Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I am not the owner of either Harry Potter or the X-Men series. Both belong to J.K. Rowling and Marvel -Stan Lee- respectively. I'm just thankful they let me play with their brilliant characters.

Chapter 3

Hermione couldn't sleep. The young witch once more cast a wandless Tempus. Only twenty minutes had passed since she had first awoke. It was now just past four in the morning- roughly an hour before she had set her alarm to go off. In a manner entirely too reminiscent of her childhood nemesis to be considered healthy, she sneered at the numbers suspended next to her head. If it were possible for numbers to be smug, Hermione had no doubt that these ones would be the smuggest bastards of the lot. Those numbers were surely mocking her futile attempts to go back to sleep. They were just hovering there...idly blinking away the seconds and turning them into minutes whilst she tossed and turned.

Sending the bloody twinkling pests a venomous glare she reserves solely for things she truly despises, Hermione gracelessly flipped over onto her stomach to see if that would be more comfortable.


No matter how she turned or how hard she punched her overstuffed feather pillow, it just wasn't happening. Apparently her body had decided that she'd had enough sleep to sustain her sanity despite all evidence to the contrary.

Really... what sane person acts as if numbers derived from a charm are sentient?...Bugger! I've definitely taken one too many knocks to the head over the years.

With an overly dramatic sigh in response to her thoughts, Hermione rolled out of bed. Her bare feet let out an audible smack as they touched the heated hardwood floor. She padded over to the wall and flipped the switch- flooding the dark room in bright light.

Hermione blinked.

I really should have done more than throw up a few privacy charms before banishing the teeny-bopper posters into the rubbish bin last night. There is a distinctive lack of coffee or any other forms of caffeine, thus it is far too early in the day to see such a disgustingly cheerful color, she grumbled to herself.

The young witch raised one hand to cover her poor, unsuspecting eyes in an attempt to shield them from the blinding light glinting garishly off the lime green walls. She summoned her wand into the other and hurriedly flicked it in a few complicated patterns to change the color to something more mature and less migraine inducing.

Just what the healer ordered, that, Hermione thought smugly whilst she admired her wandwork.

The walls were now a soft silvery purple- a perfect color for future early mornings. Truly, it was a wonderful shade. Not bright enough to harshly reflect the light into a persons eyes in an annoying manner. Not dark enough to make it feel as if the room had been subjected to the lackluster interior decorating skills of Snape. The silver infused purple embodied the soft and subtle complexities that personified Hermione Granger.

Another flick of the young witch's wrist turned all of her bedding a deep purple with silver accents. Her white washed bedroom furniture became a dark ebony that contrasted her walls perfectly. With the major decorating disaster averted she quickly used the loo, brushed her teeth, and threw her uncontrollable curls up into a bun.

Now to unpack, Hermione thought as she spotted the rucksack she had tossed onto her desk ten hours previous. Opening it up, she began pulling out one object after another.

Her shrunken Ducati.

Files on the wanted Death Eaters.

Sadalbari and sheath.

A few daggers, ankle and thigh holsters included.

A set of dragon-hide gauntlets.

A dragon-hide belt with special compartments attached.

Weasley Twin inventions such as Instant Darkness Powder, Decoy Detonators, Shield Pills, Disguises for Dummies, Extendable Ears, and Portable Swamps.

A magically altered I-Pod, ear-buds, and docking station.

Six boxes of shrunken and organized texts on every subject imaginable.

Various cauldrons.

An ingredients kit.

Important potions.

Warding supplies.

A huge pile of both muggle clothes and robes.


Framed photos.

Several magical M.R.E.s - just add water and baddabing, a meal.

Her old Hogwarts trunk, no doubt filled with her retired school supplies.

A magical tent.

...The objects just kept coming until the bag was emptied for the first time in nearly ten years.

Hermione didn't doubt that if she'd had an audience, they would have been wondering how she managed to fit so much into such an average bag. But this rucksack was anything but ordinary. Hermione could fit all of her worldly possessions inside because she had cast both an undetectable extension charm and a feather weight charm on it when the war began. She could literally shove an entire house inside of it if she so desired.

Her bag was really quite handy.

