Disclaimer: I do not nor will I ever own the Harry Potter story, characters, villains, heroes and creatures. I also sadly do not make any money off this story. Trust me; my bank account cannot lie about that.
Thanks to Nancy for her help as always!
FLAMES OF BETRAYAL
"Dumbledore!" a voice yelled from the fireplace.
Dumbledore frowned and walked into his office. He had heard the floo being activated and sighed with annoyance. He didn't like being interrupted as he relaxed with a book and a small snifter of scotch in his hidden room.
"What is it, Arthur?" Dumbledore asked.
"The Minister is in a right state. Apparently three Death Eaters were portkeyed into his office," Arthur said.
"Is he all right?" Dumbledore asked with false concern. His dislike for the current Minister of Magic was barely hidden - most people put it down to the Minister's obvious incompetence. If the man died, Dumbledore would have the opportunity to place his man or woman in the position of Minister of Magic. It was something he had been thinking about for a while. Maybe he should just have Fudge killed. Arthur Weasley would make a good puppet to control the Ministry. It was something he would have to think about further.
"Yes, he's fine. He was more startled than anything. The Death Eaters were stunned and bound," Arthur explained.
Dumbledore felt a momentary stab of disappointment that the Minister was still alive, but he shrugged it off. "Who were they?" he asked.
"Lestrange, Avery, and Goyle," Arthur said with a slight smile.
"Do you know what happened?" Dumbledore asked with a slight sense of dread.
Arthur shook his head. "Not yet. Someone cast a very powerful Stunning spell on them. It's going to take a little while to wear off."
"Powerful? Do we know who did it?" Dumbledore asked.
"No, the magical signature isn't in any of the Ministry records," Arthur explained.
Dumbledore nodded with understanding, a small frown of thought creasing his forehead. "Could it be someone from another country?" he asked.
Arthur shrugged. "It could be. We don't really know right now. I don't think the Minister cares. He's taking credit for the capture of three top Death Eaters."
Dumbledore snorted in disgust. "I'm sure." The old wizard sighed heavily and said, "Let me know what comes to light would you? I'm quite curious as to who detained them."
"Of course, Albus," Arthur said. His head disappeared from the fireplace.
Dumbledore was lost in thought as he walked back to his secret room. Who was the new player? It was someone the Ministry didn't know. If this person took down three Death Eaters, maybe he should think of recruiting him for the Order. He could use someone that was powerful.
Thirty minutes later, he heard Minerva urgently calling him. "Albus! Albus, are you in here?"
Dumbledore sighed and set his book down. He walked down the stairs that led to his office, where he saw Minerva pacing in front of his desk, a slight frown on her face.
"What is it, Minerva?" he asked.
"Filch found Hermione by the gates. She was stunned and then portkeyed back. Poppy is having a little trouble getting the stunning spell off. Apparently, whoever cast the spell is quite powerful," Minerva explained.
Dumbledore's eyebrows flew up in surprise. That was twice today that someone had been stunned and portkeyed somewhere else. The head of the Order wondered if maybe it was the work of the same person. If so, why was Miss Granger stunned and portkeyed to Hogwarts? Looking at Minerva, he said, "Let's go. I'll see what I can do."
Minerva nodded, turned, and walked out of the office with Dumbledore following her.
A few minutes later, they walked into the Infirmary and headed towards the bed on which Hermione was lying. Poppy was scanning her patient, but looked up as she heard them approach.
"Headmaster, Minerva," she greeted crisply.
"Have you been able to counter the spell?" Dumbledore asked.
Poppy frowned, annoyed. "No, I haven't. Whoever cast this spell is very powerful."
"If I may?" Dumbledore inquired.
"Please, Headmaster. I think if anyone can do it, you can," Poppy said.
Dumbledore nodded, took out his wand, and pointed it at Hermione. "/Ennervate/."
There was a brief glow around Hermione then it disappeared. Dumbledore looked at her with surprise. There is quite a bit of power in the spell. Interesting/, he thought. Dumbledore frowned and cast /Ennervate with more power. The stunning spell held a moment longer before disappearing.
