This is a story that I've been thinking about writing for a while, ever since I read Reverse by Lady Moonglow, whose story has the same general concept as this one. I recommend that you read it, although there are only eight chapters and she hasn't updated in a few years... D:
I'm so glad that this chapter turned out to b so long, there was supposed to be more but I decided to cut the chapter in half. Let me know if you like it ;D
This chapter has been rewritten thanks to the very helpful input of Winterblume. To old readers, not much has changed – to new readers, this won't really affect you so you may read on...
Chapter 1: Vincere aut Mori
Vincere aut Mori, she thought. Conquer or die. It couldn't possibly be anymore related to the situation that she was now in. She'd come to a crossroad in her life, she could either die or win, it was truly that simple. She had never had a choice in the matter, she was a Muggle-born and would therefore have to fight if she didn't want to be wiped off the face of the Earth. It wasn't fair, but it wasn't really a surprise either, she had known that this was her fate years ago and had been studying avidly for this final moment, where Death was nearly upon her, waiting for the green curse to hit her that would invite Him in.
She clutched the Resurrection Stone tighter inside her pocket, feeling the shadowy magic inside the Stone pulse and whisper things into her ear, secrets of death, meanings of life, cries for salvation...
Hermione released the Stone as if it had burned her. She was now the owner of the Resurrection Stone, having been agreed by both Harry and Ron that she was the least likely to abuse its powers between the three of them. After all, she hadn't actually lost any of her family members in the war.
Harry had the temptation of seeing his parents and Sirius again, and Ron had lost Fred and was – agreed by both Harry and Ron – to be the least rational out of the three of them. Harry was still in possession of the Invisibility Cloak, and Voldemort was still the "master" of the Elder Wand. However, things were looking slightly better with two of the Deathly Hallows on their side and Harry's assurance that the Elder Wand's allegiance now belonged to him; but still Hermione wasn't optimistic about their chances of winning.
"Hermione, it's time," Harry started cautiously, bringing Hermione out of her reverie. She nodded slowly, but there was no mistaking the sudden glint of determination in her eyes.
"I know," she replied softly, looking up at her two best friends. They were crouched above the alcove leading to the Ministry of Magic's main chamber, which Voldemort had taken up as his permanent residence after the Battle of Hogwarts two weeks ago. Hermione had spent the two weeks planning this whole scenario, knowing that it was only a matter of time before Harry was better enough to go rush after Voldemort. She had studied the Ministry's blueprints studiously and was confident that her plan had catered for every possible problem short of a dragon crashing through the Ministry and eating them all – Voldemort included.
Yeah, because winning this war would only be that easy, Hermione thought wryly.
She clutched Ron's hand in her own and looked up at him, into his bright blue eyes which were looking down at her with tenderness. She remembered him during their first few years at Hogwarts, insensitive, emotionally immature, and a humour that was – albeit unintentionally – hurtful. He was so much more now, but still the same at the same time, he was a conundrum that sent her logical brain into a tailspin every time she tried to pinpoint what exactly made him seem different, yet also exactly the same as he was.
"Do you want to go over the plan again, Hermione?" Ron asked her, squeezing her hand reassuringly.
"No, Ron. Someone might overhear us, it's too important that no one knows what we are doing. And it's not really much of a plan anyway. Actually, it might not even work at all. How about we come back later, with the Order behind us we'll stand a much better chance."
"Come on, Hermione. You know that it's now or never, You-Know-Who won't be expecting an attack this soon after the battle at Hogwarts," Harry reasoned. "And he doesn't yet know that I am still alive, but he's bound to find out sooner or later if we keep putting this off. But Hermione – and you Ron too – can both leave now. I won't hold it against you, and it's-"
"Don't you dare, Harry James Potter!" Hermione hissed sharply. "We're all in this. Together. As a team. And as for a choice, Harry, you know just as well as I do that I have no choice in this matter. It's either that I take my stand alongside you two, or spend the rest of my life being hunted down for what I am. A Muggle-born."
Hermione heard Ron take a sharp breath inwards and he pulled her against his chest into a tight embrace. "I'll never let that happen to you, Hermione. They'll have to kill me before I'll let them get through to you."
His statement was followed by a sudden silence that lasted for only a few minutes before Ron took charge. "No more delaying," he muttered, and dropped down from the alcove. Hermione heard him give out a hiss of pain as he landed on the floor painfully, having obviously forgotten to cast a spell to stop his sudden descent. She shook her head in wry amusement, that's my Ronald. She thought, and warmth fluttered through her stomach as she gazed down at him fondly. He was rubbing his behind and scowling up at her and Harry's grinning faces.