The young witch looked around her room after she finished unloading her belongings. The spacious suite was in complete disarray and in need of order. She quickly dug out her I-Pod and docking station- hooking it up on her desk. A quick scroll through her preset play-lists had The Who blaring through the speakers.

The opening guitar for American Woman caused Hermione to start humming along with a wistful smile. This was her father's favorite song. She had caught him dancing around singing to it to her American born mother both at home and at his dental practice on more than one occasion. So, thanks to her childhood, Hermione had grown to enjoy listening to the heavy guitar riffs that epitomize classic rock first thing in the morning. Even if she preferred something from her generation during the rest of the day.

Hermione spent the next half hour organizing everything into two piles -what to keep and what went back inside the rucksack. The clutter lessened greatly once she put the magical tent, potions supplies, M.R.E's, Weasley Twin inventions, and other miscellaneous items back into her special bag with her Ducati going on top.

Her wardrobe became the first keep items to be put away. Clothing items magically flew into the closet or dresser drawers making the room look much less cluttered.

The newly expanded bookshelves by her desk were filled when Hermione divided her book collection up by subject. Her slight obsessive compulsive tendencies took the organization a step further by ordering the subjects into several subcategories based on difficulty level. The Death Eater files, warding supplies, as well as a few spare rolls of parchment and some normal paper found a home in some of the desks many drawers. A fountain pen and several regular ball-point pens were added to the desktop. The last addition to that section of the room was a special world map which showed all magical countries and settlements in conjunction to their muggle counterparts. It took up the wall behind her desk and was covered with brightly colored dots which pinpointed confirmed Death Eater sightings.

The photographs (mostly copies of those taken by Collin Creevey over the past decade) were next. Many of the framed photos of her, Harry, and Ron as well as various other Order members found their way onto her walls, perfectly blending in with those of Ororo, Scott, Hank, and her Grandfather. In the place of honor on the nightstand next to her bed stood two framed photos that meant the most to Hermione. The non-magical photo was of a small, three person family- her family- standing in front of the Eiffel Tower with cheesy smiles plastered on their faces. The magically animated one repeats the same scene over and over. It starts with Hermione receiving overly dramatic kisses on her cheeks by both Harry and Sirius while she played the grand piano in the drawing room at Number 12. The camera mans angle perfectly captures the devilishly handsome escaped convict reaching up to squeeze her left breast with a roguish grin. His groping makes Hermione shove him away with an exasperated roll of her eyes. Unfortunately, the push causes Sirius to topple off the bench onto the floor- leading photo Hermione and Harry to laugh uproariously at his misfortune.

After another quarter hour had passed with her putting things away, the only objects left were various battle gear and weapons. Her gauntlets were placed in the closet on the shelf next to her dragon-hide battle robes, various holsters, belt, and boots. She proudly displayed Sadalbari's gleaming blade and intricately detailed scabbard on the wall next to her closet door. One of the pure silver daggers went under her pillow sans sheath whilst two others were Spellotaped underneath her desk and the sink cabinet next to the shower respectively.

Mad-Eye would be so proud to know that I've become so paranoid Hermione decided as she walked out of the loo. After all, even he would agree that having three hidden daggers, one underneath her pillow no less, was a bit overkill on the paranoia scale. But Hermione had learned long ago that it was better to be overly prepared for an attack than to be caught unaware.

It'll do, she decided as she admired her handiwork.

A glance at the glowing face of her I-Pod showed that it was nearly six in the morning. She had lost an hour of her morning workout routine to her redecorating, but it was necessary. She ventured back into her closet and changed into a pair of shorts, her sports bra, and a pair of trainers. Ear buds found their way into her ears and her I-Pod was set to play all Muse albums before it got clipped onto the waistband of her shorts. Hermione gracefully dropped to the floor and commenced to do her daily reps of push-ups then sit-ups. Once finished, she glanced about the room to be sure she didn't require anything else before Apparating away to the front gate of her grandfathers property.

Hermione went through a few warm-up stretches to loosen her leg muscles, then began jogging along the fence lining the outermost property edges. For the first lap, she stopped every so often to inspect the stone pillars of the fence. She needed the three most sturdy ones that came to a perfect triangulation to adhere rune stones to. Once properly set-up the charge stones would power all of the wards she intended to set over the property.

