Okay, this is my first Harry Potter story so please be kind. This is the most research I've ever done for a story, and I want it to be decent.

If something isn't right, a timeline or characters don't seem like themselves let me know. Thanks.

Fighting Monsters

Chapter One: The Abyss

"Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster... for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you."

― Friedrich Nietzsche

A petite hand moved with trepidation, dark brown brows narrowing, as they glided across the scratchy material of the wrapped package. The familiar black owl had dropped it off during her breakfast in the great hall, its' beady, blood lustful, eyes peering at her expectantly. She sucked in a breath, recognizing who the creature belonged to before snatching the heavy gift and exiting the hall.

She could feel the owl watching her as she made a beeline for the library, her only sanctuary for peace.

"What is it now?" The sixth year whispered to herself, locating to a quiet section in the stuffy room.

Breakfast was being served, so she didn't have to worry about anyone disturbing her. She knew Harry and Ron would save her something, not even fretting her absence. They would assume she's studying for their upcoming N.E.W.T's next year.

But who has time to study when a war is coming.

Or when said war leader is sending you mysterious presents.

Hermione shook her head. It wouldn't be the first time, and she feared it wouldn't be the last either. Thinking back to the books on potions her first year, a map with secret passages within Hogwarts her third year, and an Expelliarmus spell book she's shamed to admit came in handy a few times.

She wasted little time tearing the light brown paper wrapping off what appeared to be a dark purple book. It seemed like he wanted her to start considering something else.

"No," The seventeen-year-old whispered, dread filling her as she pulled away as if burned by the book glaring back at her.

The Dark Arts.

The long-haired-teen swallowed a lump in her throat, she couldn't keep denying the pull she felt. The desire to unleash her stored up magic she had been keeping at bay. Each time a Slytherin would taunt or hex her, the desire to show them what she could really do grew stronger. But she had to restrain herself.

She wouldn't be like him. She didn't want to be a monster.

"Well, well, what do we have here," A shrill, yet powerful, voice became known. "What are you doing here muddy?" The teasing, almost endearing, tone caused a shiver to travel up her spine.

A chill or hex of some sort always accompanied shortly after whenever Bellatrix was in her presence. "…it's the library, I don't need a reason to be here. That's the thing with being a know it all," Hermione leaned her right hand on the desk, trying to hide her book with her long black robes, looking anywhere but the witch.

She didn't need this right now. Why couldn't any other person walk in on her, why did it have to be the one person she couldn't stand.

"Don't get smart with me, Granger," Bellatrix hissed, the swift move to grab her wand caught the Gryffindor's eyes, before she lifted her brown orbs to pitch black.

She silently cursed herself for making the mistake, those gleefully devious eyes always kept her trapped as if in a trance. "…" Hermione managed to clear her throat, blinking once before giving the witch a once over.

The notorious Black stood with the pride of a pure blood, chin held high as she looked down at Hermione as if she were a speck on her shoe. She had forgone her robe, showing off her ghastly green house colors, and a crooked tie Hermione itched to straighten. When her eyes traveled back up, she froze as she were met with those taunting black eyes once more.

Bellatrix raised an eyebrow, amusement written all over her face, as she tossed aside her thick curly locks. They had a mind of their own, unruly, and wild, just like the witch.

"Honestly, I don't know what you expect me to say," She huffed, trying to cool her face down, while keeping her eyes above Bella's neck. "Everyone knows I practically live here." Hermione tried to lead the conversation, not needing a confrontation with her rival today.

Black eyes darkened, knowing a lead towards dismissal anywhere. "Yes, you'd marry these books if you could, you'll probably have to, no suitors lined up for such filth,"

Hermione bit her tongue, withholding a response to the insult. Bellatrix must have seen a spark in her eyes, because she responded with her signature cackle and a quick lick of her ruby lips. Wand twirling as she prepared for a fight.

She and Bellatrix had a strange relationship. Both being named the brightest witches of their ages gave way for a lot of competition and trying to best each other in everything. The devious witch never saw her as a threat until sometime during their fourth year when Bellatrix hit her with a hex from behind as she were walking in the empty halls.

She remembered crashing to the floor in agony, books falling around her as the witch laughed gleefully; twirling her wand as she looked down at her prey. As she prepared for another hit.

