Author's Note: I got the idea to write this story after having difficulty finding a Dark Harry/Hermione story that stayed somewhat true to the books. So with that in mind all the characters will be as close to canon as possible. I'm also tired of all the bashing, especially against Dumbledore and the Weasleys. So any bashing that I may have in this story is what I consider to the truth based on canon, for example Ron being a jealous idiot. I'm going to have several polls throughout the story for what you think should happen since it is, after all, for the readers. And a word of warning: the rating will go up.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, yada yada yada. Let's get to the good stuff.
Born for This
Harry Potter sat by the Hogwarts Lake, enjoying one of his sunny afternoons off. Now that he didn't have Quidditch practice any longer he seemed to be having more of these free afternoons. Beside him lay a girl with long bushy hair: his best friend, Hermione Granger. While he was happy that she was with him, he would've preferred the company of a certain Ginny Weasley; however she had to spend as much time as she possibly could studying for her rapidly approaching O.W.L.s.
Ever since he and Ginny had gotten together life seemed to be much better for him. Though his future still looked bleak he was able to stop thinking about it and finally be a teenager, able to act his own age instead of someone sixteen years older. Even his obsession with proving that Draco Malfoy was a Death Eater and the sniping comments sent his way by Severus Snape didn't affect him as much. It seemed the only thing that could ruin this for him was the fact that he had very limited time with his amazing girlfriend. He did have Hermione though and that helped. And at least she and Ron were talking again.
Throughout the year, with Ron acting like a complete jackass, Harry and Hermione had grown much closer. No longer did Harry think of Ron as his best friend, the one that he would always side with. Despite the fact that Ron was his first friend, Harry now thought of Hermione as his best friend, the one that he would always side with and stick up for, even against Ron, his other best friend. And over the year he had decided that there was no way he could keep blindly defending Ron, especially not after what he had done to Hermione.
Hermione knew about this change of course. Though Harry never actually told her, no words had to be spoken between the two of them for her to realize it. Truth be told she was fed up with the way Ron had acted towards her all year too. After further examination, Hermione realized that the feelings she thought she held for Ronald Weasley were merely jealousy: jealousy over the fact that Ron, Ron of all people, was in a relationship and that they seemed to be on the path to something themselves at one point in time. Looking back on it though she was glad things worked out as they had. She and Ron didn't have a lot in common, other than the constant bickering, and any relationship they had would've been in was doomed from the start, lack of common interests aside.
Still the fact that Ron had been in a relationship for most of the year bothered her. Out of the three of them he had been the one to have an actual childhood. He had been allowed to grow up at his own pace, which was probably one of the biggest reasons why he was still so immature. She reasoned that if anyone deserved to have exactly what they wanted then it should be Harry and, though she would never openly admit it, herself. Both of them had been through so much, much more than anyone their age should ever have to go through, and yet, through the whole thing, neither of them had put their own selfish desires above anyone else's.
If Hermione was completely honest with herself, and Harry, she would admit to having a crush on him since Slughorn's Christmas party. Well actually she had probably had those feelings before then but that was when she finally accepted them. She wanted more than anything to be with Harry, or to at least tell him how she felt, but he was happy with Ginny and she was happy for him; she didn't want anything to ruin his happiness. Besides what would he see in her, especially against Ginny? She was just a bossy, unattractive bookworm while Ginny was an outgoing, beautiful young woman. Hermione couldn't take that away from Harry, no matter what she may want.
The two of them stayed silent for a long while, just enjoying each other's company and each lost in their own thoughts, before the silence was finally broken. A group of scantily clad seventh years came out to the Lake, wearing the tiniest bikinis either of the two had ever seen, before jumping in. Hermione watched them scandalized while Harry looked past them, apparently still lost in thought. Finally he spoke to the girl lying beside him.
"'Mione," she inwardly smiled at his use of that name, "what the hell are we going to do about the Horcruxes? I know that Dumbledore's doing his best to find them but what if it's not enough? What if we have to help him? Or worse yet, what if Dumbledore dies before he finds them all and we have to finish it? We have a lot working against us here, other than Voldemort himself. And for that matter what about Ron and Ginny?" Hermione gave an exasperated sigh and rolled over on her side to look at him.
