Before reading this I will tell you one thing, this is an Alternate Universe and because of this I have taken a liberty with several characters and as for such they might appear OOC. If you do not like this, don't read it and then whine about it in reviews.

And then to clear a few things up:
Harry and Hermione will both be a bit dark, smart (Hermione being incredibly so) and powerful but they won't necessarily be evil.
Dumbledore will be portrayed in the way I see him to be, which is manipulative.

So, remember people, this is an Alternate Universe and several characters are slightly insane, twisted, fickle and/or a mix of all.
Enjoy.


Labyrinth

The mind of a prodigy is a scary thing. Hermione Granger's however is downright terrifying.
AU. Slytherin!Hermione, Slytherin!Harry

Chapter One

Setting the stage

"I hate them," 9 year old Hermione Granger whispered as she stared down at the puddle her book was lying in. Pages were torn, crude words written on the cover before the book was thrown in the shallow water.

Hermione balled her shaking hands into fists, her shoulders trembling with silent sobs as she bit her lip to keep herself from crying. She ignored the drips of rain leaking down from the grey clouds above her as she watched the rain soaking whatever dry pages there were left in a matter of seconds. The rain was pouring down now, thick drops of water that stuck to her bushy brown hair and seeped into her uniform. She was shaking now, the cold, anger and sadness mixing in a way that made her want to throw herself to the ground and simultaneously cry and scream whilst pounding her limbs on the ground like a child.

"I hate them," she repeated as she rose her head slightly, drops of water sliding down her forehead into her brown eyes, making her vision blurry.

She could vividly remember all the times they had bullied her, tripped her up, pulled her hair or called her names. She remembered the stuff they had stolen from her, how they'd whisper behind her back and ignored her when she talked. She couldn't even begin to count the times she'd cried over them, or the times the teacher got mad and tried to reign the bullies in. Her parents couldn't stop them, the teachers couldn't stop them, nothing could stop them.

"I hate them!" Hermione screamed to the sky, her voice carrying over the empty playground with ease. She swore could feel the ground shaking along with her body and let out another angry scream.

"Never again," she said as she rose her chin slightly like her mother always told her to do. "Never again!" she repeated strongly. She could feel something burning inside her, a blazing inferno that spread across her body like lightning and left a tingling sensation once it passed. She felt better now, for just a split second she truly felt superior. To them, the bullies, and for an even shorter moment she felt as if she could take on the whole world and come out unscathed. Her mind was racing then, coming up with and dismissing ideas in an amazingly fast way as she vowed to keep the promise she'd shouted at the sky, never again. Never again would she be weak, never again would she allow herself to be bullied, never again would anyone hurt her. I'll stop them, she swore, I'll show them.

Hermione then walked away, chin still raised and a slightly scary look in her eyes as she left the playground and started the short trek home.

She never noticed the web of deep cracks that connected at a particular spot on the playground that most certainly weren't there the day before.

oOoOoOo

"Hey beaver, what have you got there?" Shirley asked as she leant over Hermione's desk, "ooh! Another book!"

Hermione stared up at the pigtailed girl with an angry frown, "don't touch it."

"And what would you do if I did? You're just an ugly bookworm." Shirley sneered as she flipped her hair back dramatically like she always saw her older sister do before grabbing the book and holding it in the air. "Look what I found guys! Beaver's got another-"

"Don't. Touch. My. Stuff." Hermione hissed angrily as she grabbed the girl's free wrist and glared up at her.

Shirley was about to retort with another nasty comment when sharp bolts of pain travelled up her wrist and she bit her lip from crying out in pain when it felt as if her wrist was about to break. "Fine, have your stupid book," she muttered in defeat as she dropped the book back on Hermione's desk with a nonchalant hand gesture. Shirley nearly sighed in relief when Hermione let go of her wrist and she quickly hightailed to the other side of the room, cradling her wrist to her body.

Two days later Shirley Palmer was found to have a few hairline-fractures in her wrist bone and could only say "I don't know" when asked how she got them, too afraid to tell the truth.

oOoOoOo

"What are you doing here?" Hermione inquired as she stared at a messily haired, pale boy that suddenly sat in the shadowy spot next to one of the towering bookcases.

"Hiding," he replied shortly as he stared warily out of the window of the library.

Hermione followed his gaze and saw one overweight blonde boy and two tinier boys walking down the street, occasionally stopping to peer behind bushes or kick at trashcans.

"I could …" Her voice trailed off at the end as she gestured at the boys.

The boy shook his head vehemently, messy black hair flying around and showing Hermione a glimpse of an oddly shaped scar.

"Your loss," she shrugged before holding out her hand, "I'm Hermione Granger by the way, pleased to meet you."

"My name's Harry," the boy mumbled shyly as he shook her hand quickly, "Harry Potter."