Hermione's eyes opened and she looked around the room warily. "Professor Dumbledore?" she wondered. "Am I at Hogwarts?"
"Yes, child, you are. Can you remember what happened?" Dumbledore asked kindly. "Can you tell me who stunned you?"
"Yes, it was ah...um...well I'm pretty sure it was," Hermione began then stopped. She looked at the Headmaster with surprise. "I can't remember," she exclaimed, shocked.
"You mean you can't remember at all?" Dumbledore asked, frustrated.
"No, its like the memory is there, but I can't access it. I don't think I've been obliviated. I just can't remember. I know it was important though," Hermione said with a frown.
Dumbledore bit back a growl of annoyance. He turned and looked at Poppy. "Can you tell me what is blocking her memory?"
Poppy took out her wand and scanned Hermione. She frowned slightly and replied, "I don't know what spell was used. The scan shows that a part of her brain is blocked, the part where her memories are stored. Whoever did this was very exact. I don't believe that anyone could unblock her memories without destroying her mind."
Dumbledore debated whether he really needed Miss Granger alive, but he needed those memories. He needed to know who the powerful Witch or Wizard was. Poppy cleared her throat, bringing him out of his thoughts. "Sorry Poppy, I was lost in thought. Try to do what you can. We need to find out what happened. I can't have people just going around stunning my future teachers, now can I?" Dumbledore said with false kindness.
"Thank you, Headmaster," Hermione replied with a smile.
"You rest now. I'll talk to you later," he said and left the infirmary. He decided that he would visit young Miss Granger tonight and use Legilimency on her. If he happened to scramble her brain, well that would be a benefit. Having such an intelligent Witch around, even if she was blind to his true nature, could be dangerous. Miss Granger saw too much. It would only be a matter of time before the nosy Witch saw something she shouldn't.
She watched from her hidden spot in the infirmary. No one ever noticed the small quivering mouse. She was glad that she had seen Filch bringing in the unconscious young woman.
From her tower vantage point, she saw Filch crossing the grounds with someone in his arms. Once she realized who it was, she knew that whatever had happened to Hermione, she didn't want Dumbledore to know about it. The Magic was whispering a warning and she heeded it.
She quickly transformed and made her way to the Infirmary. When Minerva rushed to get Dumbledore, she stunned Poppy and cast a blocking spell on Miss Granger's memories. She didn't know what happened today. She just knew that she needed to hide the memories. She prayed that she'd hid them well enough. She revived Poppy, and then transformed into her animagus form and hid as she heard the Headmaster and Minerva returning.
She was grateful for the warning that the Magic had given her. She could feel the time for the inevitable confrontation between Light and Dark drawing closer. What part the young woman in the infirmary had to play, she didn't know, but Miss Granger was needed. She sighed, a chill creeping up her spine. She knew that things in the Wizarding World were going to come to a head soon. She had Seen it.
With one last look at Miss Granger, Trelawney scurried back to her tower.
Night fell and the Infirmary was dark. The rest of the castle was quiet and the children were in bed, asleep. The shadowy figure silently made his way to the Infirmary. He opened the door carefully and walked in. He moved closer to the bed that Hermione was lying on and stared down at the sleeping Witch.
Glaring at the witch with contempt, Dumbledore entered her mind. He rummaged through her scattered memories, snorting with contempt at Miss Granger's dreams of becoming the Headmistress of Hogwarts. He wouldn't let some Mudblood become the Headmistress of Hogwarts. With the Elixir of Life that he had made from the Philosopher's Stone that he was to have destroyed in Harry's first year, he would be around for a long time. The Flamels had served their purpose, although he did miss the eyewitness accounts they provided about great Dark Lords of the past six-hundred years. He pushed past the memories of everyday life and continued to dig. Hermione moaned, a whimper of pain escaping, so Dumbledore cast a silencing spell on her. He ruthlessly dug further and deeper until he finally came to a set of memories surrounded by a barrier.
