Harry Potter and Future's Past

Starts out the day after the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry and Hermione meet the Goddess of Love, and she offers to let them go back in time. Strictly Harry and Hermione. Minor - well maybe major Ginny, Ron and Dumbledore Bashing. Soul Bond - Time Travel

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5664828/1/Harry-Potter-and-Future-s-Past

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19. Chapter 19 Horcruxes

June 20th 1996 continued

"Good morning Mr. Potter and Miss Granger," The Headmaster started in his best grandfatherly tone once the two of them were situated in chairs in front of his desk. "It seems we've had quite an exciting last couple of days."

"Yes sir," Harry replied with a tone that left no doubt he wasn't there to engage in small talk.

"Very well," Dumbledore said. He sat back in his chair and waited for a couple of seconds before continuing. "Last night you offered to find the object that Pettigrew was here to recover while yesterday morning you demanded that I tell you how Voldemort survived years ago."

"Yes sir."

"The fact of the matter is that those two things are very much related I do believe," Dumbledore paused again. His hand instinctively reached for the bowl of yellow candies and he took one. "Harry, as I said yesterday morning, I believe through the prophecy you are the single most important person in this struggle so I am left with no choice. This is not a decision I take lightly and hope you understand that what I tell you today must not go further than this office. I suppose if you must, you can tell young Mr. Weasley..."

"No sir, as we told you yesterday our friendship with Ron is over," Harry said. "Neville and Luna Lovegood have proven to be much better friends."

"Surely you wouldn't let a simple misunderstanding threaten your friendship," Dumbledore said. "You're still very young..."

"Sir, please," Harry interrupted the Headmaster. "Please accept that no time in the near future will I try to reconcile with Ron."

"Very well," Dumbledore replied discouragingly. "I hesitate to suggest the same trust with Mr. Longbottom and Miss Lovegood."

"I personally feel they are more trustworthy than Ron," Harry said. "I think they also proved their friendship the night before last."

"I agree," Hermione added. "Neither of them expressed jealousy over Harry's fame or our relationship."

"Let's revisit this afterwards shall we. Once you understand the importance of what I am to tell you, you might reconsider your stance. I feel with the struggles you may face in the future, you'll need the support of your closest friends," Dumbledore didn't want to mention that he wished to keep the Weasleys in Harry's life. He felt they represented the goodness in the Wizarding World that Harry would have to fight and possibly die for.

Harry shrugged as he looked over at Hermione knowing that wasn't possible. He then looked back at Dumbledore and waited.

Again Dumbledore hesitated. It was several seconds before he continued. "I do wish I had my Pensieve. It would allow me to show you several things that I feel are important to the story."

"What story?" Hermione asked. "I thought we were here to find out how Voldemort stayed alive."

"You are of course, but I would prefer for you to understand some things about Tom Riddle so you can better understand what he has done to remain alive."

"What do you mean understand Tom Riddle?" Harry asked. "What's to understand?" Harry really was happy to not have to relive those memories again. "He's a mass murderer who doesn't have the decency to stay dead when he's killed. In the graveyard last year he told me himself he'd gone further than anyone else to achieve immortality. We just want to know what exactly he meant by that. If I am supposed to be the only one who can kill him, I think knowing how he is staying alive is the first step."

"Still I will tell you a little of Riddle's background and then we'll get to his methods," Dumbledore insisted. "Tom, as you know, is a direct descendant of Salazar Slytherin. That came from his mother, a woman named Merope Gaunt," Dumbledore paused as he would in a classroom lecture and after a couple of seconds continued. "By the time she was born, the descendants of Salazar Slytherin had withered to a single poor uneducated bigoted family. But as you also know Riddle was a half blood."

"Yes, so how did a poor pure-blooded bigot end up marrying a muggle?" Harry asked trying to get the story moving.

"She herself didn't harbor the same views as her father and brother; in fact she developed a crush on a young rich muggle man who rode near their home frequently."

"And what? Fairy tale where she captivated the man and they run off together?" Hermione asked trying to drag the story out of Dumbledore.

"No, this was no fairy tale. The young lady ensnared the man in some magical fashion."

"Imperius?" Hermione asked knowing Dumbledore thought it was otherwise.

"Possibly, though I think potions are more likely," Dumbledore replied. "I think she was a romantic at heart and a love potion would have fit her ideas of that more. As I said, the man she wanted rode past her home often. A hot day, a cold drink, I think you get the idea."

"Yes sir. I know that his mother died shortly after his birth and that his father had abandoned him before he was even born," Harry said with a hint of impatience. "I found all of that out in my second year from that...that diary Riddle. I even know he grew up in an orphanage, a place he hated."

Dumbledore sighed. "Yes, but allow me to tell the story."

"But why is it important to know all of this?"