After marking the third and final spot with a purple dot, the young witch's mind began to wander to other things as it is wont to do on her morning runs. As per usual, the overly analytic young woman's thoughts couldn't help but turn back to the European Blood Wars. They affected her so deeply and altered her life so completely that every morning she attempts to pinpoint just how they began.

She wonders whom to blame for the hell she and her friends endured.

It would be so easy for her to blame Tom Riddle himself. Merlin, how she wants to implicate him more than anyone else. The man was a verifiable monster and not just in appearance. No, that...that...thing.. was the worst sort imaginable. Evil personified. He held no appreciation for human life... or life in general.

But could she really lay all the blame at his feet? In her opinion everything concerning him boiled down to a classic case of nature versus nurture.

Sure, Riddle had the blood of Salazar Slytherin running through his veins. Everyone knows it to be fact. But the dark reputation of the Slytherin family failed to show anyone else in the history of the bloodline to be as vile and bloodthirsty as Riddle became. Some were actually very productive members of society. Therefore it stands to reason that his ancestry meant little in regards to his abhorrent personality. Genes, even ones as deeply seeded in the dark arts as his, did not make the man.

That blame must lie solely on his upbringing.

Perhaps the accountability lies with the orphanage then.

From what she and Harry learned about his childhood over the years, the caretakers at the orphanage quickly segregated him from the other children. They denied him affection and any sort of childhood camaraderie because he was so obviously different. He was labeled a freak and monster with little care to his feelings. The caretakers said he had the devil inside him and actually called in a priest to perform an exorcism. When that did nothing more than traumatize young Tom Riddle, the head of the orphanage allowed verbal and physical abuse to the point where the young boy had to magically incite fear into others to ensure his safety.

Following that train of thought, it could easily be implied that Albus Dumbeldore held the responsibility for creating such a monster. He visited that orphanage to inform Tom he was a wizard. He knew the living conditions the young boy had to endure and did nothing to take an obviously abused magical child out of an unhealthy environment. Albus turned a blind eye whilst the darkest wizard to ever exist was being molded into the hateful, cold, and merciless man he would become. His refusal to believe people were capable of treating children so cruelly directly impacted all of our futures.

If she were really being honest with herself, though, Hermione knew that those were the obvious scapegoats. And she could let them take the fall to an extent, but the blame rested solely within Europe's magical society.

Magical society was still as outdated now as it had been during Grindelwald's extermination campaign. Pure-bloods and half-bloods alike refused to move with the times outside of their own world. They refused to adapt and instead believed the rest of the world should adapt to them. On top of that, the society held too many antiquated beliefs to put to name. However, most of them did foster prejudices. For instance, certain forms of magic were looked down upon and labeled dangerous because those whom were incapable of practicing them didn't understand how they worked. Creatures were treated like lesser beings just because they were different. And muggleborns were at the bottom of the rung. They received the scorn and blame for everything from dying blood-lines to the abolishing of age old rituals. They were treated as if they didn't belong... as if they weren't wanted.

After hundreds of dark lords, they had yet to learn that magical society as a whole was weaker when it stood divided. And just like nearly every dark lord before him, Tom Riddle used that against them. He manipulated everyone, pitting the different factions of society against one another to suit his own needs and beliefs. And each and everyone of us played right into his hands without ever realizing what we were doing. So maybe the blame rested on us all. For no matter how hard we fought, we still allowed ourselves to be manipulated via our social status and prejudices.

As she began to walk back towards the manor so that her muscles had time to cool down, Hermione reached up to rub her temples. Her opinions regarding the war were a circle jerk of epic proportions. Every morning she put two and two together only to come up with zero. It was unbelievably frustrating.

She shook her head and began walking once more when she noticed that a tawny owl sat perched on a chair of the back patio. She approached it and took the morning papers she had daily subscriptions to from its talons then sent it off. Hermione banished them to the desk in her room to look over later before entering the manor through the patio doors.

