Disclaimer: I don't own anything to do with Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling does.

A/N: My first novel length fanfic. Starts after "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" and the Horcruxes are just a back ground topic. Please Enjoy and please Read & Review!

Rays of Moonlight

A seventeen, almost eighteen, year old witch slowly trudged through the dimly lit woods with her hands shoved deep into her jean pockets, her shoulders slumped. Her brown, curly hair (once extremely bushy and frizzy) swayed along with her slow steps. Her chocolate brown eyes, so full of sadness and worry, were staring at her feet the entire time, never looking up.

It had been about a week sense the funeral for their beloved Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, who was ruthlessly murdered by their former Potions Professor Severus Snape. The days before the funeral were spent trying to put Hogwarts into better shape after the battle that had taken place.

Hermione thought about the funeral and stopped abruptly, closed her eyes, and let tears start to slide down her face for the hundredth time since the night it happened. She had always hated to cry, but these days, she couldn't do anything but. She stood there, taking deep breaths until got her tears under control.

Sliver moonlight lit up her face as the clouds moved out of the way, revealing a calm, bright full moon. Hermione looked up at the moon and a small smile appeared on her face. The moon had always calmed her, even as a young child. She stared at the moon until more clouds moved to cover it, the fading light taking her peacefulness with it, leaving darkness surrounding her.

She sighed. I should probably get home soon, she thought. She looked down at her watch, finding that it was pasted 1 o'clock. She turned and started to head back, thinking of how Harry, the Weasleys, the Order, and Hogwarts were doing without the humble guidance of Dumbledore.

Hermione started the walk back to her safe, warm house, occasionally stumbling over a rock or fallen branch, but she never fell, thankfully. Behind her, the moon was starting to peak out from behind the looming clouds. Rays of silver moonlight were starting to dimly light the path in front of Hermione.

CRACK!

Hermione turned with surprising agility, her wand pointing at the space where she had heard a branch break. It's just your imagination, she thought. You just a little tired and stressed is all. Just keep walking. Hermione let a quiet laugh escape her mouth, caused from her foolishness and fear. She was a Gyffindor! Considering all she had been through, she shouldn't be scared of a branch breaking.

She walked on, her path now fully lit by the moon behind her. Her heart was still beating wildly, but she steadied her breath and continued her trek back to her house.

CRACK! SNAP!

Hermione started to walk a little faster, almost at a jogging pace.

CRACK! SNAP! CRACK! GROWL!

It sounded as though something was running towards her from behind. She broke into a run, now hearing panting, growling, and the scrapping of dagger-like claws on rock. Her breath was now coming in heavy, painful gasped and she desperately grabbed hold of her wand, which was sticking out of her pocket. She turned with her wand in hand, prepared to fight, just in time to see a gigantic mass lunge at her, snarling.