Disclaimer:I do not own Harry Potter and I will never be lucky enough to claim that I do.

Author's Notes: So the Harry Potter fandom officially bores me to tears now but do not fear, with the day of release for Deathly Hallows drawing near I am sure when I read it my love for magic will return with a vengeance!

Chapter one edited on: 23rd of June, 2007.

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Where it Begins

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He hissed as his basket was banged again and extracted his claws to scratch at the walls of the wicker jail that his owner put him it. "It'll be alright Crookshanks," cooed his owner's voice from up above, "I'll let you out on the train but for now you've got to stay in, okay?"

He replied by spitting loudly.

"You'll do no such thing," snapped the ginger haired boy and Crookshanks hissed angrily as he heard the boy mention that rat, Scabbers.

For years he lived in the Magical Menagerie and never had he ever come across a rat like that. That rat didn't smell right and Crookshanks always trusted his nose. There was something about that rat that made him want to bury his claws into it and it wasn't because it was a rat, no it was something different.

Something he wanted to follow through with.

Heart beating furiously against his rib cage as the basket lurched; he meowed loudly to show his displeasure at his owner. "Sorry Crookshanks," Hermione's apologetic voice came from above.

Curling up inside the basket, Crookshanks gave a hiss as his basket banged again. As soon as he reaches on the train, he decided, he was going to explore and then follow through with that 'something'.

-

Looking on as the scenery outside the window became wilder and darker while the clouds overhead thickened as the Hogwarts Express moved steadily north, she fumbled with the straps of Crookshanks's basket.

"Don't let that thing out!" Ron said, but too late; Crookshanks leapt lightly from the basket, stretched, yawned, and sprang onto Ron's knees and he shoved Crookshanks angrily away.

"Get out of here!"

At that same moment the compartment door slid open to reveal the plump witch with the food cart. Seeing an exit between the food cart witch's legs, Crookshanks bolted out of the compartment with Hermione calling after the cat.

"Crookshanks!" she called, shoving her way between the door and the witch to look down the corridor. "Come back here!"

But all signs of the cat were gone and Hermione let out an aggravated sigh. Turning back to look into the compartment, she glared at Ron who just shrugged at Hermione and took a big bite of the Cauldron Cake Harry passed him.

Stalking away from the compartment, she gripped her wand tightly in her robe pocket. Shouldering some of the students in the corridor, she glanced left and right looking for the cat. Shoving her way between groups of Slytherins, she held out her wand warningly to her side when she heard the insults thrown to her back.

Spotting a few Ravenclaws, Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors down the train; she questioned each of them if they saw a ginger haired cat bolt down this way but was replied by a shaking of heads saying no. Continuing onwards with a frown on her face, she screamed when a hand shot out from one of the compartments and pulled her in.

Struggling against the hands holding her, she felt them slacken their hold when a voice called from behind. "Oy, its Hermione!"

Furrowing her brows, she turned around to see Fred, George and Lee grinning sheepishly at her. "Sorry 'Mione," said Fred, rubbing the back of his neck, "but we thought you were-"

"-our target," finished George.

"We really-"

"-honestly-"

"-didn't mean-"

"-to scare you," ended Fred and Lee nodded his head in agreement.

Shaking her head in disapproval, she put her hands on her hips looking at them with a scowl. "Who did you mean to scare?" she asked looking at their devious faces in turn.

"Ah-ah!" George wagged a finger at her, giving her a wink, "We shan't tell a soul!"

Rolling her eyes to the ceiling, a smile tugged at her lips. "Is it a Slytherin?"

Fred gave her an insulted look. "Why Hermione, how dare you insinuate that we'd hurt Hogwarts' dungeon pets!"

"Yes, how dare you!" mocked George and Hermione laughed.

"Whatever. Has anyone of you seen Crookshanks by any chance? Your darling little brother scared him off," she stated, scowl returning.

Fred sighed and threw his arm around Hermione's shoulders. "Sorry," he said, "haven't seen the beast anywhere."

George and Lee smirked at Hermione's annoyed face. "He's not a beast!" she protested loudly as they pushed her out of the compartment, shutting the door behind her with a bang.

"Ugh!"

Muttering about how insensitive and idiotic boys can be, she continued down the train looking for her cat.

-

The boy had pushed him to the ground, saying to get out of the compartment while his owner protested. His golden cat eyes looked around the room, locking on the figure of a man next to the window. He had sniffed the air and didn't like what reached his nose. Other than that wretched rat's scent there was something else in the air. It smelt wild and dangerous. His ears had caught the sound of the door behind him opening and he whipped around to see his escape between that lady's legs and went for it.

