Disclaimer……….. All characters are the copyright of JK Rowling

Chapter one

The Woman of his dreams

Seven a.m. and the alarm began to ring, its shrill ringing sound woke him almost as soon as it started, having hit the clock with his fist, he unwillingly dragged himself out of his nice warm bed into the cold air of the winter morning. He slipped his ragged old housecoat around his shoulders and walked across the ice cold floor to the bathroom.

Entering the bathroom he wished he had taken time to put on his slippers, the tile floor was freezing; he had already reached in to turn on the shower when he remembered he no longer had hot water, his boiler had died just three days before. The freezing shower water cascaded down his chest making him gasp and leap back as he tried to reach around it to shut it off. Cursing his bad luck he got dressed, picking the best clothes he possessed to get dressed in and then after polishing his shoes, he pulled on his only coat and rushed from his rundown building.

He had an appointment at the unemployment office at nine, and he had no intention of being late, being unemployed did not mean he could be lazy, and besides, as he told himself so often, he needed to earn some money. It was a long three mile walk to the unemployment office, which gave him a lot of time to think, he was trying to remember how long it had been since he had had a job, but as with all his memories it was just a vague picture somewhere in the back of his mind.

After several minutes attempting to warm himself by walking as brisk as he could, he began to notice that the footpath was slowly filling with other people, all huddled up against the cold, they all seemed to be making their way toward the town centre. Every time he saw a young woman he studied her hair, and if he could see it, her face, he had no idea why, but he felt he was missing some vital part of his life and it had something to do with a young woman. Try as he might he could not rid himself of the feeling, yet he didn't even know what she looked like, the mystery woman he always seemed to be searching for.

It had begun to snow when he finally reached the building that he was looking for. slowly pushing open the door he remembered just how long he had been coming here, it was just a month short of two years, Christmas two years ago, that's when he had first stepped foot into this building, he could not remember how he had arrived here, only that he needed to get himself registered for work. As the memory faded he slowly he made his way to the third floor and entered the open plan area of the unemployment office, making his way over to the reception desk he joined the long queue of people, all here for the same reason he was. It was nearly an hour later when he finally reached the clerk.

"Name and address?" she said to him not even looking up.

"Anthony Cobble," he answered, thinking how strange it was to feel that the name he was known by was not right. He always had the same odd feeling when ever he was asked his name; it was like he was saying someone else's name. Shrugging his shoulders, he signed the piece of paper she slid toward him.

"Did you look for any work in the last two weeks, have you tried every thing available?" she enquired still not looking at him.

'Two years and I have never once seen this woman's face, she could at least show just a little interest', he thought as she ticked a few of the little printed squares on the paper in front of her.

"Next," she called as he looked at the black haired top of her head.

He thought of shouting at her just to see if she actually had a face, how could she sit day after day without looking up? Feeling himself getting annoyed at the impersonal attitude of the staff in this place, he turned and stormed away toward the door, he was about to open it when he remembered he needed to check if any new job vacancies had been posted on the notice boards, slowly turning he walked across the room to the nearest notice board.

He had checked all the jobs on offer on all but one notice board, there at the bottom of the last board he read a small card, there was a job on offer just two streets from his flat, it was only as a kitchen helper in a restaurant, no experience required, the pay was low but it offered free a uniform and a free meal while on duty. Taking the number from the card he joined yet another queue. Having finally reached the counter, the man asked for the vacancy number then turned around to collect the print out that came gradually out of an ancient printer behind him, handing it over the man whispered that if he wanted the job he should hurry.

"I've already printed this out seven times this morning, in fact the young lady that was a few minutes in front of you had a copy," the clerk nodded toward the exit door that was now swinging shut.

Grabbing up the form he rushed out of the unemployment office. determined to beat the woman to this job he raced down the stairs, he reached the building exit at the same time as the young woman, she was pulling up the hood on her coat, he noticed it was an old coat and in places frayed, holding the door open for her he saw a glimpse of her face and was suddenly aware that she was the woman of his dreams. Not in the way it usually meant 'the woman of his dreams', no this woman was actually in his dreams.

Night after night, for as long as he could remember, he had been cursed with nightmares, they were not always the same dream, but they all ended with him failing to protect the same young woman, the woman he loved above all things, and each time he failed to save her from some unknown fate. Though he always woke up sweating and shaking, feeling he had let someone down, he could not remember any details of what the dream had been about, he sometimes vaguely remembered the girl he had been trying to save.

She had just looked up saying "Thank you, I…" she stopped in mid sentence and stared at him; a hint of recognition flashed across her face, but then it was gone. He nodded unable to think of anything to say, he was busy trying hard to remember if he had ever dreamt of her name, once again his memory failed him. Pulling up his collar against the now heavily swirling snow, he watched as she walked away from him down the steps to the foot path below.

"Idiot!" he said out loud, getting a strange look from some people that were passing him, "Excuse me miss," he called as she walked away.

She turned her head, staring at him through the falling snow, 'perhaps I do know him' she thought looking carefully at him as he walked over to join her.

"Sorry to bother you, this might sound like a pick up line, but well, I just wondered if we have met before?" he asked, before he suddenly felt foolish, it did sound like a pick up line and a bad one at that.

