Disclaimer: Any characters, situations, references and locations used in this story that are recognizable in the Harry Potter books are JK Rowling's. Although, I have changed quite a few of the buildings (in location and appearance). The plot, however, is mine.

Author's Note: Ha! Another fan fic from me... and I hope you all enjoy it. The idea came to me one day when I was watching the sun go down (how dramatic! I know!). Anyways, reviews and suggestions are most appreciated... as are your kind words of inspiration. Don't be fooled with the first few chapters of this fan fic. I'm a Draco/Hermione shipper and I always will be! To all the readers of 'Impossible to Ever Love', I am not giving up on the story; chapter 22 is half-finished. Expect the next installment to be up quite soon. Meanwhile, enjoy!

Like a Thief in the Night

Chapter 1

"Hermione dear, you are going to be late for work if you don't hurry up." Mrs. Granger called out from beyond the closed door to Hermione's bedroom.

"I'm coming, Mother!" Hermione called out from inside, shaking her head as she looked herself over in the full-length mirror. Hermione to smooth out her brown bushy hair, without much success. She sighed before grabbing a hair scrunchie and placing her hair in a bun. Honestly, she didn't know why someone like Harry would even like her, much less be her ever-faithful boyfriend for the past 5 years.

Hermione giggled like a small girl. She was thinking of Harry again. It was amazing, amusing, and sometimes annoying that Harry Potter would invade her mind even in the most redundant of times. Times such as this; when she should be getting to work. She winced at the wall clock off to the side to her room when it told her that she was going to be late if she allowed herself to think about the love of her life for any longer than necessary.

Grabbing her tote bag, filled with parchments full of references and transcriptions and other kinds of complicated things, and a lightweight jacket, she rushed out of the door and sped down the stairs, jumping at the last step to the landing of the first floor of her parent's house. With a shout of good-bye and a wave, she was out the door walking at top speed towards the portkey that would send her from her house to the laboratory where she worked.

A background check of Hermione Granger might be in order right now.

Having found out that she was a witch when she was just a mere child, Hermione was packing her bags and learning all that she could about the wizarding world before she even opened her very first Hogwarts letter. During her first year in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, she became close friends with probably the two most important people in her life: Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley. Together, they studied... well, maybe she studied as the two boys went off doing mischief of some sort; played and overcame the many trials set upon them.

Harry was once a boy with big, round glasses and unruly hair who could've passed for any other Hogwarts' student. But he wasn't any other Hogwarts' student... because he was the Boy Who Lived. When little Harry was well... little, a powerful wizard by the name of Voldemort (and yes, we can say his name now) came and killed both of Harry's parents. Voldemort tried to kill Harry as well, but because of his destiny, Harry became the only person to ever survive the killing curse the Dark Lord put on him.

The uncertainty of good versus evil went on for seventeen years. During Harry's seventh year at Hogwarts, the Dark Lord, Voldemort, tried to defeat Harry Potter, Headmaster of Hogwarts' Albus Dumbledore and the rest of the wizarding world who were in the Light Side. Fortunately for the wizarding world and the muggle world as well, Voldemort was defeated and his followers were all sent to Azkaban.

But Harry would not have successful in his mission if it weren't for his best friend, Ron Weasley. Ron was, and still is, a tall and lanky fellow with blazing red hair that matched his attitude. Ron was responsible for the support and reinforcements during that battle between good and evil.

And they both wouldn't have survived the whole ordeal if it weren't for Hermione's quick thinking and even quicker action. A hearty celebration was in order after the whole thing and the trio was in the middle of it all. The night wore on of partying and merrymaking... and as the rest stayed inside the Great Hall, outside, in the Quidditch pitch, Harry kissed Hermione for the first time.

After graduating from Hogwarts, Harry went on to become one of the best Aurors in England. Even though that Voldemort was dead and really, really, really dead, there were still the wizards that needed to be kept in control and put under much surveillance. What scared most of the people now were the mostly unidentified attackers, who the Aurors classified as Death Eater and Voldemort Immortal Legion (D.E.V.I.L.s), who caused random acts of misdemeanors and crimes. Some of the D.E.V.I.L.s were caught and sent to Azkaban, but some still got away and they were most likely growing in number. For what reason, exactly, the Ministry of Magic did not know.

But in the midst of all the crime that was kept more or less in control, the rest of the wizarding world sleep softly and deeply in their beds at night, having no more fear of raids or mass destructions by Voldemort's faithful followers.