He bolted between the legs, ignoring his owner's call for him to return and ran down the corridor with the beating of his heart drumming in his ears like tribal music. Diving in between the humans and dodging legs, Crookshanks felt alive. He'd been always in his cage at the Magical Menagerie, only being let out once in a while. When the girl took him away from the pet shop, that crammed, smelly, noisy pet shop, he had vowed to explore every inch of his new home and to take the opportunity to run whenever it presented itself. Yes indeed, he felt alive.

-

Cedric yawned, stretching his arms out. Leaning back against his seat, he laughed at a joke one of his friends had just cracked. Letting a loop sided grin grace his face, he glanced through the glass of the compartment door and saw a group of Ravenclaw girls pass looking in at him, blushing and giggling when they saw him smile at them. However what they didn't know was that he was smiling at one Ravenclaw in particular.

Extremely pretty with a curtain of raven hair flowing behind her and the most enticing blue eyes he had ever seen, Cedric felt his heart speed up when Cho Chang waved at him with an adorable blush gracing her cheeks.

A dreamy smile made its way on his face after the girls passed and vaguely in his mind he heard his friends laugh and whistle, one singing "Cedric and Cho sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G-!"

Snapping out of his daze, he glared at them saying, "Come on you guys...Cho and I are just friends."

"Just friends…yeah right," retorted his best mate Andrew, grinning at him like a Cheshire cat.

John whistled, winking at him. "I don't blame you Diggory, Chang's hot for a fourth year."

Cedric could feel the heat creeping up his neck and dragged a hand through his blond locks with a sheepish smile on his face. "You looovvee her, don't you Ced?" teased David, enjoying the mortified look on Hufflepuff's Quidditch Captain and Golden boy.

Rolling his eyes as they continue to taunt him, he grabbed a chocolate frog and threw it at David who in return threw a pumpkin pasty at him resulting in the entire occupants of the compartment to engage in an all out candy war.

-

Shuffling her feet on the ground, she groaned in annoyance glancing around the clear corridor for Crookshanks. Almost all of the students had gone back into their compartments leaving a few to wonder around aimlessly on the corridor. Glancing outside the window Hermione could see that sky was already dark and a few stars twinkling annoyingly at her.

She had been looking for her cat for an hour and a half and turned up with nothing but the knowledge that Crookshanks had been running through the train, scaring some of the students with his hisses and spits. No one had the sense to stop him.

Idiots…

Suddenly the train became very dark and the lanterns above flickered out. The moonlight pouring in through the windows disappeared as the clouds in the sky slowly covered the glowing orb. She narrowed her eyes, turning about on the spot not able to see through the darkness. Reaching for her wand, she had just brush the surface of the polished wood when a voice ran through the train coming from behind her.

"Aspirito!"

She whipped around. Eyes widening as a blue beam shot towards her, she let out a strangled gasp as it hit her on her chest. A sharp pull went through her body and she felt her legs give away beneath her as her body became weak. Her strength was slowly being drained and her breaths began coming in gasps.

Breathless and weak, she pushed her hand into her pocket grabbing her wand and pulling it out onto her lap. Gripping it with all the strength she could muster, she raised her arm pointing it down the corridor where the hex came and shot the first hex that came to mind.

"Bestia!"

Unintentionally, Hermione had just uttered the curse that altered so many deaths and events in the future.

Dropping her hand, her ears picked up the familiar sound of a cat meowing and weakly she murmured, "Crookshanks?"

The last thing she remembered before her eyes closed from the exhaustion creeping up on her body was the screaming of a boy.

-

Cedric exited the lavatory, rubbing his hands together as the temperature in the train dropped a few degrees. Taking slow strides down the deserted corridor, he glanced through the nearest window with a frown on his face. Stopping, he turned his body to face the window, gray eyes focused on black dots moving closer to the train in the moonlight.

The train rattled and the rain outside hammered against the window making it difficult to see exactly what was out there. As the train sped farther north, Cedric could see the windows were turning into a solid shimmering gray and he leaned in closer to the now black window.

"What the…?"

The train was starting to slow down. Taking a step back, his leg touched something soft. Turning around in surprise, he glanced down to see a cat with thick and fluffy ginger fur staring up at him with a squashed face and golden eyes blinking up at him interestedly.

