In canon, Harry is completely clueless as to why Dumbledore refrains from training him for the inevitable battle between him and Voldemort. In this one-shot, Harry forms is own guess why. While not exactly right, It is much more effective.
Hermione turned in her chair to see Harry walking towards her usual table in the library, looking as if he had fought a great war. What confused her was the grin on his face. He passed Madame Pince, who seemed too shocked for words.
“Hello, Hermione,” he said cheerily as he plopped down before her.
“Hi, Harry,” she said absently, then stared at him suspiciously. “What have you done?”
“Do I always look like I’ve done something bad?”
She stared at him.
“You know me well.”
“Obviously. What have you done?”
“Nothing much…just snuck out of Hogwarts to visit Macnar, that’s all.”
“You killed another Death Eater, didn’t you?”
“I wouldn’t like to think of it as ‘killing’ someone.”
“What would you call it, then?”
“A casualty of war.”
“Harry! You just can’t keep killing people like this.”
Harry corrected her. “They’re not people; they’re Death Eaters. They kill people, so I should return the favor. And besides, Dumbledore told me that I could.”
“Pardon?” Hermione could not believe her ears.
“He didn’t say it directly…you know that he keeps giving us riddles to solve, right?”
“How could you figure out that Dumbledore wants you to kill?”
“There were a couple of clues. Do you want me to explain them, or to tell you what he did?”
“I would rather you tell me the latter.” Hermione wanted to think for herself why Harry had come to that conclusion.
“Firstly, Dumbledore told me that we were going to train, but he hasn’t shown me a new spell or anything about magic at all. Instead, he showed me memories of Tom’s childhood and his beginnings.”
“You must know your enemy before you defeat them,” Hermione interjected.
“That’s what I originally thought. But as we went on with it, I found out that Tom had similar beginnings as I did. And he eventually became a Dark Lord. So I was thinking…”
“Harry James Potter, if you’re saying that you’re turning into a Dark Lord, I swear I’ll hex – nay, curse – some sense into you.”
“I’m not, I promise. Quite the opposite, really. I’m turning into a Light Lord.”
“A Light Lord?”
“Basically. I don’t plan on following Dumbledore’s footsteps, though. Nor Voldemort’s. I guess you could say I’m following my own. I don’t want anyone else to get killed, but I’m very willing to kill those who kills.”
“But it’s still wrong!”
“Either that, or Dumbledore’s trying to avoid training me for some reason. One of them has to be the reason, and I’m sure that the one that I chose is the right one. I highly doubt that Dumbledore wants me to die.”
Harry sighed as he realized that Hermione was firm in her beliefs. “Let me explain it this way: A little muggle girl is being approached from behind by a Death Eater, and you are meters away, out of his sight, with a wand in hand. Do you run for help, knowing full-well that the man has a portkey to get out of there with the little girl, do you run to protect the girl, facing the chance of you taking the same fate as that girl, do you stall the man to let the girl run away, possibly pissing him off enough to touch the Dark Mark, giving you the chance to face several Death Eaters and Voldemort?”
He paused to let Hermione digest this information. “Or would you use that clear shot to make sure that he never approaches anyone again with the intent of harm?”
For the first time, Hermione was speechless. Harry did put up a really good point that she could not fault.
“I’m sure you would choose the last choice,” Harry said with a grim smile. “Bellatrix killed Sirius, so I killed her, because I have no doubt that she wouldn’t hesitate to kill again. Same for Peter, no matter how cowardly he is. I figure that if you have the Mark of a Death Eater, you have the mark of death. No exceptions. No matter how young.”
Hermione caught on to what Harry said. “Harry, Draco is too young—”
“Which is why Voldemort gave him the Mark. People will suspect it but discard the idea because of the simple fact that he’s too young. I just used a simple ‘Diffindo’ on his arm sleeve on my way here in the crowded hallways. He has the mark. Rumors are spreading already. He just might go to Azkaban and it’s not even Christmas yet!”
Hermione, once again, was unable to talk. She shook her head sadly. She was wrong about something. And it was apparently a huge mistake. That feeling did not sit well with her.
“Don’t feel bad,” Harry comforted her. “You didn’t know. I didn’t know for a fact. It’s just like…a hypothesis, really. You just never tried to prove it. Now, it has been.”
“I’m sorry for not believing you,” Hermione said to him, seemingly not hearing what Harry said. “I guess I should start believing you from now on.”
“No; we should start proving our statements. We should believe each other, and find out a way to prove if either of us is right. For instance, if you said that I was wearing boxers, not briefs, then I would have to prove your hypothesis.” Harry just realized what he said and blushed. “Sorry, bad example.”
Hermione waved it off, a blush staining her cheeks. “It’s okay. I see what you mean. If you said that I was wearing a bra, you’d have to prove it as well.”
Harry raised his eyebrow at Hermione, wondering if she meant she’d have to prove it. Deciding to play along, he said, “As much as I would love to delve into the ‘experiment’ and discover the wonders of science, I don’t have time right now. I have to go and get your Christmas present.”
“Harry, it’s still November.”
“I know, but I can’t wait any longer. It’s a really good one. I think I outdid myself.”
“Harry…” Hermione began in a warning tone.
“Don’t worry, it’s not expensive at all.” He seemed to be in thought for a moment. “Would you like to go out with me?” He asked her, and his eyes widened with the way he said it.
Hermione also looked quite shocked. Harry seemed to have quite the gift today of making her speechless. A naughty part of her brain figured that if he had just asked her out, he would have more chances in the future. “Harry…?”
“Sorry for the way that came out,” Harry said hurriedly. “I just want to take you see your present.” He then looked thoughtful for a moment. “I’m guessing it will have to be an over-night trip. I guess it would count as a date.”
“It’s a date then,” Hermione said with an inward smile. What she didn’t know was that she was also smiling outwardly.
“Great,” Harry said with a little too much enthusiasm. He stood up. “I need to go change my clothes. I’m pretty sure I smell like a dead animal.”
“You do,” Hermione admonished, returning to her normal self.
“I suggest you bring your wand, too. In case something goes wrong.”
“What will go wrong?” Hermione asked him, curious. “You’re not going to kill a Death Eater in the middle of our date, aren’t you?”
Harry looked at her incredulously. “Gods, no! Cho doesn’t even speak to me anymore, and all I did was cut it short.”
“Then why do I have to bring my wand?” Hermione asked him suspiciously.
“Because I’m killing a Death Eater at the end of our date.”
“What? You’ll love it?”
“Why would I ever love to see you kill someone?!”
“Because it’s Dolohov…”
Hermione’s retort was cut short by the name. She was quiet for almost thirty seconds, before she absently traced the small scar in the middle of her chest.
“Harry,” she whispered, her eyes glistening with unshed tears, “that is… the best present I’ve ever gotten.”
“Only for you,” Harry said to her with a smile, then walked out of the library, preparing to find the twins for a tear-gas bomb.
Hermione smiled at his retreating back and walked towards one of the shelves. She had to learn some new spells. Surely Harry would give her time to spend with her Christmas present. She wondered if he would let her borrow that stupid Potions book?
After a moment, she realized that Harry would need a Christmas present also. Perhaps he needed a new girlfriend?
She should experiment…she did have that new dress…