Chapter 1: Liability

Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to Harry Potter.

Hermione jumped at the sound of someone knocking on her bedroom door. She turned sharply and let out a sigh of relief when she saw Harry and Ron standing in the doorway. The three of them had become a bit jumpy during the summer ever since Molly learned that they were up to something. She smiled at them and held up two books.

"Good. You two are here," she said. "I can't figure out which we should take with us. I'm stuck between Compendium of Common Curses and their Counter-Actions…and Curses and Counter-curses."

"Hermione," Ron said softly, avoiding her gaze.

She exhaled and let her arms drop do her sides, her hands still clutching the tomes. "I know, I know. They both sound the same, but I think Compendium is a bit more comprehensive and proved useful in D.A., but I've always had a fondness for Counter Curses."

"Hermione," Ron said a bit more loudly.

Tilting her head to the side, she smiled fondly at her two best friends. "I know. It would probably just be easier to take them both. It would be better if we were extra prepared, right?"

"Hermione, we need to talk to you," Ron gritted out.

Her expression softened at the seriousness in his tone. Gently, she placed the books down on her bed and sat down, folding her legs beneath her.

"What is it?" she asked.

"Err," Harry spoke up, "there's real no easy way to say this, but—"

"We want you to stay behind," Ron blurted out.

Hermione wasn't sure how to react. Actually, she wasn't even sure she heard him right.

"I'm sorry, you want me to what?" she squeaked.

Ron cast an uneasy glance in Harry's direction, who shifted nervously from foot to foot. Pressing his lips together, Ron crossed the room and gingerly sat down on the bed next to her. He moved his hands to cover hers, but changed his mind at the last moment.

"I—we think it's for the best," he told her. "We don't—"

"No." Hermione's voice was shaky and hoarse. "No, Ron." She finally turned her head to look at him, anger and fury obvious in her glistening eyes. "You need me. Harry needs both of us."

"Harry and I've been talking about that, actually," Ron tried to explain. "We don't want you to get hurt and honestly, just the two of us would be difficult to conceal. Harry's not happy about me coming along as it is. He's a bit daft wanting to do this alone, if you ask me."

At this point, unbeknownst to Hermione and Ron, Harry had closed the door and cast a silencing charm. They already caused enough damage by telling the rest of the Weasleys that Hermione would not be joining them on their errand. The two boys had enough trouble trying to weasel themselves out of having to explain that they couldn't tell anyone what they were doing.

They did, however, make it clear to the rest of the Weasleys that Hermione was not to return to school. It would be unsafe, now that Dumbledore was gone.

He almost didn't realize that he zoned out for a bit. When he returned his attention to his two best friends, Hermione was shrieking at Ron and hitting him with one of the books. Harry cringed when he realized it was the heavier of the two.

"You ungrateful" — whack! — "selfish" — whack! — "stupid—"

Before she could assault Ron again, Harry decided it was time to intervene. "Hermione, stop. Stop!"

She turned to glare at him, book raised slightly. She was poised to hit him next. Before she could, however, he backed up slightly.

"How could you?" she demanded accusingly.

"It's for the best," Ron tried to explain desperately, rubbing the spot where she attacked him. "We don't—"

"Want me to get hurt," she mimicked, turning on him again. "Yes, I know. You've said that already. Well, what about you? I'm sure Harry doesn't want you to get hurt, right? So what's so different about me? Is it because I'm a girl? Do you think I'm weak?"

"No, of course not!" Ron answered quickly. "It's just…you're…"

"I'm what?"

"You're a…"

"I'm a what?" Hermione growled.

Ron refused to look at her, instead staring at his feet.

"Say it, Ron," she demanded. She had a sinking feeling she already knew what he was about to say, but she wanted to hear the words coming from his mouth. She wanted confirmation.

He swallowed hard. Finally, he dragged his head up, but still refused to meet her gaze. "It's just…you're a…"

He trailed off again, not quite sure how to say what he wanted without being hurtful. He looked at Harry for help, but he refused to even look at him.

"I'm a Mudblood," she whispered for him. Coward.

Ron let out a strangled noise that neither confirmed nor denied it.

She choked back a sob that had started to work its way up her throat. "You don't want me to come because I'm a Mudblood," she spat, voice wavering.

"Hermione, we just think it's better if you stay here where it's safer."

She sighed heavily and sat back down on the bed. "Of all the times I helped you out of messes you got yourselves into. Of all the times you needed my help. How about first year with the Sorcerer's Stone? Or all the times I helped you, Harry with everything during the Triwizard Tournament? DA? I've been nothing but loyal to both of you and this is how you repay me? By asking me to stay home because it's safer?"

Once her rant was done, she looked up at Ron to find him looking even more uneasy.

"Hermione…" he started, but failed. He wasn't sure how to say it. But he didn't need to; the look on his face was answer enough.

"I'm a liability," she whispered, her face beet red. "You don't want me to come because I'm a liability. You think because I'm a Mudblood I'll endanger you two even more."

"It's safer for you," Ron repeated.

"No," she spat, standing up again. "It's safer for you." She turned to Harry. "And what about you, hmm? You haven't said a word. Was this your idea?"

His lack of response was answer enough. Exhaling sharply, she marched out of the room.

-oOo-

Hermione hadn't spoken to Harry and Ron since they broke the news to her. She was hoping she wouldn't have to speak to them again before they left, but she knew seeing them would be inevitable. Even if she couldn't go with them, she still had to help them in whatever way they could. Though she was livid with the two of them, they still needed her…even if they didn't want to admit it.