He gently touched the barrier and jumped as he felt a mind-numbing shock. With a growl, he looked the barrier over until he found a weak point. He began to chip away at it, not caring that the witch was trembling in pain. Her mouth was open in a silent scream and yet he continued to destroy the barrier, determined to get those memories regardless the consequences.
He almost yelled with joy as he broke through the barrier. He watched as Hermione followed the werewolf. He saw him confront an unknown man. The memory jumped and he saw Hermione frantically trying to bypass the spells that the Death Eaters had placed at the entrance of the alley. He frowned as Hermione stunned Bellatrix Lestrange and rushed over to check on Remus. A strange man walked into the alley and stunned Hermione. Dumbledore's face grew furious as he realized that the man was Ron Weasley. The redhead was more powerful than he had been at school. How? Ron had been an average student and Wizard while he was at Hogwarts. So why was he suddenly showing this power? Could this be the result of the Rite? Who was the mysterious man laying on the ground?
Dumbledore thought about it a moment and his eyes widened. "Sirius," he whispered coldly. The werewolf knew that Sirius was alive and that's why Remus confronted the mysterious man. Dumbledore growled angrily and Hermione convulsed on the bed with the force of his emotions. He disregarded her pain and continued sifting through her memories. He snorted with contempt as he heard Ron try to convince Hermione of his true nature. /The pathetic girl really was naÃ¯ve/, he thought with amusement as she defended him. "The betterment of the Wizarding World, my arse," he whispered, disgust written on his face.
Dumbledore frowned a moment. Something about the memories of Ron's interrogation troubled him. What was it? He sifted through the memories again and slowed them down. He looked through them more carefully before realizing that there was someone else in the alley with Ron. Who? Who was with him? Maybe it was Severus?
The Headmaster's eyes grew cold at the thought of the Potions Master. It made sense and it also explained where he had gone. Dumbledore frowned as he realized that Severus's interrogation of the house-elf was a set up. Rage built up in the Headmaster and his magic flared. Hermione began to convulse, her body trembling with pain. There was blood coming out of her nose and ears. Dumbledore quickly backed out of her mind, but before leaving it completely he was caught by a power of unknown origin.
"Your time will soon be over, Albus Dumbledore," the voice whispered softly. "Soon all will know of your misdeeds. Your true nature will be revealed and the Wizarding World will once again be free of your wrongdoings. Be warned Albus Dumbledore, this woman in under my protection."
The Magic held him tightly and caused him great pain before throwing him out of Hermione's mind completely. He took a step back and watched dazedly as Hermione's body glowed with a bright light. The blood from her nose and ears disappeared and the body stopped convulsing.
Swallowing hard at the mysterious events, he quickly left the room.
Trelawney transformed and walked over to Hermione's bed. She caressed her hair softly and said, "Now, you know. The Magic has protected you. You are still useful to her. Use the information you have received to help those you have betrayed. Know this though, you may be forgiven, but you will never know what you once had." She looked down into the pained brown-eyes and smiled gently. "There are many things that will be coming to a head soon. You will need to choose where you will be when the time comes. I left you some information in your room, behind the portrait of the roses. Read it; we will talk when I visit you again."
Hermione's eyes fluttered shut and she fell back into sleep. Her work done, Trelawney, also known as Vates, transformed into a mouse and made her way back to her tower.
She never saw the two people standing in the shadows. They hid when they saw the Headmaster standing over to Hermione's bed. They had come for a late night visit. There had been a message letting them know that Hermione was in the Infirmary, when they had arrived home from abroad. The looked at each other and nodded. They quickly left the castle and apparated back to Neville's apartment. They sat on the couch, going over what they had seen that night.
Luna looked over at Neville and said, "Things are getting strange around here. I didn't like the looks of the Headmaster. He seemed to be causing Hermione pain."
Neville nodded. "Neither did I. As for Trelawney, that too was strange. I noticed she didn't seem as flaky as normal. I'm not even sure who to talk to about this," he replied softly.
