I'm here again! It's been almost a year since I started publishing 'Those Four Last Days of the War'. Those of you who loved that story, I hope you love this one as well. Those of you who didn't, well, I hope you like this one better.

I'm very glad to be back as a writer, because I feel that lately the number of new R/Hr fanfics is decreasing. Authors out there, don't let this fandom die, okay? I think a part of me (of us all) would die with it.

As I did with TFLDotW, I completed it before posting it. I'm just revising the final chapters. If you want to know, yes, it's longer than TFLDotW.

This story follows DH, except for the Epilogue. It starts seven years after the end of the war, in November, 2005.

As you see, this is rated M. There is sex in here, yes, and, at some points, very intense (and sometimes graphic) violence. So if this is not your thing, I'd suggest you to leave. If you keep reading, expect romance, mystery, a little humour, and lots of drama.

Just for you to know, the story is split in three parts. The first is the longest. As with TFLDotW, my intention is to post every 2-4 days, except between parts. I plan to leave you hanging for a week or so in those cases.

Like last year, I have my holidays in August, so I may update a bit slower from the 6th to the 26th, but still, expect, at least, a chapter every week (probably more).

I want to thank Kathy (ObsessedRHShipper) for her wonderful work, not only as my beta, but in other fics I love. One day we will build you a monument.

This story is mainly dedicated to three people:

-My girlfriend, for being my inspiration in love and for dealing with my Harry Potter obsession.

-Livi, for being a lovely insufferable little sister.

-And Romina, for being a wonderful friend in the distance and ... well, just for being you, which is the best compliment I can give.

Enjoy the journey.



Chapter 1

A Tale of Love and Hate


Still shocked and acting more due to instinct than actual thinking, Hermione threw herself behind the couch, and just a moment later she felt the curse soar above her and hit one of the shelves, shattering it to pieces and causing a lot of books and photograph frames to scatter on the floor.

This could not be happening. It was impossible.

Gripping her wand tightly, she rose until she could look at the entrance of her house over the back of the couch. With almost no time to prepare herself or to aim, she moved her wand and yelled, "Stupefy!" Three of the men threw themselves to one side, but the fourth cast a quick Shield Charm and blocked the spell.

"Ah, the Mudblood likes to play! Don't you, bitch?" the man asked with a sneer. Then, he slashed his wand angrily and shot a curse that set the couch on fire. Screaming, Hermione jumped backwards, barely escaping the sudden, hungry flames; but, at the same time, she managed to throw another strong hex at the man, and this time he had to move to the side to dodge it.

Thinking as fast as she was able, she weighed her options and realised that she was not going to be able to beat the four of them in a clear space like the living room. Without the couch she had nowhere to hide, so she had to gain some time and seek refuge in another room where she could defend herself better.

"Fumus!" she yelled, pointing at the entrance, where the three men that had thrown themselves onto the floor seconds before were getting up, ready to attack her. Instantly, something like a ball of black smoke flew quickly from the tip of her wand towards the entrance, where it suddenly expanded, making her enemies cough and blinding them.

She knew that her chances of reaching the kitchen and the back door that lead to the garden were slim. So she ran, as fast as she could, towards the stairs leading to the second floor and started to climb them, quickly casting a Shield Charm to protect herself from the curses flying from inside the expanding smoke-filled zone in the living room.

"GET HER!" she heard one of the men yell between coughs. Trying to control her fears, she sped up and, at the instant she reached the top of the stairs, spun around and shot a Blasting Curse.

She heard her attackers let out a scream of terror just before the spell collided with the floor, causing an immediate explosion that shook the entire house. She saw one of the men fly through the air due to the force of the blast, then hit a wall with tremendous force and finally crumple onto the floor, unconscious or dead. And the sight caused her to feel a strange satisfaction she hadn't felt ever before. However, she didn't stop to see if she had injured or killed the others, but ran towards her bedroom. It was at the end of the corridor and she would have an unobstructed view of it from there. Besides, the narrowness of the hallway would annul the numeric advantage of the dark wizards attacking her.

Once there, the first thing she did was to try to Disapparate to the Burrow. She couldn't, however, and realised that the Death Eaters must have put the Anti-Disapparition Jinx on the house. She was trapped — trapped inside her own home, inside the place where she should feel the safest.