Hermione nodded thoughtfully and shot another look at the window, the boys were gone and the street empty again. She then directed her gaze back at the boy in front of her as the cogs in her head started working again and ideas rapidly formed in her head. She had seen the way he appeared out of nowhere because she could do the very same.

"Tell me Harry, do you like books?" Hermione asked with a toothy smile as she picked one of her books out of her messenger bag.

At Harry's unsure nod Hermione's smile became beatific as she beamed at him, "Marvellous! This will be the beginning of something beautiful."

oOoOoOo

It was indeed the beginning of something not necessarily beautiful but rather something good. They met in the Surrey Library every week, Hermione taking the bus from Camberley every Saturday and Harry just walking. She helped him improve his atrocious penmanship and find a wondrous world in books of every kind. He helped her change her opinions on other children her age, or rather, he made her make an exception for him. Hermione more than once told him that he was the only one near her age that she could stand for longer periods of time and thus was an exception. He wasn't as intelligent as her, not by a long shot, but he was swiftly coming along. They met at the old library and sat in dusty chairs, doing nothing but talking and reading.

Harry didn't comment on how Dudley came home crying one Saturday when he was forbidden to go to the library for being a no-good freak and suddenly got permission to go again. He ignored the way Dudley flinched when looking at books and how the obese boy always made an effort to evade the Surrey Library and would rub his shoulder whenever it was mentioned. He kept silent when he saw his friend get the look in her eyes that promised another change in his life, such as how he suddenly got a real bedroom when Dudley came home with his arm in a cast. He never said a word of how sometimes she'd seem as if she wanted the world nor of the way a cold fire seemed to ignite inside her at the mere mention of bullies.

Hermione didn't comment on his home situation, his cast-off clothes or his messy hair nor did she try to give him charity, that she encouraged Harry's obese uncle and horse-like aunt that a change was necessary was a completely different thing. She would pretend not to notice how his hair never seemed to grow longer or how he sometimes had books flying to his hand when he thought she wasn't watching. She never spoke of how he would know when she was in the library without them ever discussing a time to meet. Never did she speak of how he shied away from people bearing physical resemblances to his relatives, how he shied away in shadows like a thief and how utterly clueless he was about some normal things he never got to experience.

They kept each other's secrets and always had the other's back, never speaking of their problems and probably being each other's first friend. It was the kind of friendship only two definitely extraordinary children could share and they latched onto it like a parched man given a jug of water. What they shared was odd, inexplicable and different. It was as a happy thing but also as twisted as the human mind and yet as utterly breath-taking as the almighty roar of a waterfall, the golden rays of sunshine, breaking out of the clouds after a rainy day or the first look at a new born child.

And it was completely and utterly theirs.

oOoOoOo

"I assume you have read both the letter and the explanatory folders we sent you?" Minerva McGonagall asked as she took a sip of her tea and calmly sat on the padded armchair the Granger parents had pointed her to.

"We did," Martha Granger said from her position next to her husband on the couch, "and we think that you should talk to our daughter and convince her that this school of yours is the best there is."

"Indeed," the husband chimed in as he stared Minerva in the eye for a few seconds, "it is Hermione that needs to be won over. You'll find her in the third room on your right on the first floor."

And with that said Minerva McGonagall found herself standing in a spacious room with a bed, desk, chair and one padded armchair similar to the one she sat on in the living room. There was a tasteful dark green rug on the wooden floor and apart from the little furniture it was completely filled with bookshelves and books on every available surface. And in the one armchair, squeezed between two big shelves packed with books, sat the Granger's daughter, Hermione.

Minerva coughed once to alert the girl to her presence and found that the bushy haired brunette gave no visible reaction other than a bored look in her direction before her eyes flew over the pages again. "I am Minerva McGonagall," she began as she smoothed her maroon robes, "the representative of Hogwarts. Your parents have told you of Hogwarts, haven't they?"

Hermione nodded silently and kept on reading.

"Well, I am here to answer any questions you might have and … " her voice trailed off when she noticed the girl looking up for a second as she put her heavy book away and folded her hands primly on her knees.

"I have one, Mrs. McGonagall," Hermione began.

"Professor," Minerva interrupted sharply, "Professor McGonagall. I teach at Hogwarts as well."

"Professor McGonagall it is then," Hermione said as she stared at Minerva with a level gaze, "I have one question. Would you mind taking me to the place where I can purchase my books?"

Minerva McGonagall mentally shook her head and swore that this girl must have been the most Ravenclaw muggleborn she has ever met and quickly smiled at the girl. "Of course, if your parents permit me I will take you to Diagon Alley and we shall purchase everything you might need for school."

Minerva's smile grew even bigger upon seeing the look on the girl's face and cursed her luck that the girl was such an obvious Ravenclaw.

That the look on Hermione's face was in fact not one of happiness was something Minerva didn't quite catch.