"My turn," Harry said sliding over the edge of the alcove and hanging on with his hands so that he was dangling nearly five metres from the ground. She heard him pull out his wand and mutter an incantation before letting go of the alcove, with a soft whump she knew that he had landed on the floor. She looked down at her two best friends, surprised to see that Harry was sitting on a pair of cushions he had obviously conjured up before his descent. Harry and Ron grinned at each other, before looking up at Hermione expectantly.
Honestly, those two, Hermione thought exasperated, before she too shuffled over to the edge and drew out her wand. She had obtained another one to replace Bellatrix's during the two weeks that they had been recovering, it had been risky, stealing down to Ollivander's in Diagon Alley, even in the middle of the night. But she was glad to have a wand would easily comply with her magic, one that wasn't tainted with darkness as Bellatrix's had been. Her new wand was strong, fast and reliable, made from rowan, it was eleven and a half inches with a dragon heartstring core, something that Ollivander had personally stated would "most definitely serve you well".
Her hands gripped the edge of the alcove as she slid her body over it so she hung limply, in plain view of anyone that should be inside the Ministry's Entrance Chamber. However, no one was there, just as she had suspected. No doubt most of Voldemort's Death Eaters were hunting Muggle-borns elsewhere or trying to locate the rest of the Order. Something that would either stop today, or go on forever.
Vincere aut mori...
She shook her head in an effort to clear her thoughts and concentrated on drawing upon the well of power that was inside her. Her magic surged through her body, casting away the fatigue she felt after the lack of sleep she'd had the night before.
With a small smile to herself she let go of the edge and plummeted towards the hard floor. She had to time this just right, otherwise she'd be still too high off the ground for her spell to do much good, or hit the ground before her magic had taken effect. She looked down to the floor as she dropped, still in an upright position. Four metres left – three, two... Now.
Hermione flung her arms out and channelled her magic outside and then around her body so that it would stop her fall.
Her magic took effect almost immediately, her descent slowing until her shoes stopped just inches off the ground. Slowly manipulating her magic, she descended the next few inches until her feet safely alighted the floor. Hermione looked up into her two best friends stunned faces. "You really should have paid attention in Charms," she said smugly.
"That. Was. So. Cool!" Ron almost squealed like a delighted child and beamed at Hermione, earning him a stern "shush". Then he turned to Harry and pointed at Hermione. "That's my girlfriend!"
Harry chuckled as Hermione blushed at the blatant pride evident in Ron's voice.
"Whoever said that Muggle-borns aren't adept at magic had obviously never met a Muggle-born as good as you, Hermione," Harry said grinning at her. Though his remark sobered her up, reminding Hermione that they were there for a reason.
Yet another moment of silence fell upon the three Gryffindors while they all sobered and inwardly prepared themselves for what might very well be their final farewell.
"I guess this is it..." Ron said, clutching Hermione's hand and looking from her to Harry and back again.
Hermione couldn't bear it how all of them stood looking at each other awkwardly and pulled Harry and Ron into a three-way hug. After a small moment of hesitation she felt Harry and Ron both hug her back tightly. "We'll always be best friends," Hermione whispered to both of them. "Even if one of us dies today. Promise me that you won't regret your actions if one of us dies..."
She felt Harry hesitate while Ron nuzzled his face in the crook of her neck and whispered, "I'll promise you anything, Hermione."
She looked at Harry, his deep green eyes were surveying her and Hermione could instantly see the inner conflict her request had left him in. Hermione knew Harry, she knew that even if he promised and one of them died, he'd never forgive himself and would live the rest of his life regretting it but she still wanted him to promise – promise that he wouldn't give up and at least try get his life on track after the war – that is, if they won.
"Promise me, Harry."
Again, he hesitated. He really didn't want to give a promise to Hermione when he might very well break it; actually, if one of them died then he would break it. Harry didn't want anyone dying for him.
"Fine – I promise."
Hermione smiled and hugged them both closer. Her boys – her boyfriend and her best friend. She loved them both so much, and the thought of surviving without either of them was unbearable. And so, when Harry and Ron began to pull out of her embrace she knew that a little part of her was gone with them and she needed them both back alive if she ever wanted to be whole again.