She almost closed the door, leaving just a tiny gap from which she could peek into the corridor and throw any spell she needed to protect herself. Still terribly frightened, she tried to compose herself and think straight about what was happening and how she was going to get out of this mess.

A group of what looked like Death Eaters had trapped her in her own house. How was that possible? The war had ended seven years ago. The Death Eaters were in prison; Ron, Harry and Neville had seen to that. Things like this were not supposed to happen anymore. Besides, how had the Death Eaters broken into her house? She and Ron together had put so many protective charms around it Voldemort himself would have had trouble breaking them. And yet, she had been caught completely by surprise, and only her good reflexes, quick spell-casting and all the training she had got during her years at Hogwarts and the time on the run with Ron and Harry had saved her.

"Find her!" she heard one of the Death Eaters yell downstairs. It was the same one that had tried to burn her alive. He seemed to be their leader.

"How's Pucey?" she heard another of them ask.

"That isn't important!" the leader yelled. "We have to get her before Weasley and Potter come here! That's our mission and it is the only thing that matters!"

Mission? thought Hermione. So this wasn't just an attempt to get revenge on her for what she had done during the war? This was a plan made by someone?

She stopped thinking about that when she heard footsteps at the top of the stairs. Quickly, she looked through the doorway and shot another Blasting Curse down the corridor. One of the Death Eaters was already on the second floor, opening the door that led to the bathroom. He spun rapidly upon hearing the incantation, and tried to block the curse. He achieved it, but only partially, so the streak was deviated and instead of hitting him, it hit the wall near the bathroom door. The force of the explosion destroyed the wall and sent him towards the staircase, where he collided with a second Death Eater who was climbing up and both of them fell crashing down the stairs, cursing and yelling in pain.

Hermione frowned in concentration. She had never, ever wanted to kill anybody. Even during the days of the war, even during the battle of Hogwarts, she had never attempted to take a life, but things were completely different now. Things had changed and, if she had to, she would do it; she would kill without hesitation. These men didn't know what she was capable of now.

She would do anything — anything! — to protect the life that was growing inside her, that little being she and Ron had created with their love. They both had fought so much to get the life they now had, to have their own family, to ensure the safety and happiness of their future children, and she was not going to give that up without a fight.

Unable to prevent it, she found herself reliving that time, almost two months ago, when she had told Ron that they were going to be parents. For just a moment, she saw Ron's shocked expression, filled with incredulity. She remembered the way he had said, in a hoarse, low and trembling voice, "I — I am going to be a dad? Me? I mean —we are going to have a child?" And she had nodded, feeling a bit unsure, but just a moment later, the most amazing smile had filled his face completely, making him almost glow with happiness. And then he had run at her and had embraced and spun her around in the air, both laughing hysterically, before he had taken her to their bedroom, where he had made love to her sweetly and passionately at the same time, causing her to burst with pleasure and happiness.

She had never felt more complete.

She blinked several times, forcing herself to forget that and focus on the problem at hand. She had fought so much to have what she now had, and she was not going to let some bastards take it from her. She just needed to keep them at bay until Ron got home. He had to be about to arrive and —

Her face filled with an expression of sheer terror.

He would enter the house carelessly, and the moment he did, he would be a clear target to several Death Eaters. She needed to warn him, to tell him to come home and to bring help, but how? Pig was in his cage, downstairs. How was she going to —?

She opened her eyes wide, almost slapping herself inwardly. How could she have forgotten? Her Patronus!

Looking once more through the door to be sure the Death Eaters had not tried to climb up the stairs again, she raised her wand.

"Expecto Pat—"

A terrible explosion shook the house, and she felt the floor under her crumble and fall, taking her with it. She fell on her back, hard, over split pieces of wood, screaming in pain when they pricked her flesh and cut her skin. Several pieces of wood and other rubble fell on her. Instinctively, she put her arms around her belly to protect her baby, and then she realised she had lost her wand during her fall. It must be hidden among the debris that covered the floor, but where? She was immobile and hurt, and without the wand, defenceless.

