Harry and Hermione take lives for the first time.
I don't own Harry Potter.
Chapter 9 - Hunting Wild Game
GERMAN MINISTRY OF MAGIC, 21 MARCH, 2005
As Hermione rode the elevator that would take her to the German Department of Magical Law Enforcement, her thoughts wandered to all that she and Harry had accomplished in the past five years. While their careers took a few low-level jobs to gain momentum, Death's Hunters quickly became well-known amongst the criminal underworld for their speed, their efficiency, and for their ability to find you, no matter where you were. When they first started, they were chasing down bottom-tier drug dealers and robbery suspects; now, they were tracking down serial killers, drug lords and terrorists.
They also learned that the life of a mercenary was not as exclusive as they had originally believed: Often, they would have to contend with rival mercenaries chasing after the same target. Occasionally, they were all hired from the same person to ensure the target's capture, but usually they all represented separate parties, all of whom wanted the intended target for a different reason.
Hermione was jarred from her thoughts when the elevator stopped, announcing her floor. Quickly sliding into her persona of Miss Grayson, Hermione confidently stepped out of the lift and towards the desk of the department head's secretary.
"Guten tag," Hermione greeted politely, "I have an appointment with Mister Kreissman, for Miss Grayson," she continued. The secretary consulted a ledger to confirm the claim.
"One moment," she said, before rattling a long line of German into a microphone on her desk. A male voice responded in German, and the secretary looked up at Hermione. "He will see you now." Thanking her, Hermione walked into the office, where she was greeted by the head of the German Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Nicholas Kreissman, a balding man with white stubble covering his face.
"Ahh, Miss Grayson, here to collect yet another contract, I assume?" Kreissman asked in lightly accented English.
"You assume correctly, Mister Kreissman," Hermione said, reaching into her briefcase and extracting several sheets of parchment. "I believe that this should satisfy your needs,” she continued, passing them to the older man before her. He perused them briefly, and nodded in satisfaction.
"Excellent," he said, making them vanish with a wave of his wand. "I shall have my secretary transfer the payment into your vault immediately." Kreissman sighed briefly before he hardened his features. "It is both a relief and a shame that your company will be moving soon, Miss Grayson, but we have one last mission for you. However, it is slightly...different than your previous contracts." The elderly German wizard reached into his desk and pulled out a folder almost an inch thick and slid it towards Hermione. She opened it, and was greeted with the mug shot of a snarling, filthy man.
"Who are these people, and what are their crimes?" Hermione asked as she flipped through the twelve files laid in front of her.
"These...people," Kreissman said in disgust, as if considering the figures named as people were an insult, "are a clan of werewolves that call themselves the Hellhounds. They are murderous monsters: They have killed over two hundred men, women and children between them, including twenty aurors...one of whom was my son." Kreissman stopped as the bitter memories threatened to emerge. Hermione felt sympathy for the man before her, but buried it beneath her professional air.
"I am sorry for your loss, Mister Kreissman," she said, closing the folder. "But what exactly does this have to do with our contract?"
"We had captured them two months ago, and brought them to trial," Kreissman explained. "They were all found guilty and sentenced to death. However, while transporting them to Nurmengard for execution, they managed to break their shackles and escape, killing several of their guards. It was eventually discovered to be a mechanical failure, but that's beside the point; the point is, is that these monsters have been missing for two months, doing Merlin knows what, and have already been tried and convicted. All I am asking as that you simply...speed up the process a little bit." Hermione saw the underlying message that he was saying, but her face remained stoic.
"Mister Kreissman, despite what you may believe, we are not executioners, nor are we hitmen," she said, her voice maintaining a professional neutrality.
"But think about it," Kreissman tried to reason with her. "Is it not quicker and safer to simply kill them where they stand, especially since they were sentenced to die anyway? Or will you risk more innocent lives by transporting them here, alive?" Hermione sighed as she considered his proposal. On the one hand, she did not know if she could kill someone, no matter how deserving, even though the reason why she and Harry became mercenaries in the first place was so Harry could train to kill Voldemort. On the other hand, his reasoning was sound.
"If we agree to this, I trust that our names will not be mentioned in the press?" she finally asked.
