Chapter One

The Dark Mark

The rain came down so hard in the night that it was difficult to see, but she ran as fast as she could. Her heart was pounding against her chest with every step that she took.The ground gave way under her feet and made keeping her balance very difficult but she managed. After looking for a place to hide she found a tree with a few bushes surrounding it. She ducked behind them hoping that he couldn't see her footprints in the muddy ground leading him to where she was. Through the blur of the storm she saw a light. It looked to be from the end of a wand... his wand! He had it pointed towards the ground following the footprints that she had made. She franticly searched for someone or something. Then she saw it, a tree. She knew this tree and she knew its secrets. She leaped up and darted straight for it as fast as her legs could go. He saw her and ran after her. She made sure the switch was on and ran inside stopping at the entrance. The tree, now aware of its company started to move. He thought he had her. He was so close. Then he heard a loud groan. He looked up to see one of the whomping willow's limbs twisting angrily towards him. He dove out of the way right before it slammed into the ground. The ground shook beneath him. He scurried back and stood where he was just out of reach of the whomping willow. She stood there and watched as he stood there looking at her. Anger and confusion burned though his eyes. A few strands of her wet hair dangled in front of her face. She was breathing hard leaning up against the inner part of the tree. He looked her up and down and a smirk spread across his face. He griped his wand tightly and looked down at it. When looked back up she had disappeared into the tree.

"This is not over Granger." He whispered. He turned around and headed back to the school.

Once inside Hermione took of her robes and lit the candle sitting on the dresser. She looked around the Shrieking Shack. It was dirty, very dusty and by the looks of it could crumble at any moment. She took a deep breath and exhaled.

"Well I guess I'll just have to stay here for the night. No sense in going back out there in the storm and running into him. Besides it's late, even for a prefect." She said to herself.

Hermione waved her wand and cleaned the bed with a spell. She laid down on it and began to fume about running away from Draco Malfoy. "Why did I do that? Running from Malfoy! What would he have done anyway? Indeed what would he have done? I shouldn't have even been out there away." Hermione said out loud speaking to herself once again.

She had been conducting her rounds of the school as the storm raged on outside the castle walls. She had only wanted to take a stroll outside to gawk at the storm since she found them so fascinating and it also helped to clear her mind. The stress of the exams had been getting to her and she did not feel one hundred percent confident about them. Everyone always thought that she was, but she wasn't as confident as she let on. Everyone always expected her to be the best, even she did. She wouldn't have it any other way. She had been sitting on a bench under the overhang quietly taking in the storm and watching the lightning play in the clouds when she had seen the mysterious hooded figure coming from the forbidden forest. She remained there frozen and watched curiously as the figure removed its cloak and gingerly felt its forearm. A flash of lightning revealed his face and the freshly emblazoned Dark Mark he was staring at. Hermione eyes widened while she involuntarily gasped and drew his attention to her. For a moment, both just stared at each other weighing their options. Would she tell? What would he do to her now that he knew she had seen the Mark? She gave up trying to find a logical solution and ran. He remained there momentarily then bolted after her.

"I'm so stupid!" she moaned as she thumped the heel of her wand against her forehead. "I don't want him to think I am afraid of him. I AM in the Order of the Phoenix, well indirectly anyway. Why didn't I pull out my wand and why had that not even occurred to me at the time, some smartest witch of my age I am. Now he thinks I am afraid of him when I am not!" Or was she? She had run anyway, but not solely out of fear. He wasn't even old enough for the Dark Mark yet was he? If he could receive it now, then what was he capable of? If Voldemort branded him to follow him at such an age, he must posses an evil that even Voldemort admired, and that had to be some kind of evil. Or was it just because of his father, being as Lucius Malfoy was one of his most loyal death eaters. So maybe Voldemort expected the same from Draco as he did form Lucious.

She decided to just think about the situation tomorrow. She was felling very exhausted and needed to get some rest. She would try to at least. She turned to her side not even bothering to dry her hair and closed her eyes. She still heard the anger of the storm as it let its furry out into the night and drifted off to sleep.