calm.
"Ok, it's just a little detour. Let's go get it," said Harry. Hermione, not wanting to waste any time, grabbed both Ron and Harry's hand and disapparated right from their hotel room. They appeared a second later in a small suburb. Harry noticed that Hermione's house was significantly larger than the Dursley's but he pushed those thoughts to the side and drew his wand. Ron did the same as Hermione ran inside. "Follow her, I'll check around a little to see if anyone's here," said Harry. Ron nodded and jogged in after her. Harry looked around for any movement. He was a little apprehensive. We should have apparated under the cloak.
"Harry, come in, she got it. We'll apparate from inside the house. It was risky enough apparating out here," said Ron. Harry nodded and started his way inside the house. Only then did Harry notice that Hermione should have apparated them to the backyard at least. Though it's her parent's memories so she would be worried. Harry sighed and closed the door behind him. All at once the door burst inwards and Harry went flying. He quickly clutched his wand, turned around ignoring the pain in his back and cast a shield as another spell flew onto it. Ron ran from the other room hearing the commotion and started firing off spells outside the door.
"Stupefy, Impedimenta. Harry get into the other room, I'll cover you," shouted Ron. Harry ran past Ron. Hermione was in the living room, waiting for him.
"Anti-apparition wards are up," she said. Just then, Ron flew through the doorway and landed a couple of feet away from it. It looked like the adrenaline kept him going, because he got right back up. A figure in a dark cloak was coming in. "Incarcerous, protego" said Hermione and the Death eater, now that they noticed, was bound by thick ropes and fell over. Hermione held a steady shield over the doorway. "We can get out from the back," Ron and Harry nodded and turned to run the other way when four spells hit Hermione's shield in succession. The third one broke through but was deflected by Harry, while the fourth one grazed Hermione's arm and left a shallow gash from wrist to elbow.
"Ron, take her and go now," shouted Harry as he took cover behind a sofa. Ron led Hermione into the kitchen. Harry heard footsteps and concluded that there were three of them at least.
"Where are you Potter, you can't hide for long," said a voice that he didn't recognize. Harry ran from his cover and shot two stunners and an impediment jinx. All three hit one of the two Death eaters in the room, who looked out for the count for now as he flew into the wall and broke through it partially. Harry ran towards another sofa and put up a shield as he hid behind it.
"Impedimenta, diffindo," shouted Ron as he came back and caught the second Death eater by surprise. The Death eater flew into the wall and was cut up in several places. Ron ran towards Harry. Another voice came, this one much calmer.
"Come out now Potter, and we'll make this short. The Dark Lord wants you for himself," said the voice. Ron leaned his head to the side to take a look.
"Harry, it's Dolohov," he whispered. "We have to leave now." Harry nodded and stood up and started firing every spell that came to his mind. Ron stood up and followed suit. Dolohov blocked or parried every spell before returning fire. Harry and Ron crouched back down and conjured shields as they were battered by Dolohov's spells.
"It's over potter," purple flames ripped through both of their shields, but thankfully they moved from their previous hiding place as the couch incinerated almost instantly. Harry motioned Ron back through the door and noticed that Dolohov had revived the other Death eaters. Harry fired some more spells as Ron ran back to Hermione.
"Diffindo," shouted Harry at the Death Eater closest to him, who brought up a shield to block his spell. Harry ran out of his cover and went through the doorway where Hermione was with Ron behind the kitchen counter. He clutched his own back which was aching. Her left arm had a shallow gash in it. She was muttering something while pointing her wand at the wound which was healing painfully slow.
"We can leave through the back door," said Ron. The three of them got up and ran following Hermione who led them into the backyard. They heard another little explosion.
"We have to get past the wards they put up. Ron, keep a shield up, Harry give us cover," said Hermione as they ran through the backyard. Harry fired several spells over his shoulder as Ron kept up a shield to block incoming fire. "Over the fence guys," shouted Hermione. "Grab my hand," Harry jumped over the low fence separating Hermione's backyard and the neighbour's and grabbed Hermione's hand once on the other side. Harry looked back once more to see Ron's shield shattered by another spell by Dolohov, who was preparing to curse them yet again. The curse rammed through the fence, dismantling it hurtling towards them, just as he felt he was being squeezed through a tight tube.