"I need to go to the Muggle-born Registration Office..." Harry started, referring to his part of the plan, as he took a few steps away from Hermione and Ron. "Remember, when you're both done with your parts of the plan we meet downstairs in the Department of Mysteries. And Ron, this is especially important for you as your leading the breadcrumbs for You-Know-Who to follow, you need to remember to give me enough time to – well, to do what I have to do. Otherwise, I'll be ambushed when I go into the Department of Mysteries. But you need to be fast too, before all of his Death Eaters recover from your distraction and go to find You-Know-Who. And Hermione-"
"I know what I'm doing, Harry. I'm the one who came up with this ridiculously flawed plan, remember?"
Harry nodded. "Be careful," was all he said. Turning on his heel, he pulled the Invisibility Cloak out of his bag and drew it around himself as he hurried away. He disappeared before he'd even turned the corner, leaving Ron and Hermione alone to say their goodbyes.
After a quiet moment, Hermione felt Ron grasp her shoulders and turn her around to look at him. As she gazed up into his blue eyes and wished with all her being that they didn't have to do this, that they could just stay together and run away, leaving the war behind them. But that wasn't an option. It might've been at one point an option for Ron – one that he had obviously refused – but definitely not one for her.
Hermione hated this war.
"Ron," she started gently, but then trailed off not sure what to say. What could she say? Don't go? Run away with me? Go kick some arse? Hermione was stumped, how could she say goodbye to someone that she didn't want to leave her? Ron didn't say anything, he just gazed down at her with a tenderness that she had only seen once before – in the Chamber of Secrets – where they hadn't been sure that they would live to see another day.
"Ron-" Hermione tried again, but was immediately silenced when Ron leaned down and desperately slammed his mouth over hers. Hermione almost took a surprised step backwards, but stopped herself. She wanted to enjoy this feeling while it lasted, this feeling of utter contentment, of not needing anything else in the world except Ron to make her happy. It didn't matter that the kiss started as something clumsy and desperate because it evolved into something immeasurably better when Ron traced his tongue softly over her lips, requesting entry into her mouth with a tenderness that had her heart thrumming ecstatically. Hermione deepened their kiss, and their tongues danced together passionately in her mouth. She felt Ron clutch her to his body firmly, his arms folding securely around her promising safety, and she couldn't resist the urge to run her hands through his scarlet hair, ruffling it lovingly, feeling the velvetiness of its texture. Why can't my hair feel like that, she wondered abstractedly.
It was impossible to determine how long either of them stayed like that, breathing each other into themselves, memorising each others' faces with their hands gently. It was, however, too soon on both their parts when Hermione softly stepped back, effectively breaking their kiss. Both of their faces were flushed and they were panting heavily, both of them had barely breathed so that they wouldn't have to waste another moment with each other.
It took further minute before there breathing finally returned to normal and they just looked at each other: Hermione, with a sad smile; and Ron, with an expression of restraint – wanting only to pull her back into him and kiss her again and again.
Hermione nearly jumped in surprise when Ron fell to his knees before her, she whipped out her wand and scanned the room looking for the perpetrator that had made Ron fall. She hadn't heard anything and she hadn't seen a curse hit him, why had he fallen to his knees? She looked down at Ron to make sure that he was still okay, and found him gazing up with her with a resolute and stubborn expression on his face. He picked up her hands and caressed them fondly.
"Hermione..." He started huskily, then cleared his throat to start again. "Hermione, I know that we've known each other for years, and we've only been together for about two weeks, but I think that I've known for a while that without a doubt in my mind you are the witch for me." He smiled up at her tenuously. "And I love you. Heart, body and soul. All of them are yours now. And I think – no, I know – that after the war... I want to – to marry you... And live up in the hills in a place we can call our own but... I think that I – I need you to say that..." Ron frowned in exasperation when the right words didn't leave his mouth, and instead all that came was a babble of praise and dreams and hopes. Hermione grinned at his antics affectionately. Her Ronald...
"What I'm trying to say is-" Ron took a deep breath to steady himself. "We may have been together for two weeks but we've known each other for years and – Argh! Hermione, will you marry me?" He demanded finally, and Hermione felt the rest of the world fall away.
She could have been outraged that he'd asked her on the eve of the Final Battle, or she could have been sad that this war was what had forced him to have to propose to her in a vain attempt to keep their love – and lives – alive. She could have been happy too, it meant that their love wasn't just some sham that was caused by the heat of the moment or of convenience, it meant that he was willing to make their relationship turn into a future of happiness, of daughters named after flowers, and sons with short masculine names to appease Ron – both with fiery red hair inherited from their father.