Hermione had already been in a rotten mood from Ron's obliviousness about the Yule Ball, so her temper was shorter than usual. The loud laughing only managed to egg her on followed by a whisper of something dark, tempting her. In a moment of weakness, and intense emotion, Hermione whipped around, her gaze filled with fire; she had seen Bellatrix freeze in her laughing, terrified at the look and somewhat thrilled.

Everything seemed to be going in slow motion as Hermione reached her wand with lightening speed to send a stinging jinx, knocking a still frozen Bellatrix off her feet. The muggle born realized her mistake, dropping her wand in shame for stooping to such a level before she crawled over to make sure the witch was okay.

She was rewarded with a swift shove, before the witch climbed over her, wand pointed at her throat. Bellatrix threatened her not to tell anyone about her slip before walking away, an interesting flush on her cheeks.

Ever since, her rival always seemed to try to coax the same response from her.

"I was just trying to get some peace, and quiet," Hermione tried again once her temper was controlled. "…I have class soon," She lied easily, trying to end the confrontation without another battle. "Should get going,"

Bellatrix waltzed closer, arms drawn behind her back as her heels clacked on the floor. "I think you're hiding something," She raised her voice, gaining a weary look from the Liberian; trouble as seemed to follow when these two were together. "You know how much I hate secrets,"

Hermione barely managed to whisper a quick Evanesco, before the witch shoved her aside only to reveal an empty desktop. "…" She crossed her arms as the dark-haired witch turned around to face her. "No need to shove," She replied shakily, licking her lips as Bellatrix looked her over closely.

"Hermione, I was looking for you—" The words fell short, hesitating. "Bella,"

Bella didn't look away from brown eyes as she huffed. "Why are you looking for her, Andy," It wasn't a question, more like a demand for answers.

"…that's kind of my business, so," Andy crossed her arms, her snarky reply gaining a snort from Hermione and a glare from her sister. "She's helping me with potions," She supplied, after the death look from her sister didn't cease.

Bella huffed, childishly crossing her arms. "I'm a master at potions, why not just ask me?"

"Have you met yourself?" Hermione mumbled, looking at something interesting on the ceiling when Bella snarled in her direction.

Andy shrugged, stilling giggling from the bushy-haired-girl's response. "You're busy with quidditch so I didn't want to bother you,"

"Hmm," Bella seemed to accept the answer for now. "Fine. I'm off to harass some first years," She glanced at Hermione once more. "We're not finished mud-cup, and if my sister doesn't pass with excellence you'll have to face me," Was all she said before breezing out of the room with ease.

Andy smacked her on the arm as she stared a little too long at Bella's retreating backside. "Gross, that's my sister,"

"I wasn't—"

"Please," Andy rolled her eyes, sitting on the desk beside the elder. "There's so much sexual tension between you two,"

Hermione choked on her spit. "Wha—no, there isn't! She hates me, and as I her," It had started that way at least, the lines had blurred from enemies to somewhat acquaintances along the years.

"You two have pet names for bloody sake," When Hermione went to argue, Andy teased in a voice imitating her sister; voice sounding breathless. "We're not finished mud-cup—"

Hermione's face burned. "N-no, it's not like that at all! She was mocking me,"

"Yet whenever she uses those slurs to refer to you, you swoon," Andy ended, a smug look on her face. "…you should give her a pet-name,"

Hermione groaned, her face couldn't take much more blushing. "Please stop talking,"

"Fine, you've suffered enough," Andy smiled, pointing behind her where the potions books were located. "Let me just get a few books so we can head to the lab and get working. I really appreciate you helping me by the way,"

The sixth year shrugged, she didn't mind the tolerable Black sister's company; enjoyed it even. "Sure thing," She ran a hand through her thick hair, watching her friend prance through the isle before she turned back to the blank desk.

With the wave of a hand, the dark arts book revealed itself once more. She bit her lower lip, contemplating her options as she shoved the gift in her bag just in time for Andy to return. Hermione followed behind the teen as they headed for an empty classroom to practice potions.

All the way there, the book tempted her.

"Mione," A hand waved in front of her face, causing her to jump back. "Hey, are you, all right?"

She nodded, rubbing her eyes tiredly. "Fine,"

Harry frowned, leaning on his elbows as he looked her over, concerned. "Are you sure? You weren't at breakfast, I would have saved you something, but I barely had time myself. Dumbledore wanted to meet with me," He trailed off as something caught his eye and he looked over his friend's shoulder, swallowing.

Hermione lazily followed his gaze, groaning when she saw Bellatrix taunting Harry about losing the quidditch match tonight. Harry shivered as the witch made a cut-throat motion, before looking away shakily.