"It's important to know why Tom hates muggles so much. He didn't know his mother had ensnared his father with magic. He thought his father had abandoned his mother because he found out she was a witch. He blamed his father for the life he led, for the life he hated at the orphanage he lived in. Later in fact, his father and his family were found murdered by what was obviously a killing curse."

"Voldemort did it?" Harry asked, again knowing he'd get the tale of Morfin.

"In public records you'll find that Tom's uncle, his name was Morfin Gaunt confessed to the crime. It was confirmed that his wand was used to commit the murders."

"But you don't believe it do you?" Hermione asked.

"No...again I wish I had my pensieve," Dumbledore repeated in a wistful voice as he glanced at the cabinet he normally kept it in. "Near the end of his life I was able to visit Morfin and secure his memory of that night. It took a bit of coaxing but I learned a lot. You see Tom Riddle came to visit him the day the murders happened. It was then he discovered who his father was. I believe Tom stunned Morfin and took his wand. He then killed his father and his family before returning to the shack where the Gaunts lived. He changed his uncle's memories and then left his wand near him."

"How did you get the memories if Tom changed them?" Harry asked.

"A skilled Legilimens can coax modified memories out especially if it was done poorly. Riddle at that time was only a student, a gifted student but not enough experience to truly do the job well," Dumbledore explained as he leaned forward in his chair.

"So basically because an uneducated witch potioned a muggle an untold number of people have died?" Hermione asked.

"That's a very succinct way of stating such a complex issue but yes."

"Do you think if Ginny had succeeded, she and I could have had a kid that grew up to be the next Dark Lord?" Harry asked his wife only half joking.

"Maybe," Hermione answered. "Especially if you named the child Albus Severus like we joked about earlier."

"What about Severus Albus? He could then have been a SAP like his namesakes," Harry replied before a shudder ran through him as he quickly shunned all thoughts of such a future out of his mind. "So, what does that have to do with Voldemort's immortality?" He asked the Headmaster.

"To defeat someone, you must understand them Harry," Dumbledore explained. "Especially Tom Riddle. As powerful as he is, I feel he has many weaknesses, but maybe you're correct and this isn't the day for that discussion," He sat back in his chair again and studied the two young people for several seconds before continuing. "As I said earlier, what I'm going to tell you must not get out. If Voldemort knew I had found out his secret, he'd make finding them much harder."

"Finding what sir?" Harry asked jumping on the next thing.

"His Horcruxes," Dumbledore replied after only a small hesitation.

"What's a Horcrux?" Harry asked as he struggled to keep his faced inquisitive.

"The darkest magic imaginable. You see, a magical person can split his soul and if he has enough power, he can put a part of it in a...a container shall we say," Dumbledore explained. "That container is called a Horcrux. As long as a part of a person's soul remains locked away in a Horcrux, that person cannot die. His body can be destroyed, but his soul would remain behind waiting to return."

"A ghost sir?" Hermione asked what would have seemed to be a logical question.

"No, a ghost is but an imprint of a departed soul, not a part of the actual soul itself."

"And that's how Voldemort did it? Stayed alive I mean? And that thing in the Room of Requirements that Pettigrew was..." Hermione asked but left the sentence suggestive.

"I do believe..."

"The diary," Harry exclaimed trying to move the conversation along. "It was his Horcrux wasn't it? I mean I remember him saying he poured some of his own soul back into Ginny...Voldemort's soul!"

"Yes Harry that was indeed a Horcrux. When you handed it to me that evening all those years ago, I finally had the proof I'd been searching for. I had proof that Voldemort had indeed split his soul."

"But...but Harry destroyed it so how could Voldemort still be alive?" Hermione asked as they tried to push Dumbledore into admitting more Horcruxes. "And if it's not a Horcrux, what do you think Peter was here to get?"

"Ah...Harry you mentioned earlier something that bears on this conversation at this point," Dumbledore stated. "You said Voldemort told you he'd gone further than any other wizard down the path of immortality."

"So he...he must have made more than one?" Harry asked trying to appear shocked.

"Exactly," Dumbledore beamed as he was sure he'd led the teens down the path of enlightenment.

"How many did he create?" Hermione asked.

Dumbledore sighed as the happiness left his face. "That is a question that I have pondered for a while now. Ever since I was certain it was Horcruxes that Riddle had created."

"Is there a limit to how many you can make? From what I've read and experienced with Harry, Voldemort has always considered himself the most powerful or the best at everything," Hermione said as they tried to give the answer to Dumbledore. "He wouldn't settle for second best, I mean last year he had to have Harry's blood because it was best for his purpose even though any enemy's blood would have worked to resurrect him."

Dumbledore grimaced slightly at the mention of Harry's blood and horcruxes.

"In Arithmancy Professor Vector said seven was the most powerful magical number," Hermione continued. "Is it possible that he could split his soul into seven pieces? If it is, I'm sure that's what he'd do."