We're getting away from the topic at hand...

During her seventh year at Hogwarts, Hermione's ideals changed. No longer did she want to become a Hogwarts professor, a career most people were expecting her to choose. Instead, after graduating, she gave a year and a half to intensively studying Potions. Guided by Professor Severus Snape and his colleague, Professor Douglas Mackenzie, they supported Hermione's decision and trained her to become very proficient in the art.

After that one year and a half, Hermione emerged as having top honors in Potions. Professor Mackenzie, who was probably half as old as Dumbledore, having acquired much wealth during his work in the field, came to Hermione one day and proposed an idea that would change her life. He was in the middle of creating a Potions Laboratory designed specifically to supply St. Mungo's Hospital with all the medicines they would ever need and the chance to create new medicines and other serums as well. Hermione graciously accepted.

It took another six months for the Laboratory to be finished. When it was done, Hermione and two other witches soon claimed the place to be theirs. They quickly set up their materials and set to work. Of course, some of the materials and ingredients had to be ordered from the Poltergeist Profuse Potion Pile or the Herbology Greenhouse which former classmate, Neville Longbottom manned; and there were times when the demand grew larger than the supply, but Hermione was happy with her work. Her work consisted of getting transcripts of the new difficulties of the patients at St. Mungo's and hospitals from other countries as well and trying to come up with a new potion to solve them.

The pay was more than enough to persuade her to get a place of her own when she turned twenty. Unfortunately, because of her work and the dedication needed in it, she was unable to keep up her new apartment and she ultimately had to go back to her parent's home until she had a real house of her own.

Marriage was never a concept in her mind for the last five years of dating Harry. She felt that they were too young to even think about something as definite as that. Harry, for the most part, respected her decision. But it wasn't long after her decision to take things extremely slow that he went out and bought an engagement ring, waiting for the right time to pop the question that would hopefully make him the happiest man in the world.

With a swirl and a pull and other stomach-turning things that happened when you used a portkey, Hermione was in front of the lab in no time at all. The lab was situated at the back of the east wing of St. Mungo's so that the serums could be transported easily and there would be no miscommunication within the two buildings.

She smiled when she saw her friend and fellow Potions lab colleague, Hannah Abbot, sitting on a stone bench just a few feet from the front door of the lab. Hannah gave a small smile back. She was a slightly curvy young woman with long dirty-blonde hair that she always kept in a low ponytail. She had blue-green eyes and like Hermione, she never wore make-up unless you counted lip gloss.

"Good morning, Hannah!" Hermione greeted cheerfully as she took out the key to the lab (the lock was protected against all sorts of charms and things that could unlock it) and unlocked the glass-and-steel door to the lab. "Isn't this just the most beautiful day?" Hermione continued as she opened the door and turned on the lights.

"I guess." Hannah said somewhat plainly. But Hermione was used to her friend's quite sullen demeanor and continued on to her work table and set her tote bag on top of it. Hannah, who was great at Herbology, as she was dating Neville, and research and turned to be even more bookish than Hermione was in their Hogwarts years, sat at her usual place which was by the huge glass window in the back where she could think. Hannah unloaded her bag and brought out not one, not two but six heavy books about the old and still-uncured illnesses in the wizarding world.

For the next few minutes, both were settling in, arranging and rearranging their stuff on their respective tables. Hermione however, was unusually restless and was humming (if slightly off-key) a tune as she went from her desk, which was directly across the front doors of the Potion's lab and was beside the long lab worktable she often worked on, to other parts of the lab where she would do nothing at all.

Hannah, after watching Hermione flit, for a lack of a better word, from place to place, finally had enough and took matters into her own hands. Thankfully, Hermione had finally settled down on her desk chair, idly scanning over a few pages of transcriptions she'd been poring over for the past week before placing them down and no doubt going to jump up again if Hannah didn't do anything.

"What is wrong with you today Hermione?" Hannah spoke up suddenly. Gone was her sullenness and in place of it were amusement and a little concern.

"Nothing, nothing..." Hermione replied cheerily, waving her off. Hannah's eyebrow rose as Hermione tried to hide a grin. Then Hannah walked over to Hermione and leaned on the edge of her desk, crossing her arms over her chest.

"I'm just going to stand here until you tell me what's going on in that head of yours." Hannah said.

They both looked at each other. Hermione on the very verge of laughter and Hannah with a very mock- determined look on her face

"You and Harry got engaged, didn't you?" Hannah said suddenly before Hermione could say anything.