On her part, she received a taunting wink from the witch before she turned to face the front. "…don't let her get to you," She tried to take her own advice, but couldn't stop the flush from rising to her cheeks.

"You're not the one who gets knocked out by her every game," He huffs, snatching his pen up to twirl it around. "Why does it always have to be me?"

She snickered. "You are a huge threat, she'd be crazy not to knock you out,"

"…hmm," Harry leaned his face into his palm, feeling comfortable to breach the surface with his real questions. "Where were you this morning?"

"Library," Hermione sighed, the weight of the book in her bag hitting her once more. "I had to help Andy with potions work,"

Harry whispered. "…the only Black I can stand, honestly," Before she could respond, he looked over at her once more. "I need to talk to you and Ron about something, maybe after the game?"

Hermione frowned, she had to meet someone, so she wouldn't be at the game; but so much will be going on, they won't miss her. "Please don't tell me this has to do with your mental theory?"

"It's not mental, I have a strong feeling about this," He defended himself.

Ever since they returned for the school year, Harry has been convinced Narcissa Black has been inducted into the death eater club. He argued it because she seemed to be sneaking off a lot, and whenever trouble occurs she's there. But Hermione doubts it; Narcissa is the weakest link of all three sisters. Always running to her older sister when in trouble, and cowering behind her Slytherin minions whenever her foes approach her directly.

If anything, Hermione would put her money on Bellatrix being the one chosen to follow the dark lord.

It seemed fitting. Her bloodlust for reckoning havoc.

"If it means this much to you," Hermione said after a few minutes, she sighed. "Of course, we can meet in the dorms," She should have enough time to meet them after the game, and still finish what she needs to accomplish. "…where's Ron?" It had been too long since he aggravated her, causing her to notice his absence.

Not that she minded.

"A little tied up," Harry motioned to Ron who was paired up with a dopey Lavender glancing his way every few seconds. "…she came unexpectedly," Harry whispered, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder, sympathetic.

Hermione faked a look of sorrow, rubbing her eye for effect. "Oh, yeah, I'm fine," She didn't get around to telling her best-friend she'd gotten over Ron a little over two years ago.

It just didn't seem worth it with the games they kept playing, and how much he unconsciously hurt her daily. The extra credit assignments, and tutoring kept her busy, not to mention the black-haired witch playing as a thorn in her side.

She just didn't have the time to care anymore. But it gave her an excuse to be absent from breakfast; making Harry assumed it was because she didn't want to see the new love birds so early in the morning, being too painful to watch and such.

"Hey!" Harry yelped as three paper made birds flew at him, slapping him in the face.

Hermione turned to find the source, not surprised to see Bellatrix looking at them, her pureblood minions laughing hysterically. She was surprised to see a satisfied smirk grace Bellatrix's face, coincidentally, it happened about the same time Harry removed his hand from her shoulder.

The bookworm shook her head, choosing to ignore it for now as Professor Slughorn approached the class with a challenge; the winner, being rewarded with a vial of Liquid Luck. She had never seen so many people so excited for potions.

Somehow Harry ended up winning with a book from someone called the half blood prince. "Who do you think it is?"

"No idea," She had a few theories, but she was a little caught up in the book burning a hole in her bag. "Hey," She smiled softly as Ron finally broke free from Lavender to join them on their way to the great hall.

Ron nodded her way before sliding on Harry's other side. "What are you gonna do with it?"

"With?" Harry frowned, playing dumb as he looked straight ahead.

Ron rolled his eyes. "Come on mate, the potion! What are you going to use it for?"

Harry shrugged as they drew closer to the dinning hall. "I don't know yet,"

"I would use it for the match," Ron confessed, crossing his arms. "I'm so nervous, I feel like I'm going to vomit slugs again," He whispered the last part to himself, still haunted by the memories of Bellatrix and her goons hexing him.

Harry sat down, Ron plopping in across from him, as he spoke. "You're going to be fine," Hermione sat beside Ron, plucking food from the floating trays to fill her empty stomach; next time she'd be sure to pack a snack. "Now, we're all meeting at the dorm after the match, we must go over some theories,"

"He still thinks Narcissa has something to do with what happened to Katie Bell." Hermione whispered to the redhead, tossing a piece of chicken into her starving mouth.

Ron snorted. "Is he still on that?" He asked her, as if Harry were not at the table."