"That's odd, I just had a similar thought," she told him as they stood in the falling snow, she smiled an odd dreamy smile at him.

For some odd reason, the smile sent a warm glow coursing through his body, as though he had just done something good. She was still smiling at him as he looked down at his feet. He pulled his coat tighter as the cold started to bite at his flesh. He now wished he had bought the winter coat he had seen in the charity shop, thing was he had wanted something to rid him of the hunger pains that he had that day, so he had bought food from the market and left buying the coat for another time.

"I don't know why, but just for a second I felt I knew you," she was saying.

"Shall we walk as we talk?" he asked not wanting to leave her, but also wanting to get his cold feet moving.

She nodded her head indicating the direction she was taking, "I have to go to Queen Mary road; I need to see about a job," she said, "I don't suppose you would know where it is?"

"As a matter of fact I was going to go there myself, I was hoping to beat you to the job," once again he looked down at his worn out shoes.

"Oh I see, so you are out of work too?" she spoke quietly so the people passing could not hear.

"I have been for quite some time, its hard getting work when you have no qualifications, no references, and you don't remember which school you went to," he told her as they began to walk.

After a short polite conversation, which included him giving her directions to Queen Mary road, and a short discussion on how strange that they should have thought they knew each other, they reached a bus stop, she joined the queue and with regret he had to leave her, he had no money to pay for bus rides, he wished her luck with the job hunting, and then reluctantly he turned and began the long walk back to his flat. He could not resist glancing back as he walked away; he had not walked far before the swirling snow cut down the visibility preventing him seeing her. Turning his attention back to the direction he was walking he bowed his head against the wind and snow and started the long walk home.

'You stupid, stupid, fool, idiot, clown, why oh why did I not ask her name, I should have asked where she lived' he thought, mentally kicking himself, he began to slow his pace. He stopped walking so suddenly a woman walking behind him bumped into his back and fell backward with a shriek, he turned around and looked down at the woman sitting in the snow, quickly grabbing her hand and pulling her to her feet, he said sorry then rushed off back the way he had come.

He reached the bus stop just in time to see the first of the people in the queue begin boarding the bus. there she was the woman of his dreams, she was shuffling forward along with the others, reaching out he tapped her lightly on her shoulder, she turned, a sad look was on her face, as soon as she saw him her smile returned.

"I never asked your name," he mumbled, "I mean I know we are strangers and all that, but…" he trailed off not wanting to sound any worse than he already did.

Her face lit up and she offered her hand, taking her hand in his he suddenly had a flash of memory, it was of a young girl in a school uniform taking his hand, then the memory was gone in an instant.

Shaking her hand he announced his name "…Anthony, Anthony Cobble."

"You don't sound so sure about that," she said, she had a mild look of surprise on her face.

"Sorry, I just get the strange feeling it's not really my name, I don't know how to explain it," he looked devastated.

He was convinced he had just scared her off, it was the last thing he wanted to do, it always seemed to happen, when ever he told some one his name, the hesitation in his voice convinced them he was hiding something.

"I know just what you mean, I get the same odd feeling myself, my name is Susan Dressol, at least that's the name I use," she replied.

The sound of the bus moving off brought their attention back to where they were, they both turned to watch as the bus drove away into the slow moving traffic.

"Perhaps we should wait for the next one over in that shop doorway, at least we will be out of the worst of the snow," she suggested to him.

"Yeah, well, I would like that, I can keep you company till it gets here," he said motioning for her to go first.

"I thought you told me that you live near to Queen Mary road," she questioned.

Slightly embarrassed he answered "I do, it's just that I don't have any money for buses, well not till I get my unemployment pay on Thursday." He felt his face turn red as he spoke, he hated being poor, never having enough money, not even enough to look for work, he had to walk every where, which made looking wider afield for a job impossible.

"Well in that case why don't we both walk, we might as well because I have a feeling that this snow is going to cause chaos on the roads, it wont be long before the traffic comes to a standstill," she smiled and led the way from the shop doorway.

He saw it as she stepped out onto the pavement, a car out of control in the snow, was sliding straight toward her, nearby shoppers yelled a warning, but as she tried to get out of the way she slipped and fell, lying in the snow she had no way to avoid being hit. The car then stopped suddenly and for no apparent reason, it was as though it had hit a wall. It was just inches from hitting her; she stared at the number plate that was just two inches from her face. Before she knew what was happening some one was lifting her to her feet, she looked up and saw his face, it was full of fear and concern; his glistening eyes seemed to have a tear in them.

"How…, I…, what happened?" she asked as he steadied her.

They were both shaking, "I thought I was about to lose you, I can't do that, not after years of searching," he whispered almost to himself.

She had an idea that she knew what had happened, she had seen a few strange things in the past year or two, she had started to think that she had some how caused the odd things to happen, they always seemed to happen when she was angry about some thing, but this she knew had nothing to do with her, it was like magic, she realised that some how he had stopped the car from hitting her, how, she was yet to work out, but she was sure she was right. Together they began walking the long three mile to Queen Mary's road, they were both silent for a while.