"Very good Miss Granger, though it is only speculation I think you may be right. Unfortunately I fear we need proof of that to be certain, otherwise we're risking all on a hunch," Dumbledore said. "Until we are sure all of his Horcruxes are destroyed, we will be unable to kill Riddle." A sadness descended upon the Headmaster as he knew he looked upon the last horcrux sitting in front of him. "Now is not the time for that though. I need him to trust me, to trust that I know what must be done. I must find a way to convince him to DO what must be done," He thought. Finally he turned his mind back to the conversation. "I hope you now can see why keeping this quiet is extremely important. If Tom knew I was searching for his Horcruxes, he'd make them impossible to find."

"Do you have any ideas on where they may be?" Hermione asked.

"I had hoped to find one in the Chamber of Secrets," Dumbledore admitted. "But even though I searched it, none were to be found. Though I did realize why afterwards."

"Why sir?"

"Remember that he made his first when he was only sixteen years old," Dumbledore explained. "I am positive he used the death of Myrtle to accomplish the endeavor."*

"So...it takes a death to create a Horcrux?" Harry asked knowing full well what it took.

"It takes murdering someone. The ultimate act of evil."

"Then it couldn't have been Myrtle, unless you can create the Horcrux days or even weeks after the murder," Hermione remarked. "I mean according to Harry, the Diary Voldemort knew about things happening well after Myrtle's murder including knowing you were watching him. In fact I think Harry said that Voldemort mentioned it was only AFTER you started watching him once Hagrid was expelled did he think to leave the Diary."

"I guess I only heard what I thought I was going to hear when Harry told me the tale," Dumbledore admitted. "That is a very good observation Miss Granger. I don't think it will bear any great meaning about how many Horcruxes Riddle created but I shall have to rethink that part of what I know."

"Thank you Professor."

"Now let us discuss what I feel Peter was here to retrieve," Dumbledore said. "He said Voldemort called it a Diadem. I think that is very important."

"Why would it be? Isn't that just another name for a tiara or crown?" Hermione asked.

"Yes but you see I think and this is something else my Pensieve would have assisted me in showing you, I think that Riddle is collecting objects that are associated with the founders..."

"You don't think it's the lost Diadem of Ravenclaw do you?" Hermione asked in a surprised voice.

"You're familiar with it?" Dumbledore asked.

"Luna mentioned it just recently," Hermione answered. "She said her father wanted to recreate it, but hasn't it been lost ever since Rowena Ravenclaw herself died?"

"Yes, but if anyone could have found it, it would be Tom Riddle," Dumbledore replied. "Of course there is no guarantee that's what it is. You should alert me to anything that might resemble a jeweled headpiece for examination."

"Of course sir," Hermione replied.

"Do either of you have any questions?" Dumbledore asked.

"Do you have any other ideas of what his Horcruxes might be or where they might be located?" Harry asked in return.

"I am positive I know where one is," He replied. "In fact if you would, I'd like you to assist me in something Harry," Dumbledore paused for a couple of seconds but finally he rose from his seat and walked over to a cabinet where he tapped his wand in a complex pattern on its door. When he finished, the cabinet sprung open. Dumbledore reached inside and pulled out a very familiar item; the gold locket of Salazar Slytherin. He briefly stared at it before returning to his seat. As he sat back down, he placed the locket in the middle of the desk. Both Harry and Hermione eyed it with disgust. They each could feel the effects it had on them from the months of carrying it around with them.

"I recognize that sir," Harry said finally. "It...it was at Sirius' house. When we were cleaning it this past summer we found it, but I thought it got thrown out."

"Fortunately it seems it was retrieved by Kreacher," Dumbledore explained. "This is the locket of Salazar Slytherin himself. Kreacher told a very interesting tale about. It seems Voldemort had hidden it away but Sirius' bother Regulus retrieved it and in doing so perished."

"Do you...you think it's a Horcrux?"

"Most likely," Dumbledore responded. "Most likely indeed. From what Kreacher said, Riddle went to most extraordinary lengths to hide it away in a cave. But as you found out this past summer, it's not easily opened. I have yet to find a way myself, but I think it might be possible for you Harry."

"What do you mean? I couldn't open it last summer," Harry didn't want to jump too quickly to the right answer and raise suspicion.

"But now you know who the locket belonged too," Dumbledore explained. "What does that tell you?"

"Slytherin's locket?" Harry asked. "Parselmouth?"

"Excellent," Dumbledore said as again his eyes beamed as he thought he'd led Harry to the answer. "Yes I believe you are the only person outside of Tom Riddle who can open this locket," He once again rose to his feet and walked over to the wall where the Sword of Gryffindor hung. "I think we must first prepare ourselves," Dumbledore explained. "A Horcrux's container must be destroyed beyond the ability of magic to repair it."

"The sword can do that?" Hermione asked wanting to see if her guess had been correct a little over a year in the future about the Basilisk venom.