"I don't understand why you two don't believe me," Harry groan, frustrated.

Hermione sighed, trying to calm him down. "I'm just saying we need more proof then suspicious behavior, and your gut feelings. Get some solid evidence, and we'll see,"

It seemed to convince him. "…fine," He shook his head. "I still need to get close with Slughorn—"

The mention of their potions professor reminded Ron of the task at hand. "Harry, please, help me out here. Let me use your Liquid Luck," Ron folded his hands. "I need to be amazing tonight, or I won't have a spot on the team,"

Hermione could barely contain her snicker as she watched Harry trick Ron into thinking his water was Liquid Luck from class. But watching Ron straighten up with new confidence, that was already somewhere hidden deep within himself, brought a smile to her face.

Hermione shook her head, amused for the rest of the evening. "I'm going to get some work done, I'll see you tonight," Ron managed to give her a fleeting wave as he began stuffing his face.

Harry nodded. "You'll be at the match, then?"

"Of course," She gave him a thin smile before making her way out of the hall.

It was time to get some answers.

Hermione warded her bed with a silencing spell, before closing the drapes. She pulled out an oval shaped mirror, waving her hand over it; the reflection of her face shook before it transformed to pitch black.

She lifted the book from her brown bag, holding it up. "…why did you give this to me?" She raised an expectant brow, watching, unimpressed, as the black fog transfigured into a face.

"Hello to you two," The face sneered, thin lips snapping into a grin.

Hermione snarled, tossing the book across her bed. "I'm serious, stop giving me gifts. Especially if it has to do with dark magic, I want no part in any of your plans. Do you understand?"

She heard him sigh, beady eyes contacting her soft brown; she shivered but kept their eyes locked. "My dear Hermione, can't I send my niece something nice once and a while?"

"There are always strings attached when it comes to you," She said, crossing her arms with a glare. "What's it for? I'm not joining your cause,"

Her uncle shrugged. "I've tried countless times to get you to join my army. You are family, even if my pathetic brother has raised you to become soft and…muggle." He spat the word out, making her flinch as if he had used mudblood. "I find it's my responsibility to protect, and teach you. Remind you who you are,"

She knew who she was.

"Protect, or warn," She demanded.

A dark laugh left his lips. "Both I suppose. Things are going to get dangerous at Hogwarts and I just want to make sure you're on the right side when the time comes. It will be sooner than you think,"

"…" Hermione thought back to Harry's suspicions. "Are you recruiting people from the school, to carry out your plans? There was a necklace supposed to be delivered to Dumbledore with the capacity to kill. Is that your plan?" She asked, but feared she already knew the answer.

Her uncle shook his head. "I can tell you all my plans if you just join me, my dear niece. You can be my right hand,"

"You wouldn't be asking for me to join if I didn't have something you needed," She whispered, angry; he didn't care about her, he was just using her.

He raised an eyebrow. "And what is it, you think I need from you?"

"Harry's trust," Hermione spoke, watching her uncle prickle. "…if I were on your side you could use me to deliver useful information, but it won't happen. Harry is my best friend, and he will defeat you—"

"Foolish child, you don't know what you're talking about." He dismissed, but she could see the flicker behind his eyes; years of concealing his emotions would cause many others to miss it.

But she had known him for years. He watched her grow up.

"And you're afraid of him." She finished, a spark of defiance in her eyes.

His anger was loud. "I will only give you one more chance to choose the correct side. And this time, when I test you, you better make the right choice," Was all he whispered, furious, as he cut their connection.

The mirror changing back, her conflicted reflection stared back at her.

"Goodbye, Uncle Riddle," Hermione whispered, dropping the mirror as her hands began to shake; the terror she had concealed from him hitting her with full force.

His power emanated through the mirror each time they spoke, such power and destruction, causing her to grow fearful. War was coming sooner than any of them had predicted. And it seemed her uncle was after the one person keeping the school standing. Killing him would surely cause a hole in their united front, it was the perfect plan.

Taking away their leader.

"Harry may be on to something," She mumbled, thinking back to his accusations about Narcissa. "…but maybe he's questioning the wrong sister." Her mind wandered, there was no way Andy was involved; but maybe Bellatrix.

Shaking her head, Hermione hid the dark book under her bed before exiting her dorm. Perhaps she did need to talk to Harry after all.

Hermione pushed her way through a crowd of excited Gryffindor's, as they celebrated their victory against their rivals. She spotted Ron being crowded by a dozen fans, while Harry watched his friend near Luna and Ginny.

