Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to anything to do with Harry Potter.

Even when you were a senior in your last year at Hogwarts, Hermione thought, fighting off a yawn, as she moved quietly along the schools dark corridors, wand in hand, some rules still applied to you. Such as, no students allowed out of their beds after dark.

It was Hermione's firm belief that rules like that were made to be broken when it involved late night research in the school library, when such research could make the difference in exams. It was another belief of hers that students who got low marks weren't trying hard enough. Certainly no one could accuse Hermione, who had just turned 18, of not trying hard enough.

In her years at Hogwarts she had happily soaked up knowledge like a sponge, both in the effort to prove she had what it took despite her non-wizard heritage, and her genuine love of learning. It was the unspoken belief amongst the teachers that she would go far...

Immersed in her studies she had failed to notice at times that she was growing into a tall, graceful woman. She had kept her hair long out of habit and it now had secret red glints. Her skin was clear and her piercing brown eyes were bright with enthusiasm and health. Her smile, once absently directed at Draco had made him, for one bewildered second, wish to defect to Gryffindor.

Hermione hoped she wouldn't run into any teachers before she reached the safety of her bed – not just because of the inevitable punishment of deducted points, but because there had been too many 'incidents' over the years – that to see a teacher prowling the halls at night was often because they were up to no good.

As the power of He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named had slowly increased over the years, so had the number of people (and often teachers) who had been subverted had grown. These days, that smiling temporary teacher taking over the duties of the Charms teacher while she was sick, could be a spy. A group of exchange students could and sometimes did contain someone seeking weaknesses at Hogwarts.

Living in such times as they all did now made people wary and more inclined to jump at shadows. Even she, who knew many ways to defeat attackers, was keeping a paranoid eye about her as she silently walked along. As she passed a closed door on her left she heard an odd metallic thump, like something heavy being placed on the floor, and the sound of voices. What was that, she wondered.

Curious, Hermione paused to listen by the door…why, she thought in surprise, she could hear Hagrid and some other teachers...

"There yer are sir, it's back, jest like you asked," she heard Hagrid say gruffly, his voice sounding uneasy.

She then heard Professor McGonagall sigh and say, "Thank you Hagrid, you may leave us now."

Hermione quickly jumped back from the door and darted into a nearby alcove she spotted. She was just in time for the door opened, spilling light into the corridor and the giant grounds-keeper lumbered out, shutting the door behind with him with a slam and trudged off down the corridor, failing to see the young student as he muttered, "no good will come of this, jest wait…"

Intrigued now, Hermione crept back to the door and listened.

Professor McGonagall made a tutting sound.

"Really Dumbledore, I cannot think why you've arranged to bring this back. It's a danger to whoever comes in contact with it and you know first hand the trouble it caused in that situation with the Philosopher's Stone."

A wide eyed Hermione heard Professor Dumbledore sigh.

"I share your concern my dear Professor," he said heavily. "Nevertheless, there is good reason to believe Voldemort seeks it for his own evil purposes. The mirrors hiding place had nearly been compromised two times recently and so the only thing left was to bring the mirror back here, where I plan to have it drained of its magic."

What was going on, Hermione wondered. What was a magic mirror doing here, or rather, returned here. A faint memory tugged at her mind but her sleepy mind found it hard to grasp.

Professor McGonagall's voice was sceptical. "Drain it? To cast a draining spell for a mirror such as this would require at least two of our most powerful wizards, if they weren't mesmerised by the mirror itself in the process. Even I am finding it a struggle not to look in it directly."

Dumbledore's voice was firm. "Nevertheless it can – and will be done. However, I

will reveal the details later, for I fear if our prize student just outside presses her ear any closer to the door she will get an earache."

There was a dead silence and Hermione flushed in the dark and silently groaned. Now she was in for it. Nevertheless in chagrin she opened the door and entered the room with a downcast expression.