Chapter One

The Night He Returned

It was a dark and stormy night. Well, it wasn't that stormy, more like a heavy rain that was on its last legs. It had been raining harder a few minutes before, but like all storms it was losing it's staying power and now a light sprinkle pattered upon the roof tiles and the panes of glass in the windows. It was a comforting sound, a rhythmic sound that comforted the woman sitting before a fire place, a book in one hand and a cup of tea in the other.

The woman was of medium height, medium build, brown eyed, and brown haired, almost what one would call average until they took a second look at her. Her eyes shone with intelligence, a comforting smile graced her face, one that put people to ease and in moments had them knowing this was a person they could trust and a person they could count on.

Hermione Jane Granger sat comfortably in a battered old chair. It was her reading chair, in the right position to get good light from the lamps, candles, and fireplace. The chair had been with her for many years, a constant fixture in her life, from the days as a child to the days of living on her own as an adult. Hours upon hours had been spent upon that chair, hours of losing oneself in the simple joy of reading, writing, or just thinking.

At that moment she was reading, a simple book for entertainment's sake. The soft patter of rain complimented by the soft music playing in the background, the warm air coming from crackling fireplace providing the right atmosphere. Hermione smiled to herself, leaning back in her chair and taking a sip of tea. It was home.

Bang! Bang!

Hermione started, nearly dropping her cup of tea upon her lap. She quickly set aside the tea and immediately reached into the pockets of her robe and pulled out a wand. The cool, smooth length of wood fitted her hand perfectly and it gave her a sense of calm and clear headedness. She glanced at the clock on the wall, no one should be coming around this late in the night. No one with good intentions that was..

Bang! Bang!

Hermione took a deep breath, brushing a strand of hair from her face and glancing at the windows and other doors in the cottage. Hundreds of spells and curses ran through her mind, she wasn't defenseless. If it came to it should was sure she could hold against anything short of an extremely powerful witch or wizard.

Taking another deep breath Hermione shook her head. When did an enemy ever knock on someone's door prior to attacking them? It could be a trick, but Hermione suddenly doubted that. Defenses didn't all rest in her mind or wand, it permeated the whole area, from the soil upon the ground, to the wood, stone, glass, and metal of the cottage. It would only take the greatest of powers to get past those, if they intended her harm.

Hermione still frowned. There were still ways to get past even the greatest of spells, charms, or wards. She walked to the door, her wand pointed at it steadily and a curse upon her tongue just in case. She padded softly across the thick rugs that lay upon the hardwood floor.

Bang! Bang!

"Open the damn door, Hermione! I know you're in there!" A voice shouted from beyond the stout wooden door.

Hermione stopped for a moment, a sense of shock and anger burning through her. She lowered her wand, and then clenched her fist around it tightly, shoving it into her pocket and walked toward the door. She paused for a moment, her hands resting upon the latch to open the door and then with another deep breath she pulled it open. The blast of cold, west air blew her hair back and brought the fresh smell of wet earth and rain. A figure stood upon her steps, his face illuminated by the light escaping out the door.

"Hey, Hermione." Harry Potter said, a grin upon his face and his hair and clothing plastered with rain. "How's it going?"

"Hermione just stared, unable to say anything. Emotions warred within her and after a long pause she punched him.