Harry awoke to the sound of Ron snoring on the opposite side of the bed. He reached to his right to pick up his glasses and put them on. He looked around until he saw Hermione standing by the window looking out towards the Eiffel Tower. It was still dark out and Harry could see the full moon. It was beautiful. A gust of air blew in from the open window, as Hermione drew in a deep breath and revelled in the cool wind. She is beautiful. Harry was confused lately by the thoughts he was having about his friend lately; they were not entirely innocent. He didn't know why, but knew that they were always there in the back of his mind. However, now with the three of them alone, the thoughts were making their way to the forefront of his mind. He didn't know where these thoughts would take him, but he had no desire to stop himself. Hermione was in deep thought with her arms crossed as she looked towards the beautiful city of Paris. Harry decided not to disturb and just admired her from afar. Even when Ron had his doubts about him, Harry knew she was always by his side. Harry looked towards his best mate, deep in sleep. He knew from the bottom of his heart that Ron would never betray him, and his trust would never waver from him. For the next five minutes, Harry watched Hermione ponder, until he couldn't resist anymore. He knew he shouldn't do this. But Harry couldn't help himself. Was it really worth it to drive a wedge between their friendship at this point, and what about Ginny? The thoughts of Ginny at this point were at the furthest recesses of his mind. The last thing that Harry would do is go behind his best mate's back. Why did he seem so helpless all of a sudden? Why couldn't he control himself anymore? All he knew is that Hermione had been on his mind for far too long and he needed to act on it. He had to sort this out. Then, maybe he could let this rest after. Harry silently got out of bed and walked slowly over to Hermione and snaked his arms around her waist from behind her. Harry had expected her to be shocked and look back to see who it was. She did the exact opposite, and relaxed her body and leaned back into him. He put his chin on his shoulder and held her close to himself. He held her for a full minute before deciding to let her know that it was him and not Ron, but she beat him to it.
"It's beautiful isn't it Harry, the moon," she sighed softly and pressed her cheek into Harry's.
"Mmm," was all Harry could muster. Then as if a bucket of cold water had been poured onto her head, Hermione's body went rigid. Harry let her go and turned her around. She kept her eyes down. "Hermione," said Harry as he lifted her chin. When she finally looked at him directly, he could see her eyes were full of tears that were threatening to fall out. Harry quickly enveloped her in a hug. Harry didn't know what was going on but he held her close, and they stayed like that until the sun rose. Had they been paying any attention to the bed, they would have noticed that Ron woke up the moment Harry had gotten out of bed.
"Harry, Hermione," said Ron. "Are you two okay?" Harry looked around to see Ron sitting on the side of the bed and watching them. Harry smiled and led Hermione back towards Ron. Ron looked genuinely concerned. Harry felt a little ashamed of doing what he did, but he couldn't get Hermione's words out of his mind. She knew it was him.
"We're fine Ron," replied Hermione. "We just got caught up in the moment." Ron looked at her a little confused but didn't comment. "You two clean up while I order some food," said Hermione. Harry quickly walked into the washroom to take a shower. It had been a week since they had arrived in Paris, and since they were almost killed or captured at the hands of Dolohov. Hermione made a full recovery thanks to the healing spells she found in one of the books they brought. Harry and Ron just had aching backs from when they were thrown around like ragdolls by Dolohov. They didn't dwell onto that for long. They had celebrated his birthday last night with a cake Hermione had ordered. Harry didn't want anything special, and with them on the run, Ron and Hermione didn't really have gifts for him. Not that it mattered, as long as he had the two of them. He walked out of the washroom and saw Ron and Hermione on the bed whispering harshly to each other. He hoped they weren't arguing again. What if they're arguing about what happened before? Harry mentally kicked himself for not being able to restrain himself. He walked over to them when they saw him. Their conversation came to an abrupt halt. Just then there was a knock on the door. The food was here.
"So, these horcruxes…" started Ron, leaving the conversation hanging. Hermione took one last sip of her juice and turned to look towards Harry, waiting for him to carry on what Ron started.
"The last and only clue relevant to one horcrux that we have is the note from R.A.B., and that in itself doesn't really help us much. As for any other horcruxes, we can only make speculations," said Harry.
"We need a way to track these down, otherwise we could be searching for years and not find one," exclaimed Ron.
"I think we should search places that were significant to Voldemort, it's what Dumbledore did," continued Harry.
"Yes, but Harry, even Dumbledore had to interrogate a bunch of people before he actually went to the cave with you. We don't want to run a fool's errand and get ourselves caught or killed," said Hermione. All three of them fell silent for a moment, remembering last week's events before Ron spoke up.
"Well then, we need to follow in Dumbledore's footsteps," both Harry and Hermione looked up to him confused. "Well, look at it this way, Voldemort apparently only kept objects of significance to him right?" both Harry and Hermione nodded. "Well those objects pertain to his life, so we have to interrogate those people that he kept close or that he associated with for any clue that might lead to an item of significance," Harry and Hermione sat stunned at this. Now they were getting somewhere.
"That's brilliant Ron, but just one problem," starter Hermione. "We're not really in any condition to interrogate anyone. The people most likely entrusted with this information would probably be people from his inner circle," finished Hermione.
"Yeah, you're both right. One of the horcruxes was entrusted to Malfoy, but like Hermione said, we can't really barge into one of the inner circle's house and demand where the horcrux is. Also, he hid the locket himself, Dumbledore recognized Voldemort's magical signature in the cave, so there's no way of knowing how many he entrusted and how many he hid himself. Argh." Harry was getting frustrated by the moment. Every new development led to a dead end.
