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Chapter 2::
The Task

Dumbledore had a feeling. It was one that he’d had once before, one that led him to the Potter house the night they were killed. The only difference is that this time it sent him to the home of Hermione Granger. As he apparated into the sitting room, he looked around him as sadness and worry chorused through him. There he saw the bodies of Phillip and Jane Granger. It was obvious they were killed by a knife—a big one. Albus Dumbledore had seen a lot in his day; but this was the one thing that he could not bear and had to turn away from.

As he did, he heard a noise. At first he thought it was from one of those muggle contraptions. (A radio, I believe?) Then, as he walked towards the noise, he noticed it was a soft voice… and that it was coming from behind the couch in the corner of the room. It didn’t take him long to find Hermione, sitting behind the couch, arms wrapped across her legs, mumbling incoherently to herself. Albus was horrified to discover that such a young girl had seen the sight that he himself could not look at again. From the look in her eyes, the old headmaster could see that she had escaped into the folds of her mind at the horrific sight.

“Hermione, dear? Miss Granger, it’s Professor Dumbledore. Can you hear me?” When he got no response, he kneeled and grabbed her hand—it was ice cold, “I’m going to apparate you back to Hogwarts, alright?” Still no response.

Within seconds, they were in the Headmaster’s office. Not wanting Hermione to collapse onto the floor, Albus summoned a couch and allowed her to fall onto the cushions. As soon as he had Hermione tucked into the couch, he walked into the back room of his office and flooed for McGonagall. As usual, it took her but seconds to reply and he relayed everything to her. The old woman’s face was shocked and tears filled her usually stern eyes. As the story drew to a close, McGonagall appeared into the room and looked around desperately for her favorite pupil.

“What are we going to do now, Albus?” Her voice was oddly shaken.

Sadness filled his eyes and he suddenly looked every bit of his age. He had no answers to this question. Never in his life had he been put in such a situation. “Well, Minerva. Right now, all we can do is be there for her and help her come out of it. But, I fear that will be a long time coming.”

Hermione couldn’t stop seeing the image of her parents, their mangled bodies sitting in their own blood. She was vaguely aware of Dumbledore, McGonagall, and now Madame Pomphrey talking to her, begging her to come back. She wanted to. She just didn’t know how. She’d have to get past the memory. It was so terrifying and real that she couldn’t stop it. She had seen enough death in both the wizarding world and the muggle world to know that the bloody deaths that consumed her parents were not from a magical being. It was rather from a muggle… no wizard would go to that much trouble.

It felt like days passed as she stayed locked in her mind. Every day got worse and the memories became more abstract; more vivid. To her, it seemed like she was out of her body—like she was a ghost watching from above. There, she could see herself in the corner. She could see herself mumbling unknown words staring at the bloody mess. Flying closer, Hermione tried to make out the words that she herself was saying. At that moment, when she was seeing her parents, she was so distraught she didn’t even know what words were forming on her white lips.

Seconds passed before Hermione finally understood the spoken words. They were rushed and hard to recognize. Their meanings were even more of a mystery; even to her.

“Not my fault, never here. Not my fault, never here. Not my fault, never here.”

The fright of those words, those that made no sense to her, shook her out of her catatonic state—making her awake from her nightmare. At first, she didn’t know where she was and panic began to seize her soul. Her vision was blurry through tears and all she saw were spots of color. The colors began to change and began advancing on her, getting closer. In a panic, she jumped up and prepared to fight—or possibly beg and cry. One of the subjects grabbed her and began speaking.

“Miss Granger! Hermione, it’s Professor McGonagall. You’re fine, dear, calm down!” The old woman’s voice was exhausted from the exertion of trying to hold the panicked girl.

Blinking rapidly, Hermione began to recognize the voices that surrounded her. They twitched somewhere in her memory and brought new images to her eyes. These images were pleasant and familiar. They were of her in class, taking notes, and listening to an old teacher. Professor McGonagall in Transfiguration Class. Despite this knowing memory, she couldn’t stop her instinct of survival. So, with panic lessening in her heart, she still clawed and cried.

“Poppy! Get a calming potion!” This voice was male and obviously tired.

“Already ahead of you! Quickly, open her mouth!” Another woman spoke, this one high pitched and worried.

Hermione felt fingers pulling her jaw down and then the cool taste of chocolate on her tongue. The moment she swallowed the cool liquid, a calm began to overtake her body. Soon enough, she stopped fighting and became limp in the old woman’s arms; her tears stopped flowing as well. She began to blink rapidly in an attempt to clear her vision. As the moisture in her eyes cleared away, she saw who were with her in the room. McGonagall was standing right next to her, holding her hand. Dumbledore stood a few feet from her, holding a wet washcloth. Directly in front of her, with a potion bottle in one hand, was the Healer, Madame Pomphrey.

Hermione began to feel sheepish and exhausted. She spent all of her energy fighting people that she trusts with her life. How silly could she get? Honestly! Her legs started to give and caused her to fall back onto a large and comfortable sofa. The calming potion made her nerves relax and her tight muscles feel like jello. It was a pleasant feeling and one that she had not felt recently.

“Miss Granger, are you feeling alright now?” McGonagall lightly released her hand and kneeled in front of her.