"Great job out there," Hermione said, grinning, as she tried to convey joy.

Luna frowned, her dazed eyes looking at her. "Hermione, I didn't see you in the bleachers. Were you sitting somewhere else?"

Hermione cursed. "I came a little later, I was caught up in the library," She cut off Luna's next question, smiling at Harry. "Seems like Ron is enjoying himself, guess it's just you and I tonight,"

"Fame has gone to his head if you ask me," Ginny huffed, making a face as Lavender pulled her brother into a deep kiss; causing everyone to cheer. "They've been snogging like that since we won," She gave Hermione a look, sympathetic. "…boys are gits, but he'll come around,"

Hermione nodded, sick of the sympathetic looks but grateful for the excuses they granted her. "Do you mind if we—" She pointed to the exit, faking heartache.

"Of course," Harry smiled softly, giving Ginny a quick hug before following her through the crowd. "Did you come up with any ideas? To the whole Katie Bell thing?" He asked softly as they neared the end of the crowd.

Hermione nodded. "Don't tease too much, but, I think you're on to something,"

"Yes!" She had never seen him so elated. "Finally, do you have proof? What made you change your mind?"

Hermione swallowed. "Just a feeling," She was too busy looking back at her friend, she didn't see the figure in front of her until it was too late. "Umf!" She groaned as she bumped into the last person she needed to see.

"Watch where you're going, Granger!" Bellatrix growled, still dressed in her quidditch uniform, mud and specks of dirt covering her; she even noted a hint of blood on her collar.

She swallowed, leaning back into the supporting arms of Harry who caught her when the Black tossed her aside.

If there was one thing she knew to avoid, was an angry Bellatrix who had just lost a match to her rival house. The match had only ended ten minutes ago, and she could tell her anger was fresh; her eyes dark with mischief. Tonight, she was out for blood.

"S-sorry," She stuttered, it was her fault; she wasn't watching where she was going. "It was my mistake,"

Bellatrix rolled her eyes, wand twirling in her right hand. "Obviously," She glanced at Harry, glaring, as she seemed to contemplate something. "…where are you two headed, your stupid celebration is that way."

"I think the better question is," Hermione prayed Harry would leave it alone, he shouldn't poke a bear, but he kept going. "Why are you on our side of the tower,"

Bellatrix glared, arm twitching as she prepared her wand. "You—"

"You don't have to answer to us!" Hermione shouted, grabbing her best friends hand, dragging Harry along as he frowned towards the Black. "We were just leaving,"

But Harry wouldn't leave without a final question tossed over his shoulder. "Funny how your sister was missing during the whole match. If something like the Katie Bell incident happens again there will be no question to who's responsible."

Instead of getting upset like Hermione assumed, Bellatrix seemed amused. "Watch it Potter, if I didn't know any better I would think you're accusing her of something. But I can assure you Andy—"

Hermione frowned, did she really have no idea? Or was she just a master of playing dumb.

"Andy? No, it's—" Harry shook his head, frowning. "…you have no clue what she's up to, do you?" He turned to walk away when Bellatrix just stared at him with blank confusion.

Hermione followed close behind, sighing as they turned right towards an empty hall. "I guess my theory of Bellatrix being part of the dark lord's plan was wrong. There's no way, she seemed genuinely lost," She licked her lips, glancing over at him. "Which means…"

"…like I said, we must keep an eye out for Narcissa," Harry said, determined. "First, I'll help Dumbledore get the memory he needs from Slughorn, then we deal with her," He plucked out the vial of Liquid Luck he had won in class earlier. "And I'll use this to speed the process along,"

Hermione nodded, a grin forming over her features. "Brilliant, do you need me to help with anything?"

"I don't want you following Narcissa alone, it could be dangerous," Harry mumbled, placing the vial back into his pocket. "For now, we should just leave it alone, like you said; we don't have any evidence,"

The brown-eyed teen sighed. "Alright, do nothing, sounds like a great plan," She snapped.

"Well it's all we can do now," Harry argued, looking at her with a frown. "Earlier you didn't even believe me, and now you're convinced. What changed?"

Hermione bit her lip, she wished she could tell her friends everything; about who she really was. "…I just have a feeling this war is going to come faster than we expect it to, and if I can, I want to prevent the death of innocent people."

She wanted to tell them, but she couldn't.

Harry seemed to accept her answer. "Neither do I,"

They wouldn't understand.