What Hermione was feeling though was not something that could be so easily labelled by adjectives such as happy, joyful, reminiscent or sad. She felt like crying out of hopelessness, yet at the same time, weeping for delight. She felt like stomping her foot in frustration, but then hugging Ron in relief. She felt like screaming, and laughing, and then maybe a little more stomping for good measure.
"Hermione?" Ron stared at her as she remained silent; already he was starting to feel like he had done something stupid and rash. Had he moved too fast? Did Hermione not care about him as much as he had thought? Did she care about him at all? Was this relationship just one of convenience for her? More and more questions swirled maliciously around in his head, increasing his doubt and feeding his fears.
"Hermione?" He asked weakly. "Hermione – say something. Please." His voice came out half strangled and tinged with the fear.
Hermione decided her answer, knowing full well that it was probably best to answer after the war, but she had to say it now. Because, she realised, it meant more when they were in the heat of battle. She wasn't sure why, but if she didn't answer now then she would never be able to approach this subject from this particular angle. And she had to admit that this moment of passion in particular was the one that she wanted to remember for the rest of her life as the time when Ron and Hermione pledged to spend the rest of lives together.
Til death would they part...
She shuddered at the unwelcome thought which she sensed had come from the Resurrection Stone in her pocket, she pushed it away to the recesses of her mind before she answered Ron in a whisper. "Yes..." Hermione whispered, removing her hand from Ron's to stroke his face. "Yes, I will. I love you, Ronald Bilius Weasley."
She watched Ron's face change from misery, to shock, then to a look of utter joy that his whole face lit up with it. He jumped to his feet in exuberance before crushing Hermione to himself, smothering her lips, cheeks and throat with kisses all the while muttering "I love you... Love you so much... Thank you, thank you, thank you... I'll never let you down... Love you...".
A laugh bubbled out of Hermione at his enthusiasm before hastily placing a hand over her mouth to stifle it. They were still in plain sight of anyone that might come strolling into the Entrance Chamber, but nonetheless she was grinning as she pushed Ron away. "We have to get moving, Ron. Harry will be almost there by now, you have to go." She tried to sound stern but instead it came out in a breathy whisper as she tried to restrain laughter as Ron made a lunge towards her throat again, though she effectively swatted him away.
"Fine," he sighed, taking a reluctant step back. "But we'll be continuing this celebration with the family later..." Ron almost made it sound like a threat, and Hermione blushed as she caught onto what he meant by "celebration". It entailed a three course home cooked meal made by Molly Weasley, with all their family and friends in attendance, and Fred and George singing "For He's A Jolly Good Fellow" drunkenly by the end of the night. Nope, she was definitely not looking forward to that...
And Fred was dead now too...
Ron bent down suddenly and gave her a quick peck on her lips. "For luck," he winked before hurrying away.
Hermione smiled absent-mindedly before turned towards the alcove. She had pulled the short straw on who would be setting up the wards so that no one – not even themselves– could leave the Ministry, at least, not until she or her wards fell. And Hermione was certain that her wards would not fall easily; she was also determined not to die easily either. Or at all, for that matter.
Quite ingeniously, Hermione had suggested that they prepare an interlocking series of amplification charms around the entire Ministry perimeter. They would not only significantly enhance the wards' strength, but would also help her ward completely encompass the entire building, meaning that every potential exit – evens ones that Harry, Ron and Hermione didn't know about – would be catered for with a considerably less strain on Hermione's magic then if she had simply cast a massive enchantment sealing all the exits. Hermione was powerful by most wizarding standards, but she was certainly not powerful enough to uphold such an enchantment on her own and then defend herself if she were to be attacked.
Hermione raised her wand and felt for her magic. It was still a torrent of power within her, urging for release, to be utilised for whatever she desired. She moved her wand in a gentle fluid waving motion in front of her, turning her wrist as she did so. "Protego Maxima... Salvio Hexia..." She began, feeling her magic flowing comfortably through her, threading itself into each of the protective enchantments together into a sturdy ward that she continued to strengthen.
"Repello Muggletum... Meteolojinx Recanto... Repello Magicalus... Protego Horibilis... Obsapio... Insideo Maxima... Salvus Presidium..."
Harry hurried through the deserted Ministry corridor that led to the Muggle-born Registration Commissions' Head Office. Every now and then, a Death Eater would turn into the corridor from an adjoining room or corridor and – although under the Invisibility Cloak – Harry had to press himself up against the wall to prevent from being discovered in the narrow corridor. But eventually, Harry made it to Dolores Umbridges' office.
