Title: Brave New World
Fandom: Harry Potter
Word count: ~1,500 (chapter)
Chapter: Prev | Next
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or any related characters. Making no money here, as they all still belong to their prospective owners.
Summary: Partially DH compliant, most AU. Voldemort arrived at Malfoy Manor quicker than expected, and like that, the war was over. Now, Hermione is Snape's "assigned companion," and as determined as ever to stop Voldemort and save her friends. But that's hard to do in Voldemort's new world…
Chapter Ten: A Plan, at Last
Hermione arrived at the newest meeting spot, a huge empty field with a small knoll at the edge of it. It was somewhere on the outskirts of what she knew to be near where the Weasleys lived. Neville, Ron, Ginny, and a few others had already arrived, gathered at the crest of the windblown hill just a few paces from where she stood. She trudged up to the top, and found herself pleased to see that more of the Weasleys had attended, the twins as well as Bill, and that Lee Jordan had arrived. She had not been listening very much to the radio, part of the isolation Snape kept her in, so she had no idea if Potterwatch was still playing. But, she doubted it.
She smiled and hugged Lee a bit, greeting Bill, Fred, and George with hugs as well. She stepped back from her friends, feeling happier than she had in a very long time. Ginny was practically bouncing, she noticed, and Hermione narrowed a gaze at her.
"Are you gonna tell her?" she asked, aiming the question at Bill.
He grinned sheepishly, still ruggedly handsome despite the scarring left by Greyback. He looked over at Hermione, shrugging in an awkward way—something she had never thought of Bill.
"Fleur's pregnant. We're going to have a baby," he said, the joy almost radiating from him despite his obvious efforts at keeping it contained.
Hermione beamed. "Oh, that's wonderful!"
"What?" she asked, noticing the way Bill kept avoiding everyone's eyes.
"He's worried," Ron explained.
"With good reason, though," Ginny added.
Hermione pursed her lips. "Anything particular, or just the general state of the world?"
A cloud moved from out of in front of the moon, and things Hermione had once thought to be shadows revealed themselves in their true forms. Ginny's right eye was slightly swollen and turning the purplish-black of a bruise. Ron looked as if he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Circles were deep under his eyes, and he looked on the verge of collapsing from either exhaustion or… something else Hermione couldn't quite put her finger on. The joy of Bill's good news had momentarily made her forget why she was here, but now it all came crashing down upon her.
"Rumor has it that there's going to be a Mudblood Breeding Law passed soon," Ginny said, which garnered the attention of Neville, who had been gathering the rest of the resistance members.
"Did you get that from Malfoy?" he asked.
Ginny nodded. Hermione shook her head. A steely resolve seemed to descend over the group. Ginny and Ron were being forced to marry people they hated, and now Bill's unborn child might be in danger. And then, the ever present metaphorical elephant in the metaphorical room: Harry, caged like an animal. Something had to be done.
Neville had moved on, letting people know that he still had the coins from Dumbledore's army. He gathered them all while Hogwarts had still been in session, and he passed them around to the members now. Hermione smiled sadly as he pressed the coin in her hand. She had no idea where her original coin was now. But it did make her happy that they seemed to be forming a new Dumbledore's Army to fight Voldemort and his Death Eaters.
"We could call ourselves the New Order of the—" she began to murmur to Ginny, who hushed her quickly.
"Voldemort's name is no longer Taboo, but that title… that is," she explained.
And it did explain a lot. She nodded. When Neville completed handing out the coins, he explained that his was the new master coin, and that he would use this method to communicate with them from now on. He grinned at Hermione, holding the coin up so that it glinted in the moonlight.
"I've been practicing. All thanks to your original idea," he said.
She laughed. "Knew you could do it."
"Now," Neville said, clearing his throat and addressing the group at large. "We've not been able to do much. I've established a safe house for myself, and a few others that are considered wanted criminals. If you ever find yourself in need of it, use your coin. I've put an extra charm on it that will lead you to the safe house."