She looked around, trying to find it despite the pain, coughing due to the dust that filled the air, and noticed she had fallen into the study, which was located just under the master bedroom. Opening her eyes wide in terror, she noticed she had fallen just two feet from her desk. Had she been a few feet into the bedroom instead of next to the door, she would have fallen on it and, most surely, would have broken her neck or her spine.

"Look at you," said a contemptuous voice then, drawing her attention. She turned her head quickly and looked towards the doorway, or to where the doorway had been, because part of that wall was now destroyed. Through the dissipating dust that filled the air, she saw the leader of the Death Eaters, who was watching her with evident hate and no less evident pleasure. Behind him, she could see the two men that had fallen down the stairs. They had some injuries, but looked way healthier than she. Hermione could appreciate that they were in their twenties, like her, but couldn't tell whether she had seen them at Hogwarts or not. They had dirty hair and yellow teeth and their faces were covered with stubble, making them look like the type of dark wizards that used to lurk in Knockturn Alley in darker times. The leader, on the other hand, was clearly in his thirties, maybe near his forties, but looked much more respectable and wealthier. His robes seemed more expensive, and his hair was clean and neat. It was also very short, a feature that accentuated in a negative way the roughness of his square face, which was completely shaven. He was a bit taller than his subordinates, though he was thinner. But what really drew Hermione attention was his dark eyes, cold and filled with hate.

He moved forwards until he stood in front of her, and Hermione tried to move backwards, something that only caused her more pain. He let out a small and humourless laugh, and then pointed his wand at her.

"Crucio!" he yelled, and immediately she felt a surge of pain she hadn't experienced since that horrible day in Malfoy Manor, more than six years ago. But back then Harry and Ron had saved her ... and now she was alone.

After thirty agonising seconds, the man lifted the curse. She started to sob almost immediately, though not just because of the pain. What would this curse do to her child?

"Please, please, stop —" she begged, trying again to get away from her torturers.

The three Death Eaters watched her move across the floor of the room, a room that was the largest of the house, what with all the books she had, and laughed cruelly.

"D'you like it, Mudblood?" one of the other men said, sneering. "You almost killed me, but don't worry, you'll regret it. We'll teach you your proper place before doing you in. You'll learn to beg and plead; be sure of it."

She closed her eyes in pain. Mudblood. How long it had been since anyone had called her that! They — Harry, Ron and she, alongside many others — had fought so hard, during the war and afterwards, at the Ministry, to eradicate all those prejudices, and it had been for nothing. There was still so much hate; she only had to look at these men's faces to see it. Hate never ended, it seemed. Hate was eternal.

Moaning, she tried to slither backwards across the floor. The only thing that mattered was getting away from these men.

"Where do you think you're going?" the leader asked, moving towards her slowly, followed by the other two. "There's no escape for you. You can't Disapparate. You put up a good fight; yes, I admit it. But now you're disarmed, you pathetic creature."

"Ron and Harry will catch you, and they'll kill you, wherever you are," she said, feeling tears well up in her eyes. It hurt just to think about them, knowing that, probably, she wouldn't see them ever again.

To her surprise, the leader laughed, and nodded towards one of the others, who smiled cruelly and, approaching her, kicked her hard in her stomach.

The pain made Hermione bend over on the floor and scream like mad. She put her arms around her belly and curled, trying to protect her unborn child.

"PLEASE!" she yelled desperately. "PLEASE, NO!"

The man laughed again and threw another kick at her, with even more force than the first time. His boot collided with her forearms, breaking the right one. She winced in pain, but even so she didn't move them away. She had to protect her child - her and Ron's child. That was the only thing that mattered.

"Weasley is going to get us, Mudblood?" the leader asked, half-laughing with obvious pleasure at her pain and suffering. "Do you think he'll be able to do anything when he finds out that his wife and child are gone?"

Oh, Merlin! They knew that she was pregnant! But — how? They had only informed the family; no one else knew. How had these men found out?

"PLEASE, my child!" she begged, crying. "My child, please."

"Please what, Mudblood?" the man who had kicked her asked. "Come on, beg! Good to see you've learnt your proper place! Beg, you Muggle whore!"