"For starters Harry there's not much we really can do about the Horcruxes. We have a pretty good idea of what they are and that's the only thing we can go by right now. As for Ron, you know that wherever you go he'll follow. And Ginny will probably want to come too." Harry's response to that was quick in coming.
"No. There is absolutely no way that I'm letting her come with me. It's already bad enough that I've got you and Ron involved in this. I can't let her follow me into that kind of danger."
Hermione gave him a hard look before asking, "And what if we were together? How would that play out? Would you turn me away too?" Harry was taken aback after she asked that. He didn't think of her like that. At least he didn't think he did. It only took him a minute to regain his composure though.
"Of course not. You've been with me since our first year here. I know your abilities and I don't have to worry about you in a fight. Besides you're the smartest witch of your age. I'd be stupid to have you sit out. The only thing I know about Ginny's abilities is what I saw last year at the Ministry and I don't think that I'd be lost without her with us. I honestly don't know if she'd be able to defend herself against what we'd be fighting; I know that you're more than capable of that. This is all hypothetical though right, you and me together I mean?" Hermione blushed furiously and turned her head away from him.
"Y-yes, of course," she told the ground. "We're, we're just friends." It almost killed her to say that and she needed a reprieve from talking to him. She rolled back onto her back and was asleep before long. Dreams of Harry doing things that were very inappropriate for a friend to do marred her sleep. It seemed that all too soon the object of her fantasies was waking her up so the two of them could go eat dinner.
They saw the two Weasleys already at the table so they went to join them. As soon as Harry sat down Ginny immediately began trying to shove her tongue down his throat. Hermione, seeing the murderous look on Ron's face, did her best to distract him.
"Looking forward to Quidditch next year Ron?" A quick grunt was her only reply, Ron's eyes never leaving the sight of his sister trying to suck out his best friend's esophagus. "Oh honestly Ronald they're only snogging! You act like they're shagging each other right here on the table in front of everyone." Hermione had a slight blush in her face after saying that but it had to be said.
"It's not them snogging that I mind, I just wish they wouldn't be so blatant about here in the Great Hall. People are trying to eat! And I don't like my little sister trying to suck out the tonsils of anyone, let alone my best friend." It was at that moment that Harry and Ginny broke for air.
"You'd best be careful, my dear brother. I'll snog whoever I want, wherever I want. And I'm at perfect liberty to do so. And besides you know that Harry's too noble to do anything else, at least not right now."
"And Ron, just remember that she is quite accomplished with the Bat-Bogey Hex. I was recently on the receiving end of that myself and I will say that it's not a pleasant experience." Ron glowered at both of them but he said no more after that and made his looks much more subtle. Soon Ginny had to leave them to go back and study for her O.W.L.s for the rest of the night. Harry watched her go, the heaviness of his thoughts beginning to weigh him down again.
"You alright mate?"
"Yeah I'm ok Ron. Thanks. It's just that whenever I'm not with her I can't help but think about what's going to happen, what we're going to do to about all this, and what's going to happen if we fail. When she's here I can forget about all that, if only for a little while. I know she's your sister and all and that you hate seeing us do that stuff but I honestly can't help it mate."
Ron nodded and sat back, for once not eating as he thought about what Harry just said. He knew exactly what he was talking about: he himself had had that respite from worry when he was with Lavender, though even he admitted that the reasons they were together were all wrong. Now that he wasn't though it seemed that all he could think about was his future and how he played into whatever it was that Harry had planned. It was true that he could walk away from it all and Harry would think no less of him, he'd probably even be happy about not having to worry about him, but he knew that he hadn't been the best of friends in the past few years and this was his way of making it up.
Overall though the thought of what they were probably going to have to do, that is eventually take on Vol-, Vol-, Volde-, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, themselves was a frightening task. Ron knew that even Harry was terrified, which was saying a lot considering all that he had done over the years. If Harry was that afraid then Ron felt that he had a right to just as scared, if not even more so. The more he thought about everything the more he wanted out. He couldn't let Harry and Hermione know that though or he'd never hear the end of it. Besides he wanted You-Know-Who dead as much as anyone else did.
It came as no surprise to any of them that Ron was the last one to finish eating, despite being the first one there. When he finally finished the three of them headed back up to Gryffindor tower. Despite the end of the year fast approaching they were trying to learn as many new spells as they possibly could. Well admittedly Ron wasn't doing much studying but he was at least trying harder than he usually would at something like this. After an hour of searching through their books Hermione slammed hers on the table in frustration.