"Originally the sword could not, but I think it will now," Dumbledore answered. "You see Goblin made weapons will absorb or take in anything that will make it stronger. This sword came in contact with just such a thing; something that is known to destroy horcruxes for it did just that three years ago."

Harry played along as he said. "But I destroyed the other one with a Basilisk fang."

"The fang itself wasn't what did it Harry," Dumbledore continued in his grandfatherly voice. "It was the venom in that fang. The sword itself absorbed some of that venom when you killed the Basilisk. Now it also should be able to destroy a Horcrux."

"You know, it would have been nice to have mentioned that to me sometime in the future," Harry said to Hermione. "What if we had gotten that sword per his will and one of us had accidentally cut ourselves with it. We would've been dead without Fawkes there. I know you thought of it but what if you hadn't?" He nodded to the Headmaster who had moved back and stood by his seat.

"Now from what you experienced last time, I would like to avoid any unnecessary risks. Once you open it, I want you and Hermione to move away quickly," Dumbledore instructed as he pulled out his wand and laid it on the desk within easy reach. "I do not believe this one will be as strong as the diary but no reason to take chances."

Harry was glad he wouldn't be around the locket. He was concerned about what it might say about him or Hermione. It might say something about them being from the future or other secrets they now had locked away. He took a deep breath and looked at Dumbledore. "I'm ready sir," He could see the Headmaster's grip tighten on the sword hilt before he nodded. Harry looked down at the locket and focused on the snake on the front of it. "§Open§" He hissed. When he saw the locket start to open he moved quickly away from it and to Hermione's side. They both pulled out their wands and waited to see what would happen.

The halves of the locket split and Harry knew that eyes were looking up from the locket. Eyes that looked like Tom Riddle's from many years previous. For a split second he expected to see the images of him and Hermione materialize from it as it did on a cold night next to a pond, but though it was the same voice, different words came.

"Your heart is open to me Albus Dumbledore."

Dumbledore stared at the locket inquisitively, but raised the sword ready to destroy the Horcrux. He hesitated when an image of a young girl arose from golden locket.

Harry gasped as he saw what had materialized. He recognized the young girl from a portrait that hung on the wall of the Hogs Head Inn. Harry realized he should have known what would happen. He knew he should have guessed the locket would attack with Arianna Dumbledore, the Headmaster's true weakness.

"Professor, destroy it...destroy the locket sir!" Harry exclaimed.

"You would kill me again?" The Riddle-Arianna asked as she looked up at her brother. "Aberforth was right; you were responsible for my death."

Harry could see wetness appear in Dumbledore's eyes and knew the struggle he was facing.

"You who could not be bothered by a sister while you dreamed..."

"PROFESSOR!" Harry yelled. He could see the sword was close to the locket but Dumbledore's eyes were fixed on his sister's image. The Headmaster was frozen as he stared at the locket. Harry crossed the room in three strides and grabbed the exposed part of the hilt. He shoved forward on it and the sword pierced through the locket just as Riddle-Arianna was saying "Love of Gellert.." A scream echoed in the office as the Horcrux died.

Dumbledore blinked as he looked up and realized what had happened. "Thank you Harry," He said quietly. "That was...very difficult," He murmured as he sat down heavily. The sword fell onto the desk with a solid THUMP as he released his grip. For the next two minutes Dumbledore sat and did nothing. Finally he reached over and took the locket in hand. In his mind he could still see and hear his sister's accusations. Seconds became a minute and then two; he seemed to not notice that Harry and Hermione were still there as the painful memories from a long ago childhood passed through his mind.

"Is...is it safe now?" Hermione asked trying to sound nervous but the Headmaster didn't answer.

"Professor," Harry finally said when Dumbledore still eyed the locket without speaking, "What did it mean by what she said?"

Dumbledore eyes stayed on the locket for several seconds more until they finally rose to find Harry's. Wetness glistened in them making the blue lighter in color. "Forgive me but there are some things that are best left buried," He said finally.

"Yes sir," Harry said. "Of course. So...it was definitely a horcrux?"

Again it was several seconds before Dumbledore answered as he had looked back down at the locket. Finally he answered quietly. "Yes, that was most definitely a Horcrux," He finally regained himself and sat the locket down on his desk. He sighed heavily. "Be careful when you are searching for the Diadem. Do not try to summon it. It's possible that there are defensive measures around it that might react to magic. If you do find it, come get me before trying to move it."

"Definitely," Harry said. "Are you alright sir?" Harry asked as he could still see a haunted look in the Headmaster's eyes.

"I will be," Dumbledore replied truthfully.

Harry took Hermione's hand and turned toward the door. As they neared it Hermione remembered Hufflepuff's cup. She turned back to the Headmaster. "Professor Dumbledore, I just had a thought."

"Yes?"

"Well Voldemort gave one of his Horcruxes to Lucius Malfoy right?"

"Yes, but I am sure that Lucius did not know what he possessed."

"Yes sir, but what if he gave another one to a different Death Eater?"

