When Hermione Granger finds herself alone things can easily go from bad to worse. A certain familiar face appears, however is this a source of comfort or a source of terror? The man she thought knew: just who is he?
Who Is He?
The dense canopy of the forest ceiling created an eerie green light and cast long shadows all around. A few pinpricks of light managed to battle their way through the layers of foliage but they were soon lost in the darkness of the forest. There was no wind and everything was silent and still. No birds sang, no leaves rustled, no animals ran amongst the scattered leaves, no water trickled in the brook.
In a moment the silence was broken by a crack and a muffled thump, the sound resonating and vibrating off the large tree trunks, before the forest fell quiet once again.
Suddenly, a small white rabbit darted from out of the ground, its whiskers twitching as it smelled the air. It shook its bobbed tail and ran off into the undergrowth, following a scent until it hit it and stopped. Its nose sniffed around the strange new object that lay stiffly on the floor. The rabbit wondered whether it was food.
Without warning the 'food' shuddered and the rabbit took off in a white blur.
The hand that the nose had been sniffing at moved, fingers curling one at a time, bending and straightening. The hand of which those fingers were attached flexed also, moving in a slow circle. A neck moved stiffly, tendons stretching like vines beneath white skin. Cracked lips parted slightly, tasting the stale forest air. Fawn eyes opened, pupils dilating into black orbs, then closed again. The body slumped amongst the dry leaves and Hermione Granger fall back to the clutches of unconsciousness.
The girl woke with a start, her eyes snapping open. At first she thought that she was blind as all she could make out was a thick darkness, however slowly her eyes adjusted so that she could make out darker shadows in the black. She tried to sit up but let out a gasp of pain and a hand flew to her abdomen. With an great effort though she managed to role over and crawl her way over to a large tree trunk, collapsing against it, her back to the cold, damp bark.
An almost animal wail filled the night as the weight of the situation that the girl was in came crashing down on her and she let out a startling cry of sorrow. She was lost. She was alone. She tried to remember how she came to be in this place.
A gooey mess of white and yellow slime had managed to stick itself to the bottom of the frying pan which was being stared at intensely by one red headed boy.
"Honestly, I don't know what I did wrong!" he spoke seriously, still trying to work out what had happened to the egg he had been trying to cook. "When Mum does it she makes it look so easy, Just crack, plop, Bob's your uncle, here's your breakfast".
Hermione tried to stifle a laugh at the look on her best friends face. Coming over to where he sat she muttered "Scourgify", pointing her wand at the mess that quivered in the frying pan, until the last remnants of its had disappeared. "Budge up", she spoke, moving to sit down next to the boy and softly elbowing him in the ribs until he scooted over on the fallen tree trunk.
Levitating one of the few remaining eggs that they had found to her, she took it in one hand, neatly cracked it and upended it so that it formed a perfect white circle with a perfect yellow sun sitting at its centre.
"What would we do without you hey 'Mi' the boy smiled, his eyes lingering on her for just a moment longer than a friend might expect.
"Oh Ronald," she joked back "you would probably have starved to death by now, forget you-know-who, I think salmonella is more of a threat!". They both laughed, letting the sun fall on their faces, a rare moment of pleasure in the dark times. Their arms touched and both felt absurdly content.
Ron's face turned slowly towards Hermione and he looked as though he were about to lean in and close the distance but he suddenly seemed to think better of it and stood up quickly. "I'd better go and get some more firewood you know, might get cold tonight", he laughed nervously and moved off into the forest. Hermione frowned when she looked at the pile of wood which was piled next to the tent which Ron had gathered just the evening before, but smiled over her bumbling friend. She wondered if he would ever pluck up the courage to kiss her.
She was still smiling when there was a low howl only a few feet away. Immediately she stood, her wand in hand, ready and pointing at the trees. She heard the flaps of the tent swing quickly open behind her and she know that Harry Potter now stood behind her, also scanning around to see where the noise had come from.
There was the crack of a branch, breaking underneath a heavy footfall, and both witch and wizard turned sharply to meet the sound. At first they could see nothing, until suddenly the red hair of Ron could be seen. His friends could only look on it horror as they noticed the sharp grey blade at his throat and the hand behind him that pushed him forward. His neck was tilted back at a sharp angle, trying to back away from the knife blade, but his eyes tried to find his friends, trying to warn them.