Luna murmured an agreement. "Maybe we should ask Trelawney."
"You think?" Neville asked, surprised.
"I think there is more to Trelawney than meets the eye."
Neville frowned thoughtfully before agreeing. He sighed gustily. "It's times like this that I miss Harry and Ron."
Luna laughed softly. "Then I suggest we find them," she said.
Neville looked hesitant before nodding. "Yes, let's do that. I miss my friends. I miss Harry and I think he should know that we are with him. He needs to know that we didn't betray him."
Luna looked at him sadly. "Sure, but you know we'll have to get past Ron first. We didn't exactly help him last year."
Neville sighed heavily. "I know, but he wouldn't accept our help. He wouldn't accept anyone's help."
Neville looked over at his girlfriend, a frown on his face. "We just need to know where to find them."
Luna's gaze went dreamy and her voice floated through the room softly. "He is with the Grim, the Wolf, the Snake, and the small Warrior. He is protected by his brother."
Neville looked at her, confused. He knew that Luna saw things that others didn't. She had been teased during her years at school for her strange behavior. Loony had been a cruel nickname the other students gave her. She never seemed to mind though. Neville personally thought that Luna was touched by the Magic. She saw things that only she could comprehend. Neville knew that whenever she Saw something, he needed to listen.
Now he needed to figure out who the Grim, the Wolf, the Snake, and the small Warrior were. He had the feeling that the brother was Ron, so who were the others? Where in the hell was Harry?
Hermione's eyes fluttered open and she gazed out into the darkened Infirmary. She trembled as she remembered what had happened yesterday. She remembered how she had defended the Headmaster from Ron's accusations; she had been so certain that Ron was wrong and she was right. After all, Ron hadn't been the brightest bulb at Hogwarts. She had been so secure in her knowledge that she was always right.
She choked on a sob. She remembered the pain of Dumbledore's rape -- the rape of her mind. She lay there, crying as she realized that everything she knew was gone. Her world had been torn asunder. She didn't know what to believe.
She had believed Dumbledore when he had told her that Harry was guilty of murder. She looked at the facts, not at her friendship with Harry. She had believed when Dumbledore told her that he was trying to help Ron and Harry; that he was trying to protect them. She believed him when he said he was helping the Wizarding World become a better place. She had believed anything and everything that he had said.
Putting her face into the pillow, she screamed with rage, pain, and hurt. She had believed him and everything he'd ever told her was lie. She remembered as he dug through her memories, her body convulsing in pain. She remembered as she felt his lack of concern for her welfare -- his coldness, his malice. She remembered his rage at Ron's newfound power. She remembered his hate for Ron. She remembered everything that he did to her, all the pain that he had caused her.
She also remembered the voice that she had heard in her head, the one that had thrown the Headmaster out of her mind, the one that had soothed her and healed her. It had been powerful and it surrounded her. It had allowed her to remember all that had happened. It had ripped the blinders off her eyes and it had destroyed her innocence and naivetÃ©. It had made her look outside herself to realize that there was more going on in the world than her all consuming need for knowledge.
She had destroyed friendships with her need to be the smartest person in the Wizarding World. She realized that she was never going to get Ron and Harry's friendship back. As Trelawney said, and boy wasn't that a surprise, they may forgive her, but they will never forget. Things were not going to go back to the way they were.
She needed to find a way to make it right, a way to help them. They were in danger from the Headmaster. She just needed to prove herself to them. Make them realize that she knew that they were right, that they had always been right. It made her flinch as she remembered her self-righteous attitude. She cringed as she remembered turning her back on Harry and destroying her friendship with Ron. There had been a time when they were becoming more, but that was destroyed in the wake of her betrayal of Harry.
Hermione closed her eyes and sighed. She would worry about this later. She needed to sleep, and then she would find a way to help her friends, even if they didn't care for her anymore. She would find a way to make the Headmaster pay for raping her mind and killing her innocence. Her need for knowledge was finally going to come in handy. She vowed that the Headmaster would be destroyed or she would die trying.
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