"It is most definitely a possibility," Dumbledore replied.

"Oh, then of course you must have already planned to search the houses and vaults of those who died at the Ministry?" Hermione said. "I mean that's exactly what the Decree for Justifiable Confiscation was made for."

Neither Harry nor Hermione missed the slightly widening of the Headmaster's eyes before he spoke. "I have a meeting with the Minister scheduled for later this morning. I am sure the subject will be broached. It must be approached delicately though to insure no one else finds out about the Horcruxes."

"Of course sir," Hermione replied.

"Good luck on your search. And please remember to not touch the Diadem if you find it."

"We won't," Hermione said. "Would it be possible to maybe block off that hallway? Make sure no one but us and our friends can get to the room?"

"Your friends? You plan on having Mr. Longbottom and Miss Lovegood join you?"

"Yes sir. If the room is as big as Peter suggested, we will need all the help we can get."

Dumbledore eyed them over his half-moon glasses. "I must insist you do not mention what we discussed here."

"We understand sir; we can just tell them we're looking for something that Voldemort cursed."

"Very well then," Dumbledore agreed as a sense of elation grew inside of him. With the fact that they had been willing to listen and not discuss Horcruxes with their friends, he felt he'd won a battle to regain the teens' trust. "I will arrange some means to prevent students from accessing that hall, but I do not want to do anything that would draw attention to the fact you're searching for something."

"Yes sir. We'll keep quiet about it sir."

Again Dumbledore felt he'd achieved another small victory and he knew how to win a bit more of their trust back. "Miss Granger, have you sent the owl to your parents yet? I feel the quicker I put up the wards the better."

"I was going to send it today."

"Please do so as soon as possible so I can make sure the wards are in place before you arrive home."

"Thank you sir," Hermione replied. "That is most appreciated."

As Albus Dumbledore watched the teens leave his office, he felt he had regained some control of the situation.

"Another hurdle," Harry said silently as he turned to look at his wife. "Using Peter was brilliant, you're brilliant."

"It was you standing up to him yesterday. You almost had me convinced we were going to Beauxbatons next year."

"Shall we head for the Room?"

"Let's get the owl sent to my parents first and then I want to check on Ginny's potions."

Twenty minutes later, they were in the Owlry. Hermione's letter to her parents proved to be a challenge. She remembered that she'd not been able to write them much during the fifth year since Umbridge had curtailed communications, but she could not remember what she might have told them. She was also faced with making sure she didn't reference anything that her parents might not have told her yet. She ended up writing a long letter that didn't say much but stressed that everything was fine. She then told them that the Headmaster would personally be around soon to increase magical protection at their house.

While Hermione battled with the letter, Harry sat on a pile of straw talking to Hedwig. The loss of the owl had been brutal and this was the first time he'd come up to see the owl since they had come back in time. When he'd first laid eyes on his friend for so many years he'd been unable to contain the tears that had fallen.

"Hedwig," Harry said gently. "You will never be in a cage again. I just want you to fly to Sirius or Hermione's parents' home instead of being caged," The owl nuzzled Harry's face. "You're now as much Hermione's as you are mine. She's my wife so you obey her as you would me."

Hedwig looked questioningly at Harry and then flew off his shoulder and landed softly on Hermione's as to say she understood. She gave a quiet 'prek' and looked at her new mistress with her large yellow eyes.

Hermione returned the gaze of the owl and smiled. "So you'll share Harry with me?"

The owl gave another 'prek'.

Hermione looked over at Harry. "I'll tell Crookshanks the same thing, but don't expect much. He doesn't even obey me...he's a cat."

Harry grinned as he enjoyed the sight of Hedwig on Hermione's shoulder. He then thought of the stuffed owls and cages the others had that night at Privet Drive to fool Death Eaters and he shook his head as he remembered what it had led to. "Why didn't I just let you fly free then?" He said to the owl. His eyes moved to his wife who was looking back at him as she felt his sadness. "Why did you have those cages and Hedwigs? I mean it was one more thing to have burdened all of the teams. I could have sent Hedwig days earlier or with the Dursleys to be released once they were far enough away."

"I don't remember who suggested it," Hermione replied softly as she looked up. "I was just worried about you getting out of there alive."

"So did you like being me?" Harry asked with a smirk.

"Let's just say that riding a Thestral as you was a bit more painful than riding one as me," Hermione replied. "Though I never thought to actually examine..." She trailed off as she thought again of the two year older Harry causing her to blush. It was a couple of minutes before Hermione's attention went back to the note to her parents as Harry sat silently waiting.

While Harry waited his mind turned back to that day of escaping from Privet Drive. He looked at Hermione who still had Hedwig on her shoulder. As his wife reached up and absentmindedly stroked the owl, Harry could see a glint of gold around her neck. "The Time Turner," He thought as he realized what it was. He suddenly straightened up. "I know how to do it," He exclaimed.

"Do what?"