"How?" George asked.
"Just tell it what you need."
The twins exchanged a look, but said nothing else. Neville really had been practicing.
"As a whole, I'll be honest, we haven't done much. I've gotten a few half-bloods and muggle-borns to safety. But with Voldemort in charge of both the Ministry and the school, and not to mention the patrols he's got stationed just about everywhere of note, we've been very stunted in developments and in moving forward. I know that rescuing Harry is a priority… and one we didn't discuss at our last gathering. But Malfoy Manor is Voldemort's base. It's much too protected. Honestly, I could use some news. Something we could use to decide what to do next."
"Whatever it is we end up doing, it'll have to be quick," Hermione said.
Once again, she felt all eyes turn toward her. She stood a little straighter and continued.
"Voldemort came to visit Snape today. He shared with him his plans for the further usage of half-bloods and muggle-borns," she said.
From there, she launched into the full story, leaving out nothing save for Snape's total involvement. There were many members of this group—well, honestly, all of them—that would possibly discount what she was saying if they knew it came directly from Snape, rather than just her overhearing it from him. When she finished, they were shaking their heads, and all looked just about as sick as she had when she first heard it.
"More slaves. Innocent kids coming from their homes, never to return and never to live their lives as the witches and wizards they're supposed to be," Ginny sighed. "We have to stop it."
"How?" Ron asked. "That's a lot of kids. How do we even stop it?"
"We need to find a way to contact the kids who would just now be getting their letters. I know that Dad's said that the Ministry has put a stop to them, those who aren't purebloods, but they'll probably start them back up now that Voldemort's got this plan of his," Fred pointed out.
"That's a lot of letters to kids we don't know," Jordan said, frowning.
"Hogwarts: A History!" Hermione belted suddenly.
Everyone looked at her like she was stroking, except for Ron, who was rolling his eyes. She shook her head.
"No, you don't understand. In the book, it explained that there's a magical quill and parchment that writes down the names of all the children that will be receiving letters on their eleventh birthdays, as they're born. It's kept at Hogwarts. It's in one of the smaller towers. All we'd have to do is get the Quill and the Book of Admittance!"
"Hermione! You're a genius!" Neville said.
"But… someone will have to break into Hogwarts… that's easier said than done," Ginny lamented.
"I can do it," Neville said.
Now, all eyes fell to him. He shrugged.
"It's not that I don't trust all of you, but I have ways inside the castle. That's all. I'd rather not say how."
Hermione understood. She may not have talked under Bellatrix's torture, but some others might, no matter how brave or strong they were. Especially if a loved one was threatened. Better not to put all the eggs in one basket, so to speak.
"Isn't the school being guarded by Death Eaters?" Ron asked.
"The Carrows. They do rounds. All I have to do is figure out their rotation, and we're all good."
"And… you're going alone?" one of the younger witches at the meeting asked. Hermione felt bad, but she did not know her name.
"I'd rather not risk a large group," Neville said.
"Makes sense," Hermione reasoned.
There was a moment of silence while all considered it. Finally, Ron nodded.
"Okay. I'll keep an ear open, see if Pansy knows anything about the school that we don't."
"Same with Draco," Ginny added.
Hermione couldn't help but feel a little uneasy that they had both used their would-be spouses' first names. She was sure that that had rarely, if ever, happened while they all had all at school together. But she said nothing of it. Instead, the meeting concluded, all feeling a little bit better about where they stood in the battle against Voldemort than they had when they arrived. The Weasleys' and Hermione were the last to leave, wishing each other luck and safety. Only when absolutely no one was left on the hilltop did she apparate to Snape's home.
She made her way to the front door, noticing that lights were still on. She crept inside as quietly as she could, but she saw no sign of Snape waiting for her. She sighed and scurried up the stairs. She shut the door to her bedroom behind her, happy that Voldemort had no idea what was coming to him… however small the action.