"That's only the start of our problems," started Hermione. "Harry, even if we do find one, how are we going to destroy it. Last time you used a basilisk fang, and Dumbledore used the sword of Gryffindor, and we have neither of them," Harry's frown grew even more.
"And the fact that even if we do manage to destroy them all, we still have to face Voldemort. He might be mortal then, but there's a reason people are afraid to even say his name. He's the most powerful bloody dark wizard ever," said Ron. This just seemed to get more and more hopeless. The trio sat with their heads down mulling things in their own head. There were so many things they hadn't accounted for as of yet and now they were all hitting them full in the face.
"The biggest problem we have is that we can't face up to Voldemort or his inner circle in a duel, so we wouldn't even get a chance to interrogate them before they kill us on the spot. Let's face it, every time we came across them, we ran for our lives, and the only time we fought them, we had luck on our side. Even last week, Dolohov would have got all three of us if we didn't get out in time," said Hermione.
"Yeah, you might be strong, but Hermione's right mate, we're no match for them," said Ron solemnly. Harry nodded slowly, while he thought about the one sided duel he had with Snape and lately Dolohov. He couldn't even land one spell on them. Harry sighed at another obstacle that arose. This seemed hopeless before they even started. What could they do?
"Harry, we need to disappear for a while and study magic on our own, possibly at a much faster rate than we did at Hogwarts. I know that it'll take time away from the search, but we need more experience," said Hermione. Harry now thought of how Dumbledore had easily figured out how to get past almost all of Voldemort's wards. The blood ward, the boat and the potion. Harry's head sunk even lower. Both Ron and Hermione were right.
"How much time can we really afford Hermione, while we're off practicing magic, he could be killing off everyone we love and care about," said Harry. They were getting nowhere with this. After a moment of silence Ron spoke up.
"There's only one way…"
"Ron, no…we can't, we shouldn't," Hermione cut in before Ron could finish.
"Would you two mind telling me what you're talking about?" asked a confused Harry.
"With Ron being a pureblood, he would know…" said Hermione.
"Know what?" asked Harry again getting irritated.
"Harry, rituals to boost one's magical prowess, but they're extremely dangerous and then there're the sacrifices," Hermione shuddered. "It's unnatural," she glared at Ron for even suggesting this.
"I'm just putting this out there, I didn't mean to actually attempt this," said Ron. Harry looked at both of them. How bad can these rituals be? Would they give us a fighting chance? Harry's thoughts indulged themselves in these rituals for a minute before he decided to speak up.
"What are the consequences? How is it done? What would it do?" he asked. Hermione looked affronted.
"Harry, you can't be serious?" Hermione looked at him pleadingly.
"At least explain Hermione," he prodded her. Hermione frowned not liking this one bit, but relented.
"For one, if done wrong, a ritual can do the opposite of what you're attempting or kill you outright depending on what one is attempting to do. They have to be very precise. All of the rituals that I've come across in Ancient Runes required some sort of sacrifice…"
"What sort of sacrifice?" asked Harry who was regretting asking about this. He wouldn't sacrifice someone to increase his own magic. That was something Voldemort would do. It was probably something he had already done.
"It depends on the ritual. The sacrifice can be anything from live human flesh to your own emotions," said Hermione. Harry looked at Ron and knew their thoughts were similar. They could protect their loved ones if they were more powerful. Hermione however didn't seem convinced.
"If we could find a ritual that doesn't require us to kill someone…" said Ron as he looked at Hermione who put her head down.
"You know one don't you Hermione?" asked Harry. She nodded. "Well…" asked Harry awkwardly. Hermione stayed silent for a minute before seemingly bracing herself and looking up.
"The ritual is extremely complex, however it will give us what we desire," she went into her lecture mode. "It will increase our magical core's capacity as the ritual funnels magic from each person undertaking the ritual. It will peak the magical prowess of the larger cores and then the new cores will continue to grow normally as our original cores would have…" this all sounded very intriguing to both Harry and Ron. Not only would they become powerful by the end of the ritual, they will keep gaining magic as a normal wizard or witch growing up.
"So what is the sacrifice?" asked Ron sceptically.
"That's the problem, I don't know what the sacrifice is…" said Hermione.
"But…" started Harry but Hermione cut in.
"The book mentioned that the sacrifice would be done during the ritual, so we would not know what we would be sacrificing while we attempt this…The ritual would pick by itself," Hermione put her head down again avoiding eye contact with both boys.
"What aren't you telling us Hermione?" asked Harry gently.
"The book I read this ritual about was in the same book that I borrowed from Dumbledore's office," she looked up; they had already known which books she summoned out of Dumbledore's office.
"The book on Horcruxes…" whispered Ron.
A/N: The trio will be attempting the ritual mentioned, because I want to give them a fighting chance…Please review and give me ideas on what the sacrifices for each of the trio should be, as long as they're in context of what is written in this chapter, thank you. Darkpotter99.