She made her way to the large, state of the art kitchen and fixed herself a morning cuppa. As she carried her freshly brewed breakfast tea from the kitchen to the dining hall, a grimace momentarily twisted her lips. The voices of all the early morning risers were actually loud enough to drown out the music from her I-Pod. Hermione turned the volume off then pulled the ear buds from her ears in response.

She sighed.

It was times like these that the young witch remembered that not only had it been ten years since she'd been in a school environment, but she was no longer living at Potter Manor either. There, she and Harry both valued peaceful mornings. Ultimately that was something that had carried over from the war when those mornings at a safe house were likely to be the only peaceful time they would experience in between several days of fighting. Even though they both recognized that fact, neither did anything to disrupt the peace. They worked out then had a quiet breakfast. They savored those mornings like many would savor a fine wine.

Come on, Hermione. Get over it. You knew things, especially routines, were going to be different here. She sucked it up in response to her thoughts and entered the dining hall.

Just like the night before, she could feel the eyes following her as she approached the professor's table at the head of the hall. Only this time... it was a bit different. It immediately became unnaturally silent with her entrance. Even if people had been talking, they trailed off mid-sentence and became quiet. It was freaky enough to give her a complex. Especially when all of the other professors, plus her grandfather, all turned to stare as well.

Her spine stiffened in response and her hand twitched, but she refused to allow her body to react any further to their uncomfortable stares.

"What? Do I smell?" Hermione asked as she reached the full Professor's table.

The visibly annoyed witch didn't wait for an answer. She switched her cuppa to her left hand. She then summoned her wand from it's invisible holster on her forearm into her right palm and cleaned the grimy sweat off herself. After casting a freshening charm, she sheathed her wand.

Hanks mouth opened and closed a few times- the furry blue giant was obviously rendered speechless by something or other.

Her grandfather visibly gulped a few times."No, dearest, you did not smell. I believe we were all just shocked at the sight of your body."

"My body..." The young witch set down her cuppa then glanced down to see what had startled them so. Her full lips formed a classic 'o' in realization.

No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't subconsciously remember that she wasn't back at Potter Manor with Harry where she didn't have to worry about the reactions of others. Must be one of those years of ingrained habit things I thought about on the plane Hermione supposed.

Hermione reached up to rub the back of her neck with a wry tilt of her lips as the gravity of the situation made itself known.

Today was her first full day here. None of the mutants had seen her without jeans and a long sleeve shirt. Of course they would be stunned speechless. They obviously weren't prepared to see such a grotesque sight as her scars. And well, her workout gear meant a good majority of her scarring happened to be visible to the naked eye.

She looked like a real life Frankenstein reject to anyone who hadn't fought in the war. But she knew the story behind each and every one.

Most of the scars were from the many dark cutting curses and slicing hexes she had received in battle over the years. A few were from blades. A real nasty looking thick, purple tinted scar ran from just under her left breast to her right hip- a souvenir from a darker version of the Flagrante curse she was unable to counter.

But a good majority of the scars currently visible took Hermione several years to realize that she should never be ashamed of possessing. They were proof that she survived when so many others did not.

On her left collarbone sat a decent sized brand she would live with the rest of her life. The magically given tattoo told of her status as a prisoner of war. It resembled a barcode with MB1259471 stamped underneath it.

But that brand wasn't the worst of the evidence she still carried from that week of pure hell.

Hermione's torturers had left an immeasurable number of thin red scars crisscrossing her back, thighs, and calves with cursed knives and whips. She even had a rather lengthy one that ran from just beneath her right ear and down her shoulder from where Dolohov had drug his knife. However, the scarring happened to be much worse on her forearms in her opinion. Hateful phrases had been carved over and over into the soft flesh of each arm by Bellatrix as a reminder of her true status in the magical realm. Her right sported crude insults such as "Mudblood Whore" while her left branded her a "Filthy Abomination."

She met all of their... pitying stares of her grandfather and surrogate family without an ounce of shame or sadness. She had long ago left those emotions behind in regards to her body.

She squared her shoulders and decided to dispel any sort of pity they felt for her. She was stronger than pity. She didn't want such a useless emotion directed at her and she didn't need it to be. Warriors don't need pity for their battle scars. They just need quiet acceptance. If they couldn't show that then she didn't need them.