"Well, what do we have here?" Cedric muttered, a smile spreading slowly across his face. Crouching down to the cat's eye level, he stared at the cat as it stared back at him. Taking out a hand cautiously, he watched as the cat came closer to it and purred his permission for Cedric to touch him. Stroking the cat, he was please to hear him purr contently, rubbing himself against his leg.

"What's a cat like you doing alone out here?" he asked, not expecting the ginger cat to answer him. The cat meowed at him and he scooped the cat up in his arms, standing up and scratching the ginger cat between the ears and was rewarded with a purr.

"Hmm…we better find your owner boy," he said to the cat as it meowed in his arms.

The train was getting slower and slower. As the pistons fell away, the wind and rain sounded louder than ever against the windows. Picking up his pace, along the carriage Cedric could see curious heads sticking out of their compartments. The train came to a stop with a jolt, and distant thuds and bangs told him that luggage had fallen out of the racks. Then, without warning, all the lamps went out and they were plunged into total darkness.

A chill went down his spine and he glanced behind him, thankful that there was some moonlight pouring in for him to look at the corridor behind him. The cat in his arms hissed and scratched at his arms. He clenched he jaw and turned his body partially to see a cloaked figure that towered to the ceiling coming towards him. Cedric saw that the face was completely hidden beneath its hood. His eyes darted downward and what he saw made his stomach contract. There was a hand protruding from the cloak and it was glistening, grayish, slimy looking and scabbed, like something dead that had decayed in the water…

The hand was extended towards him, and then the moonlight was gone.

Run!

He sprinted down the corridor with the cat in his arms scratching and spitting. His mind was reeling; he knew what that thing was. His father had showed him a drawing of it. What the hell is that thing doing here? He thought franticly, sensing that the creature was still behind him.

He could hear it breathing behind him, the long, slow rattling breath, as though it was trying to suck something more than the air from its surroundings. An intense cold swept over the train. The cold went deeper than his skin…

He gasped when something, no someone shouldered past him making him drop the cat to the floor. Turning around, his eyes were adjusted to the darkness enough to make out the dark form of someone running towards the creature. He was about to shout for whoever it was to stop when a breathless voice from behind him shouted.

"Bestia!"

All he remembered after that was he had screamed from the impact of the curse and the pain it spread through his body, he fell to the ground with his eyes closing and the cat was next to him in an instant, meowing.

And then darkness.

-

He had heard her looking for her cat. He didn't even know the Mudblood owned any pets, not that he cared. He followed her, discreetly of course like any Slytherin bred wizard ought to. She didn't notice him and he was grateful that he had stumbled across the Disillusionment Charm this summer; it was proving very handy already.

It was the perfect setting when the lamps flickered out and they were plunged into darkness on the corridor. He saw his chance and aimed his wand where he had seen her stand before the lights went out.

"Aspirito!"

He heard her fall to the ground and gasp for oxygen. He smirked to himself. The Aspiritus Curse causes the intended to become breathless and weak, rather like a Muggle asthma attack, he recalled in his head.

Standing there and listening to her struggle to breathe made him grin maliciously to himself but the resounding echo of footsteps running towards them had him narrowing his grey eyes. He turned and started to run, shouldering whoever that the person running towards where Granger lay crumpled on the ground was. He heard a loud meow and looked back. He grinned, turning his head forward and collided with something.

It was a body, clothed in a tattered cloak from what he could feel. He felt the person place a hand on his shoulder and frowned as the grip on his shoulder tightened. He froze when he heard a slow rattling breath above him and looked up in fear as an intense cold pierced through his skin, going deeper and into his chest. His eyes rolled up into his head. He couldn't see. He was…drowning. Something was dragging him downwards…

He gasped, eyes lolling back in place and pushed himself away from the creature. He realized what it was. Body racking from almost having his soul sucked out of his body, he ducked under where he thought the thing's arm was and ran down the corridor, heart pounding against his ribs.

Grabbing the nearest compartment door, he pulled it open and ran inside the compartment, shutting the door behind him with a bang. Gasping for breath, he closed his eyes tightly, knees shaking.

"Malfoy?"

He opened his eyes and stared at the shocked illuminated faces of the Weasley twins.

Oh Shit.

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TBC

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Curses/Hexes:

Bestia: A curse used to transfigure a person into an animal, the name of the desired animal following the incantation 'Bestia'.

Aspiritus Hex: This hex causes the intended to become breathless and weak, rather like a Muggle asthma attack. The incantation used is 'Aspirito'.

A/N: Show some love to this withering HP fan girl.