"Please ..." she said, knowing that it was useless, that she was just giving them what they wanted, the pleasure of seeing her, a war hero, a Muggleborn, a Mudblood, begging, before actually killing her. But she had to beg; she had to do it for her child. Her pride was nothing compared to that.

Please, Ron, she thought desperately. Please, help me. Please, come home and help me and our child. Please, Ron.

"Please what, Mudblood?" the man repeated, becoming impatient. "Tell us. Tell us what you want," he encouraged in a fake caring tone that was just another way of mocking her.

"Please ... don't kill my child. Hasn't done anything. It is innocent. Please."

"'Hasn't done anything'?" repeated the leader in a soft voice. It was as if he couldn't believe she didn't understand their reasons to do what they were doing. "Do you think that being the offspring of a Mudblood and a Blood traitor is not enough? Isn't there a Muggle saying that goes something like, 'the sons will bear the sins of the parents?'"

"Please ..." was the only thing she could reply.

"Say goodbye, Mudblood," the leader said, pointing his wand at her. "Say it now, because for the next few minutes the only sounds that'll escape your mouth are going to be screams. And after that, you'll be gone for good. This will show you bunch of pathetic heroes, that despite your victory seven years ago, you didn't win the war. You can never win."

Hermione tried to prepare herself for the pain she was going to experience, when, suddenly, she sensed some change in the room. It wasn't a sound, or a smell, or even something that could be perceived in the air.

She could have sworn that she had felt it in her soul.

Her eyes snapped open, and, not knowing why, she looked past the semicircle of men surrounding her, at the shelves in the other end of the room, and she saw it.

Four yards behind the Death Eater's leader, a figure covered entirely in a black cloak was standing, completely still, next to one of the shelves, and, apparently, none of her attackers had noticed his presence, though she couldn't understand how that was possible. The person under the cloak couldn't have walked into the room without the Death Eaters hearing them, and it was impossible to Apparate or Disapparate into the house. And even if it was possible, they would have heard the noise, wouldn't they?

But the truth was that the three men were oblivious to that presence, and, with a cruel smile and his eyes gleaming with pleasure and hate, the leader of the group started to say, "Cru—!"

"I think that's enough, you sick bastards," the cloaked figure said, interrupting him at once. With a start, the three Death Eaters wheeled around and faced the man, instinctively pointing their wands at him.

"Who the hell are you!" the leader asked menacingly, though, Hermione realised, he seemed worried about this sudden presence they had failed to notice. "How did you get in here?"

The man didn't answer. Instead, he simply gave a few steps towards the Death Eaters at a slow pace. Hermione observed him for a moment, bewildered, before regaining her senses and realising that she had to use this distraction to her advantage. Trying to ignore the pain in her back, her legs and her arms and the sharp pains she felt in her abdomen, she glided slowly over the floor. She had to try and find her wand —

"Don't move!" she heard the man who had kicked her tell the cloaked stranger.

But he didn't stop, instead he continued walking very slowly towards them.

"Stupefy!" the Death Eater yelled without more warnings. Hermione stopped, frozen, and watched the red streak of light soar towards the cloaked man, suddenly feeling as if the time had expanded, or become incredibly slow, because it was as if everything was happening in slow motion.

The cloaked man didn't even flinch when he heard the Death Eater mutter the spell and saw it flying towards him. It hit him squarely in the chest, and Hermione exhaled a sigh, expecting to see him fall onto the floor. But, to her immense surprise, nothing happened. The cloaked man didn't even stagger; it was as if nothing had hit him at all. Completely shocked, the Death Eater that had thrown the spell started to say, "What the hell?" but couldn't complete the sentence. Moving like a lightning bolt, the stranger grabbed the front of the Death Eater robes and, with unbelievable easiness, threw him towards the farthest wall with astounding force. Hermione saw his body soar through the air at great speed and then hit the wall with a loud 'THUD' before crumpling onto the floor, unconscious.

The other Death Eaters took a step back, shocked by the stranger's speed and how the events had turned against them, and both shot two Killing Curses against their enemy. But — again, with astonishing agility — he dodged them with a graceful move. At the same time, he moved his left hand, with its palm flat out, towards the other henchman. He didn't even touch him, but the Death Eater was suddenly thrown backwards with such force he could have been struck by a Muggle truck. He hit a shelf, shattering it completely, and dropped onto the floor under a pile of books and pieces of wood.