Her honey streaked eyes seemed to give each of those offering her pity an ultimatum as she stared them down.

"Well, I am an Auror." Hermione stated to back up her ultimatum with an explanation. She tapped the standard issue Ministry of Magic Auror Identification Tags (which greatly resembled muggle military dog tags) hanging from a pure silver chain on her neck as proof of her statement. "Only Auror's I've ever met without their fair share of scars from dark magic are rookies. Its too dangerous a profession not to rack up a good number."

"What's an Auror?"


Hermione lifted a brow at the two totally different tones in those questions. One was asked in a reasonable manner by Jean and the other... well it was growled out by the feral she had dubbed McSnarles.

Just because she found the ferals growling problem slightly annoying, if not down right rude, she took her sweet time in answering. She sat in the same spot as the evening before, shot a wandless warming charm at her tepid tea, and then sipped it before even beginning to respond.

"The Auror Corp is a special division within the Ministry of Magic whose members are notorious for using their natural affinity at battle magic to fight dark witches and wizards. As for how dangerous it is to fight them... Well, to put it bluntly, it's one of the most dangerous magical professions. Most new recruits are lucky to make the five year mark. During times of war, the Auror Corp gets sent to the frontlines so the survival rate drops from years to mere weeks."

Hermione leaned across the table and spread a bit of marmalade across a slice of toast while those around her processed her words.

She conveniently ignored the growling beside her as she munched on her breakfast. The man was obviously a little barmy... or maybe...as a feral he felt some weird urge to be protective of her because of his loyalty to her grandfather. She hoped that was the case, because if he was growling at her personally... they were going to have some problems. Besides, if he was going for intimidation...the feral really needed to practice in the mirror a bit more. She'd heard far scarier in her day.

"Wow..." Scott muttered, breaking her out of her musings.

He was slack jawed. Scott obviously never expected the little bookworm he would have to protect or comfort when she cried to have that sort of career. A librarian? Maybe. But an Auror? Definitely not.

The young witch fondly fingered her dog tags while she smirked at her childhood friend.

"Can I see those?"

Hermione raised a brow at Ororo as if she was wondering why she bothered to ask when they were visibly resting against her chest.

"I meant up close."

The young witch rolled her eyes. She easily lifted the chain over her head and handed them off to the weather goddess at her side. Hermione watched with barely hidden curiosity as Ororo lifted them closer to examine.

"Aha!" She exclaimed. "I thought these looked like flags on the bottom. What do they stand for?"

"They're a... road map of sorts. All of those flags belong to countries I've fought in as an Auror."

"But... there are flags for nearly every major European country on here..."

"Obviously..." She drawled sarcastically in a near perfect imitation of her dreaded potions professor.

Alas! The one time I do it perfectly... right down to the slow eye-roll and there isn't anyone around to appreciate such a feat She grumbled to herself.

"You must have quite the souvenir collection back in your room."

Hermione's eyes whipped from Ororo to Jean in a millisecond. The young witch stared at the mutant she hardly knew as if she were a bit dense for totally missing when Hermione stated she had fought in those countries.

"Actually, I do have quite the souvenir collection," Hermione agreed in a rather chipper, if a bit bitchy, tone. Then she pointed at a thick scar that nearly wrapped around her right shoulder. "Got this souvenir in Italy when I got distracted by the army of vicious, animated, decomposing corpses coming to rip me apart. An unknown severing curse caught me in the shoulder. It was right gruesome. The healers were pretty sure I was gonna lose my arm to the dark magic there for awhile."

The young woman smirked when Jean paled as she realized her faux pas. Her thin face froze in horror while the forks of the others fell to their breakfast plates with an audible clatter. The man beside her growled a bit louder. She turned and gave him a raised brow.

"I was in those countries to fight. Not to have tea and crumpets while I 'OOH'd and AHH'd' over the local tourist traps. So, the only 'souvenirs' I posses are the scars on my body. Doubt you want to know the stories behind all those."

Hermione finished her little rant by standing. "Now, If you all will excuse me I've about tolerated all of the staring I can without having a good, stiff drink or hexing someone. I think I'll go shower and start working on the ward configuration I wish to cast over the school."

