Dueling With Destiny

Summary: Everyone has a destiny. But for Hermione, that destiny is something she has been fighting her whole life…
Rated: K+
Disclaimer: No, I'm not a multi-millionaire nor do I claim to be J.K. Rowling so please don't sue. The only character I own in this chapter is Jeremy.

Author's Note: I started writing this story a long time ago. The plot has been playing in my head for some time now at least. Yet with the recent 6th book some things had to be changed to accommodate. Not everything is the same as it is in the books. There are a few changes, one drastic one that creates the plot line and some other little ones to help make the plot work. I tried to keep the characters in cannon form as best I could. If someone seems OC let me know. I hope you enjoy reading this. I certainly enjoyed writing it. Any thoughts or criticism on the story would be greatly appreciated. So, without further ado, I present…

Dueling With Destiny

Prologue: So It Begins

April 18, 1980
Thorton Castle

It was late, almost midnight. Outside the thunderstorm had subsided into a gloomy drizzle. The winds howl had become less fierce and the thunder was but a distant crash.

Inside the castle, Jeremy Thorton sat in his study sipping a glass of wine. He was a well-built man, with straight, dark brown hair and a neatly trimmed beard. He leaned back in the plush, red armchair, staring into the fire as if in wait. The clock on his desk ticked away the minutes.

Suddenly, there was a pop sound and a tall, dark, hooded figure emerged from the shadows.

"My time is limited Thorton. What is it you wished to see me about?" the figure asked.

Jeremy stood and gestured to the seat next to him. "Please, sit down my lord. I have something that needs to be discussed."

The figure nodded. It pulled back the hood of its cloak to reveal a man, slim with pitch-black hair in direct contrast to his pale skin. His eyes were a dark blue, seemingly almost black in some light. He was a good few inches shorted than Jeremy and appeared quite a few years younger yet his demeanor was that of someone completely in charge. He seated himself in one of the two armchairs, glancing at Jeremy.

"Well?"

Jeremy took his seat once more. The cool, almost cold, look he had just received was enough to turn many men to blubbering imbeciles but Jeremy was determined to keep his wits about him. He took a deep breath, sat up a little straighter, and began.

"My Lord, I believe I have found the answer to the 'problem' we have been so worried about as of late."

The man leaned back in his chair, his eyes remaining focused on Jeremy. "Go on."

"The girl," he hesitated before continuing on. "She possesses phenomenal power. Shows the signs of a great witch. Had I not seen it for myself I would not have believed it to be possible." He paused for a moment.

"My Lord, I think she may be the one we have been looking for."

There was silence for a moment afterward, the words hanging in the air between them.

"Well, this is unexpected," the man replied finally. "And… Where is the girl now?"

"Upstairs with Nora. Shall I have her brought down?"

The man merely nodded. Jeremy rose from his seat and crossed the floor. He stopped in front of a large portrait of a man attired in 18th Century clothing. His dark hair was streaked with gray and his face held the wrinkles of a man who had weathered many years.

"Have Nora bring the girl here." The man in the portrait nodded to show he understood and gave a small bow before walked out of the picture.

A moment later a slight knock sounded on the door. It opened to reveal a small, middle-aged woman with rosy cheeks and chestnut hair pulled back into a bun. In her arms, was a small child, wrapped in a soft blanket. The woman looked about the room uncertainly before settling her eyes on Jeremy.

"Thank you, Nora. That will be all." He said, his arms outstretched for the child. Nora hesitated for a second as she clutched the child closer to her. Jeremy's eyes darkened. Reluctantly, Nora placed the child in his outstretched arms before making her way slowly out of the room.

Jeremy turned back to his guest who rose and approached to appraise the child. He lifted up the child out of Jeremy's arms, pulling back the blanket to stare into her face. A pair of large, brown eyes stared back at him. For a while both child and man watched one another. Slowly, the man pulled out his wand. He placed it firmly on the child's head and muttered a spell. A silver light emitted from the wand. He said nothing for a moment before withdrawing his wand.

The child's hand reached out to grasp the man's finger in her little fist. She giggled happily at having caught it. The man stopped, his eyes cool and calculating. Then something very peculiar happened. The man smiled.

"Well Thorton, it appears that for once you were correct. The girl is astonishingly gifted."

The two men talked into the night while the little one played happily on the floor before eventually falling asleep. Finally, hours later, they rose. The mysterious man walked to the center of the room, drawing up his hood to cover his face once more. He turned back to glance once more at father and child.

"Watch the girl carefully, Thorton." The man warned. "There are many out there who would seek to harm her."

Jeremy nodded. "Of course, Your Lordship."

The man watched Jeremy coolly. He reached into his pocket and strode back toward the fire to look at the child once more. The girl's eyes were now shut, fast asleep in dream land. The man reached out and clasped a necklace around her tiny neck. It was a gold chain with a glowing red stone at the end of it.

"Keep it safe." He muttered as he turned to leave once more. He paused once again however to look back at the slumbering child.

"I never would have imagined…" he began before stopping and shaking his head.

Then, with a pop, he was gone.