A/N: Ok, not too terribly long since the last one. Hermione will lay everything out for Albus this chapter, and we will also see some long awaited Harry/Draco interaction. (not a pairing, at least not in this story) A big thank you to all of my readers who have stuck with this story, despite my lack of updates and to all the new readers I have picked up since this story began.
After asking the House elves to make sure his and Hermione's things were sent back to Hogwarts, Severus apparated himself and Hermione to the Hogwarts gates. He was instantly struck at how damp it was and he worried for his love. She too noticed the dampness in the air, but rather than worry, she face showed a sense of relief. Severus was puzzled by this and told her as much.
"Oh, I was just glad that inspite of everything, one can still count on the weather in the Scottish Highlands to be a constant. It is mid-November and it feels exactly the way it should feel here. A pleasant constant in an ever-changing world."
Satisfied with that answer, Severus took her hand and cast a disillusionment charm over them so they could walk to the Headmaster's office uninterrupted. He loved the feel of her tiny warm hand in his, and held it just a bit tighter than was necessary. Hermione gave him a smile, and no words between them were necessary to convey how loved and cherished they both were.
The gargoyle in front of the office stepped aside for the Potions master, despite his not having the current password. Hermione giggled somewhat girlishly and Severus gave her a questioning look.
"What, pray tell, do you find amusing?"
"It doesn't matter if it is a First year or a 1000 year old gargoyle, all tremble before the scowl of the Potions Master!"
Severus gave a hearty chuckle at that and they continued up the long winding staircase, stopping occasionally so that Hermione would not tire herself. When they finally reached the office, they found Albus and Minerva having a nightcap.
"Ah, Severus and Hermione! We were not expecting you so soon! Good to have you back. Won't you join us for a drink?"
Severus started to refuse but a quick elbow from Hermione silenced him. Minerva saw the exchange and couldn't suppress a laugh. Albus just twinkled.
"What for you Hermione? I shouldn't be offering you some of the more potent items in my collection, but I imagine a taste won't do you much harm. Your usual, Severus?"
"Indeed. Thank you, Headmaster."
"I believe a cup of tea will do me just fine, Headmaster. I have never cared too much for spirits."
"Ah, indeed. A pity though, I have a rather extensive collection."
"Oh, hush Albus. Hermione does not need to hear about your liquor collection. I don't need to be a mind reader to know that they have something to tell you, so let them get on with it. I imagine they are both tired and would like to get some rest before classes tomorrow."
"Quite right, as always, Minerva dear. Forgive the doddering of an old man."
Minerva gave a snort at that, and Hermione could not suppress a grin. Old man, indeed. The Headmaster handed Hermione a cup of tea and Severus a snifter of brandy. They sat on a big plush couch across from Albus and Minerva.
"Alright, now, what is it you two need to tell me?'
"Well, it is Hermione's story to tell actually. Hermione?"
"Well, I suppose it sounds a bit silly, but I had a dream and I think the dream was showing me how to defeat Voldemort."
The elicited a gasp from Minerva and a grin and twinkle from Albus.
"Well then, my dear. Let's hear it."
"When Harry's parents were killed, everyone said it was old magic that protected Harry from the curse. It was old magic that he used to bring himself back the night Cedric was killed. While there are many in our world who don't really believe in the old magic anymore, there is no way we can continue to deny its existence and particularly its usefulness. We need to use the old magic that Voldemort himself holds in high regard against him, to undo him, body and soul. The old magic is as varied in kind as the plants in the Forbidden Forest, and by combining as many elements of that magic into one single spell, cast by all parts, except Harry, at the same time, we can undo the magic that holds his body together and that binds his soul to this world."
Albus pondered for a moment, while Minerva simply looked a bit dumbstruck. Just when Hermione was convinced that he hated the idea, he beamed at her with a genuine smile and look of pride.
"I always knew we could expect great things from you, Hermione. Please continue. I am sure you have more."
"Yes, I do. There are certain numbers that are important in the old magic, most specifically 3, 5, 7 and 9. 3 and 9 are the most important of those, but the others are very significant as well. The circle is the most well known of the symbols, especially that which contains a pentacle. I am proposing 4 separate but concentric circles each one made up of a different element of the old magic. The first will obviously be Harry, Ron and myself. We will be in more of a semi circle, with Voldemort being the other point in the circle. We aren't the Gryffindor Golden Trio for nothing. The next will be elemental magic, Earth Air Fire Water and Spirit, which is what the points of the pentacle represent. I am recommending teachers for this as elemental magic is sometimes taxing to the system. The group of 7 will be those who represent some of the magical creatures of our world, such as Remus, Hagrid, Firenze, and Fleur. I am sure we can come up with 3 more in no time. The group of 9 may be the most difficult. We will need a trio of students from each of the remaining 3 houses. Hogwarts is in and of itself old magic, and it has been strengthened by everyone who has ever walked through these halls for the last thousand years. Each trio will need to truly exemplify the characteristics of their house. All of us, casting what will basically be a supercharged Finite Incantum to undo his magic should be enough to break him. Harry will be the only one casting a different spell, and his will be in Parseltongue, to banish the pieces of Voldemort's soul once our spell has fractured it and destroyed his body. It sound complex, I know, and yet in some ways quite simple. I honestly think this is the best chance we have at beating him."
Albus stood up and crossed the short distance to where Hermione sat. The aged wizard looked every bit of his 100+ years, but there was no mistaking the power in his gaze. He locked eyes with the young witch, before giving her a deep bow followed by a grandfatherly embrace.
"My dear, I do believe that you have, in fact, figured out what the rest of us have been trying to figure out for the last 50 years. If this works, and I truly believe it will, the entire Wizarding world will owe you the debt of our very existence. Well done, my dear. Well done."
And there you have it. The plan to bring him down. Will it work? We'll find out in a few chapters. I know I promised some Draco?harry interaction, but it will have to wait until the next chapter. Review if you like. I will get the next one up as soon as I can.