"You have my word," Kreissman assured her. Hermione considered it further, tapping her fingers on the top of the folder.
"I will propose it to my superiors for consideration," she finally said, taking the folder and placing it into her briefcase. "I will return tomorrow with our decision."
"I look forward to it, then, Miss Grayson," Kreissman said, standing up and extending his hand. "Good day to you."
"And to you, Mister Kreissman," Hermione replied, taking the offered hand before turning around and exiting the office. She rode the elevator back to the Ministry Atrium before walking to the Apparating depot and Disapparating with a crack, reappearing in the house that she and Harry had rented. She heard sounds of battle coming from below, so she went down into the basement, which had been converted into a training room, to see Harry, wearing only a pair of fighting shorts, fighting simultaneously against seven training dummies.
The wooden effigies swung their flail-like arms wildly, Harry dodging the chaotic blows with the grace of a dancer. With his onyx wand in one hand and knife in the other, the former seeker proceeded to cut down his opponents with swift efficiency. In his right hand, his wand firing spells like a gun, blasting apart the training instruments as if they were insubstantial, his left hand ruthlessly slicing away at his foes, crippling them. After he had struck the last one down, Harry turned at the sound of applause to see his wife, who had since removed her wig and changed her business robes into more casual attire.
"Hey there," he said, embracing Hermione and pulling her in for a kiss. "So, what's our next mission?" Harry asked. Hermione pulled out of his arms and sighed.
"We don't have one," she said, "not yet at least." Harry frowned at his wife.
"Why, what's wrong?" he asked in concern.
"Nothing," Hermione responded, "it's just...the case Kreissman dropped on us was a bit unusual, and I told him we needed to consider it first." She opened her briefcase and handed Harry the thick folder containing the details of their potential targets. Harry quickly flipped through them.
"So what, it's just another grab and drop job, right?" he asked as he scanned the files. "What's the big deal?"
"That's the thing, it isn't just a grab and drop," Hermione said. "According to Kreissman, these people have already been tried and convicted, but escaped during transportation. He didn't ask us to apprehend these criminals; he asked us to assassinate them." Harry looked up from the files, surprised at her statement.
"Assassinate?" he asked, dumbfounded. When Hermione nodded, he set the folder down and sighed, rubbing his face with his hands. "I guess we had to get to it eventually." Harry retrieved the folder and began reading its contents more carefully, and was quickly sickened by the number and severity of the crimes committed by the people within. "I think we should do it," he said, closing the folder.
"Are you sure?" Hermione asked him.
"I'm sure," Harry assured her. "These people have already been tried and sentenced to death. We would be there already, so why not kill them there instead of risking more innocent lives by sending them back to the Ministry?" Hermione sighed and nodded her head.
"Alright, we'll do it," she said. "I've got to write up a new contract," she added.
"Alright, I guess I can assemble some of the gear," Harry said. "Is the potion ready yet?" he asked Hermione.
"Yeah, be careful with it," she confirmed. "And the targets are werewolves, so you'll need to use silver." When Harry nodded in understanding, Hermione went upstairs to fabricate a contract, while Harry went into the laboratory to assemble Hermione's latest creation.
She had brewed a potion that was relatively stable when cool, but powerfully explosive when heated to a certain temperature. A few pieces of metal and strategically timed heating runes later and they had all the materials needed to build a homemade grenade. While Hermione originally intended to cut holes into the body of the device and add another potion that would aerosolize after the explosion, creating a gas or smoke grenade, the parts that they had available were all solid; some conjured silver ball bearings were all that was needed to convert it into an anti-werewolf fragmentation grenade. Harry grabbed a doughnut-shaped tube roughly the size of a soda can and poured the bearings into the outer ring. Then, he placed the device under a spout and carefully poured a thick orange liquid into the inner tube until it almost reached the top. Taking the top of the device, he carefully screwed it on and, slipping on one of his gloves, turned it as he ran his thumb over the seam, using a small amount of magic to gently weld the device shut. Setting the completed weapon aside, Harry repeated the process until he had sixteen grenades. That should be enough, he thought as he placed them in racks that would prevent them from jostling during transportation. Hermione had assured him that casual rattling would not detonate them; however, it would be prudent to take every precaution possible just in case.