With the expected British pleasantries out of the way, she pushed in her chair and strode from the dining hall towards her quarters. Just as she exited the main doors she felt another presence running to catch up. Hermione turned to find McSnarls not five steps behind her with her dog tags dangling from his calloused fingertips.

"Look... I'm sorry about the growling. I don't like seein' evidence of women bein' hurt. Anyway...You forgot these, Sugar," he drawled.

An eye-brow lifted as she noted the hesitant smile stretching his chiseled features. She gave him a small nod of thanks and understanding as she took them from him and slipped them back around her neck. Without another word she continued towards her quarters. To her surprise he fell into step with her. He ended up following her all the way to the door to her suite.

"Can I help you with anything, Logan?"

She glanced over to see him rolling those pretty grey-green eyes at her formal question. He pulled a half smoked cigar from the front pocket of his flannel, casually leaned against her door-frame, and began chewing it.

"Just wanna get to know ya a bit. I ain't gonna lie, I'm damn curious bout those scars of yours and why you'd pick such a dangerous profession. But I really came to ask about those colored bars on the back of your dog tags. Mine are different, but they ain't like that," As he finished speaking, he pulled his own battered dog tags from beneath his shirt to show her that they were entirely blank except for a serial number with 'WOLVERINE' written above it.

Hermione entered her room, beckoning the feral to follow. He prowled inside behind her, obviously curious to check out his new surroundings. She indulged him for a moment, watching as he slowly strode around the room sniffing as if he were checking for threats of some sort. It was an oddly comforting sight and she had no clue why.

She ended up having to loudly clear her throat a few times to get his attention.

"You wanted to know about the dog-tags... remember?"

"Right," he agreed, moving to lean against the wall beside the desk chair she had sat in.

Her bare knee brushed against his denim clad thigh as she swiveled to face him better. Hermione became acutely aware of just how warm that muscled thigh pressed against her was. It felt strong... as if she should just reach out to give it a nice squeeze to test it out. Then she could just trail her fingers up the short distance to see if those abs were as defined and rock hard as they look...

She forcefully shook those naughty and unexpected thoughts from her head. The young witch nonchalantly adjusted her chair just a bit so that they were no longer touching to ensure that she could think with something other than her hormones for a few moments.

From the devilish smirk twisting the feral's lips, she hadn't been as nonchalant as she thought.

She rolled her eyes and ploughed on despite her growing embarrassment.

"As Aurors, we always have to be at the top of our game so we go through a monthly evaluation. In the first half we are put in a room that magically simulates a battle situation then are graded on our performance. For the second part, we go from the simulated battle straight to the practice range. We throw spells at targets which basically score us on our accuracy, speed, and power. All of that culminates together to give our superiors an estimation of our skills."

Hermione checked to see that he was following. Amazingly, the ruggedly handsome man had gone from teasing to looking extremely interested by her explanation.

With a small smile, she lifted up the dog tags resting against the swells of her breasts then flipped them over so that the six bars of colors were visible.

"Now, when we start out as Auror's, the back of our tags are blank. No bars. You earn them when you learn more spells, pick up more technique, and learn to harness your power and speed." Hermione began tapping the colors in succession. "You earn Red bars for your offensive spells. Blue come when you have a decent barrage of defensive spells. You earn Green bars when you've mastered spell chaining and weaving. Yellow are for the rare few who pick-up healing spells. Purple bars come when you've either picked up a rare ability or managed to be decent at stealth and tracking. And Black bars are for mastery of the Unforgivables."

The feral seemed to be following just fine, but she had to ask anyways. "Questions?"

"A few, Sugar. What's the ranking system? On the Black you got five small bars, but on others -like the Green and Red- you got one long bar."

Hermione shrugged, "Seven bars declares you a master. On the seventh bar all the small bars turn into the one long bar like on my Green and Red. Anything else?"

He rubbed a hand down the scruff of his jaw in what was probably an age-old habit. "I understood most of the color designation. Pretty self explanatory. Except for that last bit. Ain't never heard of the Unforgivables."

Honey brown eyes met grey-green as she nodded in understanding. "You wouldn't have. There are three Unforgivable Curses and use of them without Ministry sanction earns a life-sentence in prison. As an Auror we have sanction to cast them if we possess the raw power and emotions they require.