"No!" Hermione screeched, shaking her head vigorously.

"C'mon... don't tell me you're all happy and cheery today just because... there has got to be a reason!"

"A reason for what?" Called out a voice. The two girls turned around and sported ear to ear grins as they saw the third and final member of the Potions Lab approaching them: Lavender Brown.

Lavender was probably the most different from the three. After all, while Hermione and Hannah both had steady boyfriends, Lavender went out with a different man every week. Her choices varied from bookish and boring to wild and weird. And, she was the most fashionable of the group. Today, Lavender was wearing an olive-green turtleneck, a black skirt and knee-high black leather boots as opposed to Hermione's gray slacks and red sweater and Hannah's oh-so-drab well-not-really-but-kinda-suit. What most didn't expect about Lavender was her quick wit and intelligence. In the Potion's lab, she was in charge of recording and filing the results of the experiments and most often she helped Hermione with the brewing.

"What are you talking about?" Lavender asked, setting down her leather bag on top of her desk and walking up to the other two.

"Hermione's getting engaged." Hannah replied before Hermione could even think of what to say. Hermione looked at Hannah with wide eyes. But Hannah was all-innocence... it was Lavender who looked extremely appalled.

"Engaged?" Lavender echoed. "How can you be engaged when you don't even have a boyfriend?"

Hermione glared at the two. "First off, I'm not engaged and I'm not getting engaged anytime soon," She said looking pointedly at Hannah who simply rolled her eyes. "Second," here, Hermione turned to Lavender. "What do you mean 'I don't have a boyfriend.'?"

"Well it's true." Lavender replied coolly, running her manicured fingers (French-tipped, mind you) through her long raven-colored hair. "You don't have a boyfriend."

"Excuse me, but if you haven't heard, I've been going out with Harry for five years." Hermione informed.

"Oh, Harry?" Lavender considered him for a moment. As if she didn't know him at all and was trying to picture him in her mind. "Like I said." Lavender said, turning to Hermione and crossing her arms over her chest, "You don't have a boyfriend."

"And what's that supposed to mean?" Hermione said quite indignantly.

"Okay, guys... cool it." Hannah warned.

"It's alright Hannah, I'm just making a point." Lavender said.

"Which is?" Hermione asked.

"That Harry might be Boy-Who-Lived and all, but that's just it." Lavender said, as if it explained everything. "He's a boy... not even the least sense husband material."

"What's all this talk about marriage anyway? I'm not even getting married!" Hermione replied.

"Hermione, you're my friend... but really, you need a man, not a boy." Lavender said. "I mean Harry's cute and all but he's just too..."

"Nice?" Hannah supplied.

"Sweet and loving?" Hermione quipped, smiling.

"Virgin." Lavender said with the nonchalance of someone talking about the weather. Hannah burst out laughing while Hermione groaned.

"I'm serious!" Lavender defended as Hannah went off to the bookshelf which was to the side of her desk and Hermione shook her head, turning back to her work. Having found that both were definitely not going to listen to anything she was going to say, Lavender shrugged and sauntered off to her desk, muttering an "I know you agree with me, Granger." under her breath so that only Hermione could hear.

Hermione shook off the comment that Lavender said. It was not rare for them to have these trivial things to discuss and argue about first thing in the morning. And anyway, she was in love with Harry Potter... nothing was going to change that. With a renewed sense of contentment and happiness, Hermione turned to work.

Meanwhile, off in a different part of the wizarding world where one could hear screams and cries for miles away, a man sat amidst all the tormented howls of his fellow inmates. He was simply sitting on an old, rickety chair, staring at his hands in muteness. His hair was long, almost up to his waist, was wispy and sprinkled with gray and white hairs here and there. His face is sunken, his eyes are almost hollow.

No one really paid much attention to this man, because the guards stationed there (the dementors were banished long ago) did not really care about the prisoners' well-being as long as no one escapes.

The torture goes on... everyone has their fill of torture and torment in Azkaban now. What they actually do will not be said here, it is far too gruesome. The pain does not only focus on the body... it invades the mind and probably the soul as well. It does not only traumatizes the victim, it makes their hopes shatter and their memories bleed.

The quiet man with the thin hair and sunken face slowly turns his attention to the window of his small and dingy cell. The morning was beautiful and the sun was shining brightly... but he sees no color. His eyes are almost blank. For years he has been there, watching the day through his small cell window and seeing nothing. Little does he know, that in some part of the wizarding world, a plan was about to take action.