After checking to make sure that the carrying racks would fit into the pockets of their suits, Harry went to take a shower; he had just finished a workout, and he felt filthy.
"Report," Voldemort hissed to the Death Eater kneeling before him.
"Yes, my lord," the man simpered. "Our envoy has successfully convinced the clan of German werewolves known as the Hellhounds to join our cause. Their ferocity should help bolster your waning support in the country." The Death Eater paused as sweat suddenly began to break out on his brow, and his skin began to pale.
"And...?" Voldemort encouraged, sensing more to the tale than his minion had reported.
"O-only one man returned, my lord, his mind broken," the Death Eater shuddered. "After we managed to apply enough potions to make him somewhat lucid, he said that the Hellhounds devoured the rest of his team...alive." While the Death Eater tried to keep himself from vomiting all over his master's feet, the Dark Lord was fighting the urge to break out into a grin; it would certainly help to have such vicious individuals in his army, even if they were filthy sub-humans.
"Very well," Voldemort dismissed his underling. "Kill the survivor; my forces have no place for a gibbering, insane idiot." The Death Eater assured his master that it would be done before leaving the semi-human's presence.
SOMEWHERE NEAR GERMAN / CZECH BORDER - TWO WEEKS LATER
"Are you sure this is the place?" Harry asked, staring at the mouth of the cave that they were currently standing in front of, safely sequestered in Felarus' Plane so as to avoid detection.
"I'm sure," Hermione said. "The various associates that we've interrogated, and the fact that recent attacks have all originated within a few kilometers of this cave, have determined that the Hellhounds are likely hiding in this cave." They both briefly reappeared in their normal plane to plant a doorway shield along the mouth of the cave; until they ran out of power sometime the next day, no one could enter or exit the cave mouth.
Except Harry and Hermione, who reentered Felarus' Plane and patrolled the cave, searching for their targets. They eventually entered a main chamber where seven filthy men in tattered robes were sitting, all of whom they recognized as their targets. The cavern was decorated with several human skeletons, all with numerous distinct bite marks on the bones. Fighting down the bile threatening to rise from their throats, Harry and Hermione both extracted a grenade from their pockets and pulled the trigger, keeping their thumbs on the safety triggers.
"On three," Harry said softly, his partner nodding silently. "One, two, three," he counted, and the both spun around, Apparating in the cavern, dropping the grenades, and disappearing before the fugitive werewolves could react.
"What was that?" one of the werewolves snarled, waving around the wand that he had purloined from one of the dead Death Eaters that had arrived two weeks before.
One of the werewolves picked up the grenade and gave an investigative sniff. However, at that exact moment, the time-delayed heat rune sent a super-heated charge to the potion contained within, causing it to detonate, and thereby forcing two plumes of silver and aluminum shrapnel to fly within the cavern. Those within five meters were reduced to several pounds of ground meat by the cloud of silver balls ripping through their bodies. Those within twenties meters were all lying on the floor, crying out in anguish as the embedded silver bearings reacted with their bodies, causing intense pain.
The unfortunate werewolf holding the grenade when it detonated was completely vaporized.
As they witnessed the carnage take place in front of them, Hermione quickly unlatched her helmet and purged her stomach at the gory sight before her, Harry nearly joining her. After she had finished retching and replaced her helmet, they Apparated back into their native plane, and surveyed the survivors, still writhing in agony. While they held no sympathy for the murderers and cannibals before them, the two hunters could not help but feel pity for their current predicament, and whipped out their wands. One reducto to the chest, and the werewolves were driven out of their misery. They heard the sounds of approaching figures coming from deeper within the cave, and soon they were confronted with the other five Hellhounds. They stared at each other in shock for a brief moment before the werewolves began to throw killing curses at the two mercenaries, who dodged them.
"Spare one!" Hermione said as she retaliated with a flame whip spell, which shattered one of the werewolves' wands. Harry grunted in acknowledgement and fired a modified cutting curse that Hermione had invented: sectumsempra. The effect was immediate as several deep gashes appeared in his target’s body as he collapsed, blood oozing profusely from the wounds. Another had several silver arrows pierced into his chest as he failed to dodge one of Hermione's spells. The other two were cut down quickly enough, leaving the final one alive. He tried to flee, but a swift stunner to the back silenced that effort.