"Make Dumbledore think you killed Voldemort," Harry replied.

Hermione looked up curiously at her husband.

"Polyjuice Potion and the Time Turner," Harry said. "I think the best time to hit Voldemort is right after he tries to kill me. It really hurt him and he was down on the ground maybe even unconscious. If he's alone he should be vulnerable at that time."

"But you were out at the same time you said," Hermione replied and then she realized what Harry meant by the time turner. "So we go into whatever we are planning with the intention of going back in time. Polyjuice?"

Harry nodded. "You got to be me so it's only fair I get to be you."

"Are you sure you won't be looking down your shirt or at my bits instead of battling Voldemort?" Hermione asked with a wry grin. The grin vanished as she started thinking through the possibility. "But if you are serious about it, I'll need to start brewing it soon. We'll need to have you change a couple of times before you need to fight."

"Why?"

"I wasn't joking about parts of me, or I should say you, hurting on that Thestral," Hermione replied, "but I also wasn't balanced correctly," At the confused look on Harry's face she explained. "As much as you find my breasts fascinating, they are part of my body mass and have to be balanced. I do it naturally but when I was you, I found myself not feeling quite balanced right. If you plan on fighting Voldemort as me, you better plan on getting used to moving as me. It'll at least tell us if it's possible for you to do it," She finished. "I'm not going to lose you just to get back at Dumbledore."

"Do I get to look down my shirt when I'm NOT fighting?" Harry asked causing Hermione to roll her eyes.

"Wished it could make you me during that time of the month...see what you think then," Hermione smirked.

All of a sudden Harry wondered if becoming Hermione was such a good idea.

"Finished," Hermione said as she folded the letter a little later and attached it to Hedwig's leg. "Take it to my house Hedwig," She said. "Give it to my mother."

As they watched the owl fly toward the south on her way to the Grangers, Hermione remembered this time two years previous. This time last time she'd been laying in the hospital bed recovering from the curse by Dolohov. Her hand went to her chest as she could still feel the pain it had caused just as she could still feel the cruciatus curse Bellatrix Lestrange had used. She couldn't help but feel a bit happier that both of those Death Eaters were now dead.

Harry saw the movement and wrapped his arms around her. "No one's going to hurt you this time," He said gently.

"You can't know that Harry," She replied. "There will always be danger until this is all over," She turned to look at him. "But we've already saved Sirius and maybe Dumbledore."

"You've thought of a way to keep him away from the ring?"

"I'm hoping this morning might do it," Hermione said. "When he was mesmerized by the locket you had to help him," They both thought of the look on the Headmaster's face as he saw his sister. "I'm hoping he thinks about having help to go after the ring. If he does, we're the only ones that he really can turn to."

"We can hope," Harry replied "But it is Dumbledore," They turned their gaze back to the horizon as they enjoyed the late spring warmth. It was several seconds before Harry finally broke the silence as he slid his arm around her waist. "Let's go find Luna and Neville for lunch and then head for the Room of Requirements."

"Let's take a quick look at Ginny's potions first," Hermione replied. "I want to get an idea when they'll be ready," She sighed. "I really don't know what to do about her."

"I still hope we can wait until we leave here," Harry remarked. "I'd prefer for Arthur or Molly to deal with it instead of the possibility of her being arrested or getting expelled and making the Weasleys look bad. I just can't do that to Arthur and Molly."

"I agree," Hermione said. "Let's go find out what we're up against then."

Winky and Dobby showed them the little alcove in the cave where the boats landed. As they saw the four cauldrons simmering over never-ending flames Hermione couldn't help but be impressed by the youngest Weasley's planning. "I'd never have thought about here," She admitted. "But it's the perfect place. No one comes down here and it's only used that first night," She walked over to every cauldron and examined them closely. When she got to the last one she frowned. "This one isn't from the list," Hermione said. She conjured a small ladle and dipped some of the potion out. She then spent several minutes casting spells on the liquid. Finally she looked at Harry with a look of trepidation. "She's added a lust potion."

"So she basically wants to rape me?"

"Something like that," Hermione replied as she banished her ladle. "I wonder if she's thinking of enticing you with sex or..."

"Or what?"

"Normally a fifteen year old boy would jump at the chance for sex especially if influenced by that," Hermione nodded at the cauldron. "But...she'd have to know it might not last unless she planned to keep potioning you."

"You're thinking something else?"

"What if she planned on trying to get pregnant? She knows you'd do the honorable thing," Hermione said softly. "You'd leave me and marry her without hesitation."

Harry swallowed hard as he looked at the simmering liquid as he contemplated what Ginny had planned. Finally he looked up at Hermione and answered. "I guess I should be glad Cho and I never hooked up then. I mean if I'd gotten as serious about her as I am about you then this," He motioned to the cauldrons, "might have happened and I wouldn't have known."