"The mildest of the three is called the Imperious. This one is cast on Auror's repeatedly until we learn to throw it. After all, the Ministry can't have its military running around with someone having total control of their minds and bodies. Its really a very nasty curse and nigh on impossible to break once you've been hit with it because you simply exist in this thick, white fog with no wants, needs, or desires. But if you can successfully throw it within a minute as well as cast it, then you earn your first two black bars.

"The next one...well... there is quite a bit of debate about whether it's the worst of the three or not. It's called the Cruciatus, or the torture curse. It tortures the victim mentally and physically...the level of pain depends on the power of the caster. The stronger the witch or wizard, the worse the pain. Truly...even a mild hit is filled with more pain than you would never be capable of imagining." A tremor shook Hermione's body as unwanted echoes of the intense pain Voldemort caused tried to surface. She gritted her teeth and continued. "Anyway, to earn the next black bar an Auror has to be able to be hit with a mild Cruciatus and continue fighting with little change to their speed or accuracy. Another bar is added if they can undergo a mock interrogation session with fairly heavy Cruciatus exposure without cracking. You get the final bar upon successful casting."

"That... sounds quite brutal. And that's sayin' somethin' comin' from me."

"It's better they prepare the Auror's for the very real pain they will experience upon being captured by dark witches and wizards then to delude them into believing they will receive quick deaths."


Hermione merely raised an eyebrow at the calm retort. "Anyway, the final Unforgivable is the killing curse. It is perhaps the most well known of the three. It simply kills on contact by ripping the soul from the body. It doesn't matter where it hits you, if that green light touches your body... you. are. dead. It's vital for Auror's to recognize and avoid the curse. Being able to do so earns a bar. And, as usual, another bar - the final one- is given when it is successfully cast."

"Damn. So you only got five black bars?"

Hermione avoided meeting his eyes and instead looked over his shoulder at the wall. For some reason she felt as if she needed to explain herself to him. It was most uncanny.

But she went with her instincts.

"I can throw and cast the Imperious. I can handle the pain of the Cruciatus better than anyone I've met, bar Harry. But I can't cast the last two. Heck I can't even bring myself to try the Cruciatus after having experienced it. I'd never willingly inflict that sort of pain on anyone. Not even my worst enemies. As for the killing curse, to successfully cast it you have to be filled with malice. You have to desire that persons death more than anything. I've seen the monsters the power rush of that curse creates. I won't be one of them."

Logan nodded soberly, as if he understood her desire to not be a monster. Perhaps he did since he had a feral that was always prowling beneath the surface. After a few minutes of a more or less companionable silence he smirked..."So, you ever gonna take that shower? You're startin' ta stink up the place..."

A playful glare got thrown his way as Hermione stood and pointed to the door. "Tosser. See if I ever take time out of my busy schedule to answer your questions ever again. If the supposed smell offends your delicate sensibilities so bad, leave. I'm sure you have plenty of work to do. Away from my rooms."

The feral backed away with a triumphant grin. "I'll see you later, Sugar." He called over his shoulder as he exited the door.

Hermione's retort died on her lips as she caught sight of the way his jeans perfectly hugged his tight arse as he walked out of the room. An arse that fine should be illegal. Unfortunately, like all good things, it came to an end. All too soon he was out of sight and she was left staring at a blank wall.

She sighed as she came back to herself. To be honest, she was a bit stunned by the conversation she had just participated in. Not only had she felt comfortable talking to Logan about her world and her life after having just met him... But there was obviously a bit more to McSnarls than just growling and looking dangerous. He could be serious and understanding...even a bit playful if the last few minutes were anything to go by. And sweet Merlin was the man drop dead gorgeous in a very dangerously sexy way. That coupled with her reactions to him as well as his layered personality...well Hermione would be lying to herself if she didn't admit that Logan definitely intrigued her.

With that last thought weighing heavy on her mind, Hermione made her way to the loo for the aforementioned shower. She needed a clear head if she intended to begin carving the charge stones for the wards today.

Thanks to everyone who reviewed, alerted, and added this story to their favorites!