Hermione drew a syringe out of her pocket and removed the safety cap. After squeezing it to force out any air pockets, she pierced the unconscious werewolf in the back of the neck, injecting the liquid inside the needle. After emptying the needle, she destroyed it with a snap of her fingers and rolled the werewolf onto his back. The two hunters waited for several minutes before she revived him with a wave of her hand.
"What is your name?" Hermione asked.
"Johann Markus Vandermilt," the werewolf replied tonelessly, his face utterly devoid of emotion. Hermione smiled in delight that her invention was working; a more powerful version of veritaserum that circumvented any attempts to resist it by being injected intravenously, where it would travel to the brain and begin its effects.
"Are you guilty of the crimes levied against you by the Ministry of Magic?" Harry asked.
"Yes," Vandermilt responded.
"Do you have any prisoners in this cave?" Hermione asked their drugged captive.
"No," Vandermilt said monotonously.
"Do you have any prisoners elsewhere?" Hermione asked.
"Hey, look," Harry said, pulling up Vandermilt's sleeve, revealing the Dark Mark. "How long have you been working for Voldemort?" he asked the werewolf.
"Two weeks," the werewolf droned. Harry sighed and turned to his wife.
"Do you have anything else you want to ask him?' he asked her. When she shook her head, he turned back to the werewolf beneath them. "Thank you, Mister Vandermilt. Now, by order of the German Ministry of Magic, I hereby sentence you to death." Drawing his knife, Harry brought it down, plunging it into the lycanthrope's heart. After Vandermilt's eyes went blank and his last breath left his lips, Harry extracted his knife from the corpse's chest and cleaned the blood off. "Let's get out of here," he said, standing up.
"Agreed," Hermione replied, and they both disappeared with a crack, leaving seven rotting corpses in their wake.
The next day, Hermione sauntered back into the German Ministry of Magic in her Miss Grayson persona, holding herself with the same cool professionalism as before. After gaining an audience with department head Kreissman, she opened her briefcase.
"Our agents have successfully executed all twelve fugitives," Hermione said emotionlessly, producing a vial containing a silver substance from her briefcase and setting it down on Kreissman's desk. "This memory has been donated by one of our agents to view at your leisure. When you are satisfied with our fulfillment of our contract, you may transfer our payment to our vaults." Hermione watched as Kreissman took the memory vial and placed it in his desk.
"I cannot thank you enough for ridding the world of such evil men," Kreissman said, linking his fingers together pensively. "The German Ministry owes you a debt of gratitude."
"My superiors will keep that in mind," Hermione said as she closed her briefcase. "It has been a pleasure doing business with you, Mister Kreissman. Hopefully our service has been a relief for your forces." With a final shaking of hands, Hermione exited the German Ministry of Magic for the last time.
The Death Eater whimpered in anxious anticipation for what was to happen to him when he reported the bad news to his master. However, his punishment would be infinitely worse should he delay its delivery, so with what little courage he possessed gathered, he meekly entered Lord Voldemort's chambers.
"My lord, I'm afraid I am the bearer of bad news," he simpered, falling to his knees and kissing the hem of his master's robes.
"Speak," Voldemort hissed softly.
"It seems that the werewolves that you recruited two weeks ago, the Hellhounds, have all been slain," the Death Eater reported. "We do not know by whom, beyond the fact that the aurors did not do it." Voldemort rapped his fingers against the arm of his throne as he pondered this unfortunate turn of events.
"I see," he finally said sibilantly, reaching for his wand. "Thank you for bringing this to my attention, now crucio!"
This is the final international chapter; next chapter, Harry and Hermione return to Britain, and will remain there for the remainder of the story.
Before you get on my back about Snape inventing sectumsempra, not Hermione, remember this: They did not find out about the spell until sixth year in canon, and in this fic, they left before then, so they never found out about the Half-Blood Prince. However, if Snape could invent a spell during his school years, then I don't think it's that big a stretch that Hermione, the smartest witch of her generation, would eventually make it herself.
I hope that you enjoyed it, in all its bloody glory.
Don't forget to review.