It wasn't until Bill and Fleur's wedding that she finally approached them. She walked unsteadily to the table where Harry and Ron were sitting and dropped two identical beaded black bags. The boys started at the surprisingly loud thump the small bags made.

"Going away gifts?" Ron asked uncertainly. His shaky smile quickly faded at her deadly scowl.

"I know it's hard for you," Hermione replied icily, sitting down across the table from them, "but don't be so stupid. I may be a...liability to you both, but that doesn't mean I still can't help. I packed everything you'll need into this bag." She pushed one of the bags towards Harry, offering Ron an icy glare. "I'll keep the other for myself."

With a small sigh, she glanced around the garden before returning her attention to her friends. She reached into her bag and pulled out three coins. She handed one to Harry, hesitating before tossing the other to Ron.

"What are these?" Ron asked, turning his coin over in his palm.

"These look like the ones from—"

"D.A., yes," Hermione interrupted, not even bothering to look pleased that Harry actually remembered. "I made some alterations, however. All you have to do is speak the simple incantation and my coin will vibrate to let me know you want to talk, and vice versa."

"What's the incantation?" Harry asked.

"Loqui per pecuniam," she whispered, nodding once in satisfaction when the coins gave a slight buzz.

Harry beamed at her. "This is brilliant!" he exclaimed, turning the coin over in his hands before pocketing it. He reached out to touch the fabric of the bag, admiring it. "How did you fit everything in here?"

She shrugged. "It's a simple spell, really," she replied vaguely as she got to her feet, bag in hand. She looked Ron in the eye before saying, "Any idiot can do it." She walked away before she could say anything mean to Ron, who she knew deserved it.

-oOo-

"So, I haff to ask," Viktor said as he twirled Hermione around.

"Yes?" She lifted her eyebrows at him.

"Are you and Veasley together?"

She started coughing, causing Viktor to cease dancing and clap her on the back. She had to think fast. On one hand, if she told him that she wasn't seeing Ron, Viktor might swoop in and try to ask her out, which is not something she wanted — especially not now. She definitely didn't want to say yes; she felt a little repulsed by the idea of claiming to be with someone who clearly didn't want to.

So instead, she went with a completely different answer.

"There's, err, someone else," she replied with a small shrug. When she and Viktor resumed dancing, she glared at Ron over the Bulgarian's shoulder.

"Ron and I sort of didn't work out."

"Vot happened?"

"We had a difference of opinion," she said flatly. That was the understatement of the century Shaking her head, she smiled fondly at him. "It is good to see you, though."

He smiled thinly at her. "And you, as vell. I vos sorry to hear about Dumbledore. Vot vill you do now?"

Hermione frowned. "I'm not really sure, to be honest. I don't think I can go back to school."

"You alvays haff a plan," he reminded her

She glared at Harry and Ron again. "I know," she replied. "I suppose things are just bigger than they seem to be."

-oOo-

Hermione sighed and set down the empty bottle of butterbeer onto the table covered with food and drink. She had finally managed to escape several dances with Viktor and was now at a loss of what to do. She refused to speak to Harry and Ron again and avoided them at all cost. She talked to Ginny a little bit, but had to leave before she could accidentally reveal what the two boys were planning on doing. Even though she wasn't going with them, she still couldn't betray their trust to keep their mission quiet.

She grudgingly realized she would have to eventually talk to Harry and Ron before their departure, whenever that was. She wanted to make sure they knew where they were going when they finally left. They had to know that they had to keep moving and not stay in one place for too long. They had to…

She let out a gasp at the sudden sight of a silvery light as it floated gracefully down to the centre of the dance floor. She watched in confused amazement as it slowly transformed into a lynx. It spoke with Kingsley's voice.

"The Ministry has fallen. Scrimgeour is dead. They are coming."

Harry and Ron had to leave now. Amidst the frantic screams and running, she forced herself through the ever moving crowd, searching for them. She saw Harry standing alone, clutching the bag she gave him. When he caught her eye, he ran up to her.

"Where's Ron?" he asked.

"I could ask you the same thing," she shot back. "You two have to get out of here!" She gripped his arm tightly so she wouldn't lose him as they wove through the chaos. Part of her never wanted to let go, but knew she had to.

"Ron!" he shouted, searching wildly around for any sign of him in the sea of panicked wedding guests.

Many were already disapparating away, not wanting to deal with the mayhem. Some chose to stay and fight.

"Harry!" Ron panted as he ran up to them.

Hermione instantly let go of Harry's arm, shoving him forcefully towards Ron. Harry looked at her for help and she hastily whispered something in his ear.

"Go," she said forcefully, trying not to let her tears show. She was frightened and felt so out of control over what might or might not happen. It was a feeling she was not accustomed to. "Go!" she shouted.

And before she could watch them safely leave, she felt two sets of hands wrap around her arms and the sudden, all too familiar feeling of being disapparated.

A/N: This is a rewrite of the original version of Human Element. I made some changes and even wrote out an outline. It will be shorter this time around, about 13 chapters plus an epilgoue. There will be no sequel (Divine Intervention). I'm hoping that updates will be weekly. Thanks for reading! I'll be responding to reviews with sneak peeks to the next chapter.

Locqui per pecuniam means "talk through money" in Latin. The Ministry has fallen line is from Deathly Hallows