"I hope you're glad because you have your soul mate now," Hermione said as she glowered at him. She couldn't hold the look for long as she smiled. "But I know what you mean."

"You're the only one I want to get pregnant..." Harry reddened as he realized what he'd said. "Uh...I mean...eh when like in a few years...you said..."

Hermione laughed at his discomfort. She took his hand and looked him in the eyes. "When we are ready to be parents, I very much want to have your children, but it will be a while before we are ready for that kind of responsibility. We should wait at least three years after we finish school."

"Why?" Harry asked. "I mean I'm in no hurry but why three years?"

"The transition from school to real life is a very stressful time," Hermione explained. "Longer hours are normal since you're junior in whatever you're doing. You're spending a lot of time just learning to do your job. We just need to make sure we have the time to be parents to our children before we have them."

Harry closed his eyes and remembered his parents' home in Godric's Hollow. He imagined a similar home with a white fence around it with a small girl of three or four giggling as she played with a dog in the yard while a very pregnant Hermione was standing next to him watching the little girl as well. His eyes opened and he could see from the look in Hermione's eyes that she'd seen the image in his mind. The moment there shared was interrupted when something tugged on their sleeves.

"Master...Mistress," Winky whispered when they looked down at her. "The red-headed one who made these is coming," She looked over her shoulder as if expecting her to be there. "Dobby is delaying her but it won't last long."

"Get us out of here then," Harry said and held out his hand.

"Wait," Hermione instructed as she pulled out her wand. With a quick movement and a command their footsteps disappeared from the dirt. She gave one more quick look to make sure there were no further evidence of them being there and then took the offered elf's hand. With a 'crack' they disappeared.

Ginny Weasley heard a noise as she finally was able to force the door to the steps into the cave opened. It had been stuck for some reason. She looked around but after seeing nothing she continued to her alcove. She examined each cauldron to make sure they were progressing as expected. She smiled as she saw her own reflection in the emerald looking liquid in one of the cauldrons. "Just like my Harry's eyes..." She thought.

"So what are we going to do?" Harry asked quietly as they walked down the corridor from where Winky had taken them. "I know we're safe from those potions but still I don't want to be worried about everything I drink or eat or worse, worry that she might poison you."

"We don't have to worry yet," Hermione replied, "or at all since we're protected from those types of potions. But even then, the last one of those won't be done until the day before we leave," She'd referenced the instructions to where the liquids were currently. "As long as she's working on this plan she's probably not trying anything else."

"What about Dean?" Harry asked. "Do you think she'll go for him again to try to make me jealous?"

"Possibly," Hermione acknowledged as her lip disappeared under her teeth. "How about this," She said finally. "I'll brew up the antidote to the love potion she's creating and we'll slip it to him when we're getting off the train."

"The train," Harry's eyes lit up. "That's it, that's when she's going to try to get to me or us."

"How do you know?" Hermione asked. "She might try the dinner before."

"No, don't you see, she doesn't know I'm going to Grimmauld place yet. She thinks I'm going to be locked up with the Dursleys again," Harry explained. "No contact with the magical world and all that time for any potions she gives me to work."

"And the same thing for me," Hermione agreed. "Should we tell her you're going to Grimmauld? She might not try it then."

"No. Let her keep thinking what she's thinking. Otherwise she might try to change plans before we leave school," Harry said. "This way we'll be where we can have Arthur or Molly find her."

"That's our plan then."

"We can still have some fun though," Harry said. "We just need a little help from Neville and Luna on the train. Let's go find them, have lunch and go on to the Room of Requirements."

An hour later they were in the Room of Requirements. Neville gave a long low whistle as they entered and saw the cathedral like room. Though Harry had shown them the room in the pensieve of when he was stashing the book and the fight with Malfoy and his goons, seeing it in person was still very impressive.

Luna walked over to a pile of junk and pulled out some kind of shell. "You don't think there's anything alive in here do you?" She asked. "I think this is a dark-bellied stinging Larcomb eggshell. I'd hate for one to sneak up on me if it hatched in here," She glanced around to make sure there wasn't one at that moment anywhere around her.

Hermione thought the eggshell looked more like a dragon one but then remembered that Luna had been right about Miranda. She pulled out her wand and pointed it in a direction, "Anemum Revealio" she said. After verifying no animals were in that direction, she did the same thing for the others directions as well. Finally she turned to Luna. "No animals anywhere in here so it should be safe."

"The dark-bellied stinging Larcomb is a very large insect," The blonde witch replied. "It's not an animal."

"Oh," Hermione responded. She actually was tempted to argue that insects were animals but knew the spell she'd used did not detect insects. With insects being so numerous in the world, it would basically make the spell useless if it did. "Well, neither Harry nor I have ever seen one in here and you didn't see any in the memory but we'll just keep an eye out for one just in case," she finally said to Luna.

