" Come on, Hermione! " Exclaimed Ginny. " We're gonna miss the train! "
" Oh, alright, then! " Hermione threw up her hands in exasperation.
She spun the cart around to face the barrier between platforms nine and ten. This was always her least favorite part of getting to Hogwarts. She held her breath and squeezed her eyes shut as she followed Ginny through.
She could finally breath again as they reached the crowded platform. Billows of white smoke drifted from the huge scarlett engine hat sat idlely waiting for students to board. All around, on every side, familiar faces smiled through the haze. Owls, rats, and other animals peered from cages as they passed.
Hermione took a deep, relaxing breath. She was going home. She was sure that everybody else felt similarly, but Hogwarts was her favorite place in the world. Every year, she got on that train dreaming of what she would learn next.
" Hermione! " Ron's voice carried across the crowd, as he stood on his toes to see over people's heads.
Smiling, with Harry at his side, he wove his way through the throng. His bright orange hair standing out from the rest of the browns and blacks and blondes.
" Ron! Harry! " She grinned widely, throwing her arms around them both in an enthusiastic embrace.
" Did you hear who the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher will be this year? " Harry asked casually, as they boarded the train.
" No. " Hermione glanced back at him, suspiciously. " Why, have you? "
" Uh, no. " I was just wondering. " He said with a sheepish grin.
The small compartments were filling quickly with students and luggage, so the trio filed farther and farther toward the back of the train. Finally, with a sigh, Hermione slid open a nearly empty compartment. There was only one other person inside, and he was asleep.
" There's no other place to sit, Ron. " Hermione said, disapprovingly, when he started to groan.
" Who is he anyway? " Ron asked, sitting down sulkily.
The man was tall and thin, with a thatch of light brown hair that fell into his eyes as he slept. He looked young and vunerable, all lines and wrinkles of stress smoothed out by sleep.
" He's Professor Remus J Lupin. " Hermione said, matter-of-factly. " He's the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. "
" Jeez, Hermione, how did you figure all that? " Ron asked, in shock.
" I pay attention, " She said scathy, glaring at him. Then she added, pointing up, " And it's on his suitcase. "
Suddenly, the train lurched to a stop, nearly throwing them from their seats. Slowly, a chill filled the air and Hermione could see her breath turn to white mist in front of her. The rasping sound of breathing came from the other side of the sliding door. The cold had become nearly unbearable and she felt as though her throat was closing up making it hard to breath. The cold carried a horrible sadness with it.
The door began to slid open and a cloaked, floating figure stood outside, reaching a disgusting, decaying hand toward them. Out of the corner of her eye, Hermione could see movement. Quick and purposeful. The new professor was on his feet, pointing his wand at the decaying, floating creature.
" Expecto Patronum! " A burt of silver light and warmth filled the room, as the shape flew at the creature. Forcing it back and out of the compartment.
" Are you alright? " Came a quiet, urgent voice somewhere close to her while she sucked in breath after grateful breath. When she didn't answer at first, he repeated himself. " Are you alright.
Hermione nodded. He took her hands between his own and began to rub them together, warming them. She felt heat rush to her face as she looked up at him. He was staring intently down into her eyes. She told herself it was just to make sure she was alright but that didn't stop her heart from racing irratically. Finally, he let go of her hands and turned to Harry, who had fainted when the creature had tried to get in. He was just coming around when Professor Lupin reached him.
" Here, take this. " He handed them each something small and dark. A piece of chocolate. " That, was a Dementor. They usually gaurd Askaban, but they are searching for Sirius Black. "
" The escaped murderer! " Ron exclaimed around a mouth full of chocolate.
" The very same. " He answered, looking straight into Hermione's wide eyes.