June 1943

Tirana, Albania

He'd been spying on the boy.

At first, it had seemed harmless—just another ignorant soul scouring the forests for Ravenclaw's diadem. But it soon became clear that this new boy was anything but harmless. Day and night, for two months straight, Gellert Grindelwald watched him searching in vain for the diadem. He'd used powerful Disillusionment Charms and untraceable spells to cover his tracks.

This would have caught Grindelwald's attention regardless, but his curiosity was piqued even more when he discovered the boy radiated Dark Magic. He was young but powerful, casting the Cruciatus curse on unsuspecting animals and using Imperio on local Muggles.

Grindelwald had every intention to reveal himself and make the strange boy an offer he couldn't refuse, until Dumbledore had gotten in the way. He was watching the boy too. Gellert was forced to retreat back into the shadows and observe from afar. However, he had one advantage neither Dumbledore nor the boy was aware of—he'd stolen the diadem. Gellert had no personal use for it, but possessing it was crucial, for it would be near-catastrophic if Dumbledore were ever to get his hands on it. And Gellert knew that was the headmaster's wish.

For the mysterious boy with the English accent and the dark aura was more than just a highly intelligent student: he was very, very ill. Grindelwald had watched him collapse countless times, watched his features wane and his cheeks hollow. He was undeniably searching for the diadem's healing properties.

That was when a wonderful idea occurred to Gellert: this boy would do anything for the diadem. Anything. And he attended the very school that Gellert planned to take over next.

His mind became more vulnerable when he was in the throes of the curse. Gellert took advantage of this and probed through memories until he found something useful. A recurring pattern in his thoughts was the image of a girl, roughly his age, with curly dark hair and grey eyes.

There is always a girl, Gellert had thought scathingly. Well, at least this will make things much smoother.

She would be his pawn. Girls betrayed others easily, and it surely wouldn't take much for this one to break. After she was done with, Gellert would have all the information he needed in order to tempt the cursed boy to him. He would be so desperate to be cured that he would essentially lead Grindelwald right to Hogwarts' weakest point.

When Hogwarts fell, taking over the rest of Britain would be swift and efficient. Then Gellert Grindelwald would be the undisputed master of the wizarding world and Dumbledore would be dead—all because of a dying boy and his pawn.

It was laughable, really. Gellert didn't have to use complicated curses or a mass army like he'd done with Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. No, this was much simpler.

He would bring Hogwarts crumbling down from within.

Wow, guys. A year and four months later...this humble little fic was first published sixteen months ago. I didn't expect one hundred reviews, let alone eight hundred. Every single one of you is amazing-even those who just alerted/favourited and never reviewed. Thank you for sticking with me to the end.

I actually started writing this in July 2009, when I was fourteen years old. Chapters 1-11 were written at that time, after which I took a break and stopped until June 2010. (You might have noticed a change in the writing style between "Dylan's Secret" and "Unfortunate News"...if so, the reason is because they were written eleven months apart). I finally mustered up the nerve to publish this two months later, and I'm eternally grateful I did. I never imagined this response.

Now I'm sixteen...well, at least for another few days. I updated this as a sort of "happy birthday to me". :)

I promised myself that in my very last author's note I would make up a list of fun facts about this fic. Some are answers to reviews I've gotten where the reviewer disabled their PM so I couldn't respond to them. I hope they all read this.

1. An Exquisite Pain wasn't meant to end this way. 'Tis true. I originally NEVER planned for Danielle to go back to the future. That was only decided after I had a dream in which the ending you just read occurred.

2. Tom was supposed to fall in love sooner. Indeed he was. In my first draft, he was "courting" Danielle in March 1943. This was eventually scratched after I realized it would be too soon.

3. Danielle kissed Tom instead of Billy at the New Year's Eve party. Again, this was in my first draft and I changed it for the same reason.

4. William never existed. Danielle's nightmares were initially supposed to be just the product of an overactive imagination, but later I got to thinking "What if he really was real?"

5. Wuthering Heights was meant to play a bigger role. Yes, I wanted the novel to be more than just a book Danielle read and liked. In the planning stages, she had mild feelings for Dylan and they began a romantic relationship (Cathy and Linton) while a jealous Tom uses Alyssa to make Danielle jealous (Isabella and Heathcliff). This ultimately did not fit in once I started writing, and it was scrapped.

Gosh, this a long author's note, isn't it? Well, I think I'm nearly done. The last thing: THERE WILL BE A SEQUEL, because I just could not clear everything up in one fic. I would rather have two stories with forty chapters and a hundred and fifty thousand words than one huge fic with eighty chapters and three hundred thousand words. It might scare people away.

So...the sequel will be called Dancing With Time and I've nearly finished the prologue. It should be up before Christmas.

Again...thank you so much, everyone, from the bottom of my heart. I give all of you a virtual cookie and hug.