After verifying the location of the Diadem, the four teenagers started exploring the giant room to see what else might be around. It had been only a few minutes of walking through the rows of junk when a thought came to Harry. "You know, I don't understand something," He said as the four of them stopped. "Voldemort was sure he'd been the only one to discover this room, but look around...how could he think that? I mean some of this stuff has been here for hundreds of years," He picked up an old pewter plate that had been laying on table beside a bowl filled with multicolored gemstones.

"To try to guess what goes on in the mind of Voldemort is useless," Hermione replied. "Though I guess if anyone can, it would be Dumbledore. The two of them are very much alike. As much as I don't really care for chess, this is very much like it. Voldemort is the dark king, Dumbledore is the white. They each maneuver their pieces trying to achieve victory. One has never cared for any of his pieces while the other has forgotten what they are except a way to defeat Voldemort," She reached over and picked up some of the gemstones in her hands and let them trickle back into the bowl. "There's a fortune in this room," She muttered as she then reached for a long forgotten book. She noticed it had the stamp of the Hogwarts Library. She huffed. "How can anyone just leave a library book in here? Other students need them."

"Focus Hermione," Harry said as he eased the book out of her hand. "We can collect them and give them back to the library when we get a chance."

It was late afternoon when the door to the room opened. An enchanted voice called out. "Mr. Potter, Miss Granger, Mr Longbottom, Miss Lovegood?"

When the four teenagers made it to the front they found the Headmaster looking at them. "I stopped by to see if you've had any success," Dumbledore stated as he gazed around the room.

"Not yet sir," Harry lied. "But we're still looking. We cleared out an area there..." He pointed to a place where a table and chairs now stood in a cleared out area. "And found table and chairs so we can eat in here as well. We'll find it sir. We know how important it is."

"I have no doubt," Dumbledore replied. "Well I'll leave you be. I have warded the hallway outside of this room so only you four and professors can enter it."

"Thank you."

Dumbledore gave Harry a long but friendly look. Harry felt no Legilimency so he gave the Headmaster a nod. Finally Dumbledore turned left the room.

"We now have several days in here, so what should we do?" Harry asked.

"I need to look at the Vanishing Cabinet," Hermione replied. "Do we know if Kreacher was able to buy the other one?"

"I never asked Sirius," Harry replied and pulled out the mirror. Sirius let him know that Kreacher had purchased it but it wouldn't be delivered until the next day.

"How are you having it delivered?" Hermione asked. "Your house can't be seen?"

"It's Bogins," Sirius laughed. "You don't think they have customers who want things delivered to places they don't want known? They were told they'd be met down the street and to have the cabinet fully wrapped. I've told Kingsley that I am having a piece of furniture being delivered so he and Remus will even be helping me bring it in the house," He smiled. "I've explained to them that since you're coming to live here full time you need a bedroom that's yours and you'll not being sharing one with Ron. I also ordered you a new bed which will be delivered around the same time," He winked at Harry. "The best place to hide something is in plain sight."

"And no one will get suspicious when we're ready to move it to the Grangers?"

"From a teenage boy who decides he doesn't like the furniture his godfather picked out?" Sirius asked. "We'll tell everyone that it's being taken back to the store and Kreacher, along with your elves can get it to the Grangers."

"Very nice plan," Harry said.

"Thanks," Sirius replied beaming.

Harry and Hermione exchanged glances as they told each other how much Sirius had changed once he'd been included and shown his talents were needed.

The next few days passed quickly. Hermione and Luna studied the cabinet, while Neville and Harry along with the elves started organizing some of the stuff in the room. When Dumbledore stopped by the next day, they explained they thought it would be easier if they organized the room as they went. By the next day they had already accumulated twenty-eight usable brooms, six dozen chairs, several swords and other weaponry including a jewel encrusted battle axe and a matching dagger along with eight crates full of odds and ends that might be useful. After taking a nasty bite from a fanged frisbee, he and Neville had been tossing around, Harry decided to take a break and see if Madam Hooch wanted the brooms they'd found.

"What is it Mr. Potter, Mr. Longbottom?" The flying instructor asked as they came into her office carrying the brooms.

"We were cleaning out an old room..." Harry started with the agreed upon story. "And we came across these brooms. We thought we'd ask you if you could use them before we threw them away."

Madam Hooch started looking the brooms over, mentioning one thing being wrong or another. Several of them she sat aside. Those she said could definitely be used in her beginner's class. When there were only three left she gasped as she saw what she held. "This...this is an Oakshaft 79 and it's almost in perfect condition," When neither Harry nor Neville made any indication of recognition she elaborated. "This broom is a collectible, priceless. It was this type of broom that made the first broom flight across the Atlantic," She looked back down at the broom and ran her hand over the handle. "Where did you get this?"

"Just a room filled with old junk," Harry replied. "It probably belongs to the school by now."

"I...I'll make sure it's taken care of then," Madam Hooch said still gazing longingly at the broom.

Yes ma'am."

The flying instructor never even noticed when the two students left her office.

 
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