The Ministry of Magic had been deserted by ministry workers ever since Voldemort had chosen to reside inside the building, they now worked at several of the Ministry's minor branches, scattered across Britain. The workers had left hastily and so there were still quite a lot of documents that had been left behind fortunately, though there were plans to have them distributed to the branches in the next few days. The only thing holding them back from having already done so was the lack of volunteers.
Harry slipped inside the office, not in the least bit surprised to be greeted by the ridiculously feminine room. The walls were a horribly bright shade of pink, dotted with pictures of kittens and other disgustingly cuddly creatures; Harry was half tempted to jinx the pictures so that they instead showed a big, fat, cuddly acromantula instead. That'd be a nice surprise for her, Harry smirked.
He pulled out his wand, but instead of jinxing the ornaments around the room, he tried to summon the Muggle-born reports that he knew were kept inside Umbridge's office.
"Accio reports," he whispered. Nothing in the room even stirred, which meant that it either wasn't in this office or was magically bound and so would not respond to the summoning charm. Harry sighed. Either way, he'd have to look for it by hand.
Harry started with pulling out the draws in the desk, finding nothing but quills, ornamental dolls, and ink pots. He moved on.
Harry made his way around the room, rifling through cupboards and draws looking for anything resembling a stack of parchments, before he finally stopped before a locked cabinet. It was – oddly enough – the only locked cabinet in the entire office, if those reports were to be anywhere, Harry decided, they'd definitely be in there.
"Alohomora," Harry muttered, tapping his wand to the lock. He directed his magic through his wand into the lock and waited for the lock to pop open. It didn't. Harry frowned and tried again, with the same result. He tried all the other unlocking charms that he knew before kicking the blasted cabinet until it fell over with a loud crash, causing Harry to wince.
Surveying the damage in front of him Harry winced again, there were quite a few big dents in the cabinet and a few of the draws fallen out spilling their contents onto the floor- No way, Harry thought, stunned. It couldn't be this easy. Before him all of the draws from the cabinet except for the top which was – evidently – the only locked one of the lot.
Getting down onto his hands and knees, Harry searched through the folders and stacks of parchment that had fallen from the draws. Yes, Harry thought, shuffling through them excitedly, these are exactly what I wanted.
The reports of all Muggle-borns known by the Ministry.
Out of curiosity, however, he began looking through them, searching for Hermione's name. He had set fire to almost all of the reports he placed aside with a simple incendio, before he came across Hermione's. What he saw on it as he made his way down the information caused him to frown in confusion. It read:
Name: Hermione Granger
Status: Alive; Muggle-born; Undesirable No. 6; Muggle-born Undesirable No. 1
Date of Birth: 19 September, 1979
Wand Stolen: Vine, 10¾", dragon heartstring; Walnut, 12¾", dragon heartstring
Owner(s) of Stolen Wand(s): Unknown (however most assuredly stolen); Bellatrix Lestrange
Reward for Information: 500 Galleons
Current Location: Entry Chamber to the British Ministry of Magic, London, England
Other Notes: Ms Granger has been Tracked ever since the Battle of Hogwarts, but any attempts to Snatch her have been thwarted as her location has become unknown whilst she resides within the Order's Unplottable Headquarters.
How could they have made Hermione Trackable? Especially without her knowledge? When could they have possibly have had a chance to do something like that in the middle of a massive battle?
Harry shook his head in a vain attempt to clear his head of the crowding amount of questions running through his head. It didn't matter, at least not at the moment. As long as Hermione remained alive and the plan worked, everything would be okay.
It was only when Harry was watching Hermione's report burn to scorched parchment and then disintegrate into ash, did he read the fine, small print at the footer of the page:
Copy: 4 out of 136
Harry felt his heart stop. They knew that she was here – perhaps even that all of them were here. He really hoped that Hermione had had time to successfully erect the wards before reinforcements arrived. And there would definitely be reinforcements.
Harry stayed sitting for a short while in a stunned stupor, thoughts of panic and fear whirling around in his head. What could he do? Go find Hermione and warn her? No. He'd risk too much going to find her, and if he were captured... Harry shuddered. No one would be able to stop Voldemort. It would be over. He had to go on, as planned. It would be the logical thing to do, and Harry knew that Hermione would agree with him. He'd just have to trust that Hermione could fend for herself.
Harry looked down at the ash covering his pants where Hermione's report had lain.
It was all that they had left.
Love it? Hate it? Criticisms? Any mistakes? Feel free to review and tell me what you think. Thanks for reading