Seeing that, the leader of the Death Eaters retreated, now visibly scared, as he threw sideway glances, obviously looking for a way to escape.

"Who are you?" he asked, frightened. "What are you?"

"I am your worst nightmare," the cloaked man said, a hint of rage in his voice, and advanced upon him.

The Death Eater gave two more steps backwards and then spun around quickly, trying to make his escape through the half-demolished wall of the study.

The cloaked man didn't even attempt to catch him. He simply raised his left hand, outstretched his arm a bit towards the Death Eater and then clenched his fist as if grabbing something.

At the same moment, the Death Eater froze on the spot, as held by a powerful and invisible force. Hermione saw his eyes become the size of saucers and then he opened his mouth, as if he wanted to let out a scream that never came, and then dropped unceremoniously onto the floor like his accomplices.

Feeling an extraordinarily comforting and yet draining relief, Hermione lay on the floor and started to sob. She had been able to ignore it during the amazing and unbelievably short battle between the cloaked man and the Death Eaters, but now she could feel again the pain in her body, especially her abdomen. Her right forearm hurt like hell, too, but, despite that, she put them both protectively over her belly.

"My baby ..." she cried, praying. "My baby ..."

"You'll be fine," she heard the stranger say.

She opened her eyes and saw that he had crouched down right beside her. His voice was now more tender and softer, even caring. There was something familiar in it, and yet she couldn't recognise it.

"It hurts," Hermione moaned. "Please, I need help. You have to call St. Mungo's. I am pregnant and they kicked me in the abdomen. I think I might be suffering a miscarriage." The simple act of saying that word out loud made her feel sick.

"I know," the man said. "But you don't have to worry; everything will be okay, Hermione. I promise."

"How —?" she started to ask, but stopped mid-sentence when she felt the man put his right hand, covered by a leather glove, over her stomach. An instant later, she felt an odd warmth spread through her body, and, almost immediately, the sharp pains stopped. Astonished, she saw him move his hand towards her broken forearm next, and when he touched it the pain there disappeared as well.

"What did you —?" she started to ask, amazed. "How —?"

"It doesn't matter," he said. "You're all right now. Your baby is all right, Hermione. You daughter is perfectly fine; don't worry."

"Daughter?" she asked, taken aback. She didn't know the sex of the baby. They hadn't asked. "How do you know it is a girl?"

"I know," was the only answer, and she could almost feel a smile on his hidden face. "You don't have to worry; you're safe now. Harry and Ron are on their way; they'll be here soon. Right now, you just need to rest."

"Rest?" she repeated. "No! I need to know — who are you? What's your name?" she asked. Even though she didn't understand how, she felt that the cloaked man was right, and that her child was going to be all right. And with that worry out of her mind, she felt her curiosity about the stranger grow.

"I'm ... a friend," he said. He made a pause, and, though she could not see his features, she was suddenly sure that, under the hood, the expression on his face had saddened. "Things are not going to be easy, Hermione. Terrible things are about to happen." He made another tiny pause, but, before she could say anything, he added, in a strangely gloomy tone, "You don't know how much I wish things were different, but they aren't. You all will have to prepare yourselves for the worst." He sighed, and Hermione could swear that she was able to feel the immense sadness that filled him. The man seemed to look at his hand, still over her arm, and took it away before saying, with a stronger voice, "I must go, and you have to rest."

"NO!" she yelled, feeling her anxiousness increase again. "What do you mean, 'terrible things are going to happen?' You have to tell me —"

But she felt incredibly tired all of a sudden and stopped talking. She wanted to say more things; she had questions! She had, at least, to say thanks —

She stared at the man's face for a moment, using her last ounce of energy to keep her eyelids open. The man not only was wearing a hood, but it covered his entire face. How could he see anything? Or was it enchanted so it was see-through only from the inside?

She didn't know, but she had no more strength left to think. She just laid her head on the floor and closed her eyes, muttering a barely audible "Thank you" before passing out.

Expect chapter 2 in 24 – 36 hours. Hope you liked it