"We've read all these at least three times; there's nothing useful in here anymore! We've gone over the books from the library several times too. We still need more of an advantage." Harry looked at her in sympathy.
"I agree but what can we do? The only other books we haven't looked at are in the Restricted Section and I don't know how we're supposed to get in there. I don't think that there's any teacher who will give us a pass, even if we're using them for a good purpose." Hermione thought for a moment before an idea seemed to come to her.
"What about Slughorn? You're his golden boy Harry; he'll give you just about anything you ask him for. We can use that to our advantage here." Harry stared at her. He wasn't shocked that she had suggested that he go to Slughorn, but he was rather surprised that she admitted his status in their potions class.
"Yeah you're right, 'Mione. I'll talk to him tomorrow."
That Saturday saw Ron and Hermione in the common room after lunch waiting for Harry's return. They had offered to go with him to see Slughorn but he refused, telling them that all of them going might seem suspicious and that he had a much better chance alone. That had been over an hour ago and they were both worried. It should have been a quick and simple task: get permission for the Restricted Section, get back to the common room. Apparently it wasn't that simple.
The two of them knew that it wasn't because Harry couldn't find Slughorn; the map had shown that he was in his office when Harry left. They could only hope that the old man had found some reason to keep their friend down there for a while. Just when they were going to go look for him the portrait opened and Harry walked through. His hair was even messier than usual, if that was even possible, and he looked out of breath. Still he had a large smile on his face, too big for someone who had just gotten permission to go to the Restricted Section. As usual it was Hermione who put together the pieces first.
"You ran into Ginny, didn't you?" Harry nodded, the smile never leaving his face. "And did anything happen that we should, or probably shouldn't, know about?" Harry's smile suddenly faded as his mouth flew open and his face turned red. He couldn't believe what he'd just heard and apparently Hermione couldn't believe she had just said it: her face was even redder than Harry's. It seemed that Ron hadn't quite gotten the implication, though he was paying more attention to Hermione's red face than what she was saying.
"No 'Mione nothing like that happened, though it wasn't for lack of her trying," Harry told her when he finally found his voice. "It seems like she tries that every time we see each other now. It's actually getting kind of annoying."
"Hold on, did you try to get it on with my sister?" Ron had finally caught on, despite not paying attention to most of the conversation.
"It was more like she tried to get it on with me, mate. I guess she thinks that the sooner we do that the sooner we'll get married or something. Trust me, Ron: I have no intentions of doing that any time soon." Ron seemed satisfied with his friend's answer, at least for the moment, though he still looked very unhappy about the whole situation. Hermione decided that it was time for them to get back on track.
"Well, never mind that right now, did you get it? Can we visit the Restricted Section now whenever we want?" There was a gleam in her eyes that both Harry and Ron knew very well and they knew that once she got her hands on that pass it'd be damn near impossible to keep her out of the library. Nevertheless, Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out a note, signed by Professor Horace Slughorn, for the Restricted Section.
"He said to just tell Madam Pince that this note is good as often as we need it and that if she doesn't believe us to go ask him herself. He knows that we won't use it for anything bad and he understands our situation, even if he's terrified to admit it. I think he's still ashamed about that memory and he's doing whatever he can to make up for it. He partially blames himself for Voldemort's rise to power."
Hermione stared at Harry in wide wonder. Whether it was from what Harry had just told her or the fact that he had in his hand a pass to the Restricted Section, no one knew for sure. What was sure was that there was no way she was going to let this opportunity go to waste.
"So does this mean that we can study during the summer too?"
"NO!" both Harry and Ron yelled at the exact same time. As serious as they both were about defeating Voldemort they were not up to studying during the precious little time they had off. Hermione looked at them in disbelief. Clearly the thought of not using this "golden ticket" was an idea that she couldn't imagine.
"Fine, then don't study. But when neither of you are prepared don't expect me to help you." The two boys smiled at the empty threat they had just been given and followed their friend out of the common room to the library.
Author's Note: I know that many of you are probably upset with the Harry/Ginny thing but remember: it is a Harry/Hermione story. I promise you that he and Ginny won't be together long.