Opening her mouth, her words came out small and slightly strangled, “No. I saw… I saw… my mum and dad.”

Tears brimmed in the old witch’s eyes. Dumbledore walked over to her and sank into the couch beside her. “Yes. I know. I brought you here the moment I got there. I, myself, have never seen such a sight before.”

“No child should have seen that either.” McGonagall rose and began to pace.

“I’m no child.” Hermione’s words were firm and strong—also unexpected.

The adults remained quiet for an imaginable time. A few moments later, though, Dumbledore told her the best news she’d heard in her life. “The monster that killed your parents was found. Apparently, he went to your house to rob it and found your parents home. After fleeing the scene, he was hit by a car and died at the scene.”

At first, Hermione was silent. I mean, what could she possibly say? Though, as the news sank in, she found herself laughing. It wasn’t a pleasant laugh; it was one that was dry and full of pain. It shook her body and brought tears to her eyes. It didn’t take long before the laughter gave away to sobbing. Her tears fell over and her body ached and screamed as she fell into hysterics.

Minerva was there and held her as she cried. The smell of the familiar woman kept Hermione in her right state of mind and allowed her to hang onto her sanity. Desperation swept through her to cling onto her right mind set. She didn’t want to fall back into the dream world where she kept seeing her parents’ ultimate demise. The sight was hiding in the back of her mind and Hermione was desperate to keep it there. No matter what it took, it was never going to resurface.

But, for now, she cried. 

“Professor?” Hermione mumbled as she stood next to the great desk in the Headmaster’s office.

It has been four weeks since the horrific night Hermione found her parents and in those four weeks she spent her time with McGonagall, talking about her feelings and trying to get passed them. She likes to think that she made progress. Granted, she knew it wasn’t as much as she liked, but it was still progress. Her crying has been reduced to a few tears here and there and she can officially be around people without flinching every few minutes. But, none of this is why she now stood in the Headmaster’s office. Recently, she had heard the professors discussing a plan of attack. One that she was certain included her. Now, she wanted to know what it was and she would demand to know it if necessary.

Dumbledore looked up from the parchment he was reading and smiled at her determined expression. “Yes, Miss Granger?”

One deep breath later, “I know that you and Professor McGonagall have been discussing me and a plan that could help us win the war. I’ve heard my name mentioned when you all think that I am asleep and I demand to know what it is.” There, she said it.

Dumbledore looked slightly shocked at her knowledge—and he was. It is true that he and Minerva have been talking about Hermione being a spy, but they would never proposition her about it. It would too difficult and far too painful for her to do it in her present state. He would never harm one of his favorite pupil’s to do anything.

“Miss Granger, we were just discussing and we will not ask you to do any of what we said. It would be much too painful for you, my dear.”

Hermione had a general idea that he would say that. However, he didn’t understand. “Professor, you can’t seem to understand what I am saying. I need to do something. I can’t just go back to my life the way it was. What happened… with my parents… it changed me dramatically. I need to do something that will not only help the Order but will also help me.”

The twinkle in his eyes became prominent as he looked at her. She was so wonderful and so full of life. He knew she could complete the task but he didn’t believe she could deal with the details. However, she wanted to know what they were discussing. He would tell her but not ask her to do it. It will be her decision.

“Very well,” With a wave of his hand, a chair appeared in front of Hermione and her beckoned her to take a seat.

The moment she was situated, her leaned forward and began. “Minerva and I have been throwing around an idea. One that could help us out in end—help us end the war. What I am about to tell you is going to sound cruel and possibly painful for you. Do you understand that?”
She nodded. She, too, expected this.

He continued, “I thought about us using your parents death to our advantage. I have not yet released the news of your parents to the world, so we are the only ones who know. I thought up the possibility of releasing the news. However, in addition, I would release that you, too, had died in the attack.”

Hermione’s eyes widened and her breathing increased. However, she was not don’t listening, “Go on.”

“If we were to tell the world that you had died, you could assume a new identity; an identity that could start you off as a new student here at Hogwarts. We could have the Sorting Hat place you in Slytherin and you could become a spy for us. We already have a spy in Voldemort’s ranks, but we do not fully know if we trust him or not. What you could do is befriend the young followers. If you could manage to become close enough to them, you could give us answers and tell us if they are planning any attacks.”

He stopped, allowing Hermione to process the information. As soon as he saw that she was not about to faint he added the last detail, “We were hoping that, if you agreed to this, you would become a Death Eater and gather your information through Draco Malfoy, Blaise Zambini, Gregory Goyle, or Vincent Crabbe. You do not have to become… close or even date them, my dear. We believe that their families are the closest to Voldemort. They are our best bet.”

Hermione nodded her head. This wasn’t what she expected, but she didn’t let it shake her up too bad. This was possibly the one thing that could help her be useful. However, she knew the painful parts already. “Harry, Ron, Ginny, the Weasleys, the Order… they’ll all believe I am dead… won’t they?”

Dumbledore nodded his head and sadness filled his eyes, “Only McGonagall, Pomphrey, and I would know. Minerva and I would be your secret keepers.”

Nodding her head again, Hermione said the one thing Dumbledore thought she would never say. “I’ll do it. Where do we start?”

((Don’t hate me. Please review!))

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