"Now now little children, I think you should lower your wands don't you? We wouldn't want this poor little fox cub here to end up being fed to the wolves now would we?", a dirty voice cooed from behind Ron, using the boy as a shield.
Harry and Hermione both brought their wands to the ground, placing them onto the floor and stepping backwards with both palms raised. The man laughed, a malicious and taunting sound which echoed around the clearing in which they stood.
Without warning more laughs filled the air from all sides and Harry and Hermione whipped their heads around to see where the sounds came from. They both shivered involuntarily with fear when they saw that through the gaps in the trees there stood blackly clad men, each carrying knives and heavy hammers which they swung in their hands. Their hands and faces were dirty, their clothes ragged in some places. Snatchers.
The man that stood behind Ron stepped forward so that he stood next to him, yet the knife at Ron's throat didn't move. His hair was a dark black and hung in lanky tendrils to his shoulders. He wore black like the rest of his men but his clothes looked more expensive, although still covered in dirt and filth. Hermione could smell him from where she stood.
Their captor's face broke into a crooked smile as he eyed the two people in front of him. "You", he pointed a grubby finger at Harry, "are going to make me a very rich man indeed", he sneered, his face contorting even more into a hideous mask of putrid disgust. "Men; grab them", he cried.
Harry launched a kick at the ground, spraying soil over the man's face and in his eyes. He coughed and spluttered, backing away and releasing his hold on Ron. Both Hermione and Harry rushed forward to pick up their wands, turning to fire spells at the advancing men who had now dropped their weapons and pulled out wands.
"Petrificus Totalus" Hermione shouted, her wand aimed at a large man who fell over onto his face as a result of the body bind curse. They had created a gap in their circle of advancing captors and all three made a run for it, jumping over a fallen log that stood in their way, running for their lives, feet pounding hard against the earth.
"After them!", the leader screamed, his eyes red and raw. The remaining Snatchers launched themselves after the three teenagers, firing spell between the trees. Some rebounded and caught their makers so that they were cursed by their own spell, but some managed to find the gaps. "We need to apparate!" Hermione yelled, shouting to the boys either side of her who were not quite close enough for her to reach out and apparate with.
They ran forward still, trying to meet together. Hermione reached out a hand to grab both boys, her finger skimming there's when suddenly there was an excruciating pain all over her body. She fell backward from the spell, but it was too late, she had already begun to apparate before the spell had hit her. She felt herself being sucked into the void and was still imagining the forest when she landed in another. The pain burned all over and the green light faded into blackness before she lost all consciousness, alone and forsaken on the ancient forest floor.
Hermione sobbed to herself as she realised that there was no way of finding her friends again, her shoulders racking with the weight of those sobs. Finally she appeared to tire herself out as her eyes closed and her head fell back against the trunk on which she rested. One hand clutched tightly at her wand, the other at her midriff as she slept.
Hermione's eyes flicked open, trying to look around her in vain. It was still dark and not a sound could be heard, yet Hermione had woken. She had felt someone, something, staring at her in the dark.
Her fingers curled tightly around her wand, her knuckles white. She considered lighting the tip of her wand with the lumos spell but held back, mostly out of fear for what she would see if she did.
Still the forest remained silent but now, awake, she could feel a set of eyes on her more than ever. It was as if they were bearing into her side. She could have screamed but the panic that coursed through her body paralysed her. It was then she realised that it was not just the fear, she literally couldn't move. Whatever spell it was that she had been hit with had done something to her, something bad. She could feel the dried blood that crusted on her hands.
Hermione's head snapped to her right side as she heard a branch snap underfoot, only metres away. The bubble popped and the scream which she had been holding let loose, a piercing cry that shattered the silence of the forest.
The sound of heavy footsteps moved quickly towards her now, their owner not bothering to conceal his presence any longer now than he had been found. Hermione tried to shuffle away from the sound, thankful that her eyes had not yet adjusted to the darkness, terrified of what, or who, approached her.
She groaned as hot breath, stale and sour raked across her skin.
"Hello little girl" a guttural voice sounded at her ear, rough and rasping. "Come play with the big bad wolf".
It was too much for Hermione and the world shut down around her.
So I know no Snape in this chapter but much more to come, I promise! Please let me know what you think, reviews make me terribly happy.