In fact, it was the look of an emperor that had just been given a whole new world to conquer.

oOoOoOo

"Did you know that you are in books, Harry?" Hermione asked levelly, eyes never straying from the page of Dark Arts through the ages as they sat in their secluded spot in the mostly empty Surrey Library.

"I am?" Harry asked, a bit bewildered as a faint surprise showed in his emerald-green eyes, "Which ones?"

Hermione furrowed her brow for a moment before replying, " The one I'm reading now, The rise and fall of the Dark Arts, Most Notable Wizards of the 20th century and Notable magical accomplishments."

"Oh," Harry sighed as he looked down at Proper etiquette for the respectable young witch and wizard with a frown. "They hail me as a hero for being on the right place at the right time?"

"Apparently, you also have a few storybooks dedicated to your pre-Hogwarts adventures. If rumours are to be believed you have a harem of Veela and live in a floating castle. Oh, and you also own a pet unicorn for your children to play with," Hermione said with a straight face though Harry could see the amusement clearly in her eyes.

"You're serious," Harry muttered as he stared at her with horror, "I have children?"

"You have a harem, Harry, so of course you have children," Hermione explained in a condensing voice as she shot him a blank stare.

"And this is all pre-Hogwarts?"

"Yes Harry, so be prepared to disappoint a lot of people when you show up the way you are. Unless you have slain that evil warlock in Denmark, then you're on the good track."

"Bloody hell," Harry breathed as he stared back at his book.

"Don't use such language in front of a lady, Harry, it's inappropriate," Hermione said as she shot him a chilly glare.

Harry quickly shut up as he focused his eyes back on the book in front of him.

"Hermione," he whispered after a while.

"Yes, Harry?"

"You don't happen to have an unicorn I could borrow for a while, do you?"

"No."

"Oh, never mind then."

oOoOoOo

"I must commend you on your ability to conceal your identity," Hermione said formally in a dry tone as the Hogwarts Express started moving, the low grumble of the engine and the sound of the wheels filling the compartment.

"Thanks," Harry said as he placed the cage containing his owl, Hedwig, on his trunk.

"Though wearing a bowler hat is a bit .. odd."

"It was the only muggle thing they had at Madame Makin's," Harry explained as he held the black bowler hat in front of him and regarded it with a slight pang of disgust before putting it on again.

Hermione hmm-ed noncommittally as she picked one of her books out of her own trunk and started reading again, Harry soon doing the same as they lapsed into a comfortable silence that was broken by the door of their compartment sliding open.

"I heard that Harry Potter is on this train!" a lanky redhead said loudly as he stared at Harry and Hermione with a slightly hysterical expression, "And your compartment is the last and I can't find him!"

Harry shot Hermione a look as if to say 'is he for real?' while Hermione just stared at the boy with disgust plainly written across her features and a slight twitch of the eye when she noticed the smudge of dirt on the bridge of his freckle-covered nose.

"No, he isn't here," she said slowly, as if speaking to a child, "but I think I saw one of his Veela over there." She pointed to the hallway he just exited and saw hope lighting up the redhead's face.

"He brought his harem then?" the redhead squeaked excitably, as he looked back over his shoulder to see the empty hallway, "for real?"

"Of course he brought his harem," Hermione said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "I even saw Portia," she added in a whisper.

"Portia!" the boy squeaked, voice reaching an ever higher pitch than before, "he brought his unicorn! Oh Merlin's Beard, I must find him!"

With that the boy stormed out of their compartment again, not even bothering to close the door behind him as he ran off.

"My unicorn is named Portia?" Harry asked with a grimace as he spat out the name.

"I'd be more concerned at the daughter you named James to honour your late father," Hermione explained as she stood up to close the door.

Harry swallowed the next words he wanted to say and went back to his book, occasionally muttering angrily about people turning him into some kind of sick fantasy hero and him being too young for children, let alone daughters named James.

"Harry," Hermione began.

"Yes?"

"You know I'd kill you if you ever were to name a daughter of yours James, yes?"

"I know, and thanks, by the way."

"You're welcome."

They remained like that for the remainder of the trip, sending the boy looking for a toad to the prefects compartment and telling the blonde that they saw Harry Potter walking somewhere near the front and that he probably just missed him on his way to them.

oOoOoOo

Hermione stared at the so called 'Sorting Hat' with a frown, annoyed at its singing talents and how her ears hurt thanks to it and yet marvelled at the fact that it was a talking and singing hat. She just hoped it wasn't as bad at sorting as it was at singing, or she just might be angry, so when her name went forward she walked up to the rickety old chair with a contemplative look in her eyes as she sat down.

Oh dear, a voice chimed through her head, what have we got here?

Hermione remained silent, hundreds of thoughts racing through her head as she gazed at the doors to the Great Hall.

Smart, scarily so. Yes, Rowena would kill to have you, and a oh thirst for knowledge but then that ambition! Goodness girl, but you're so full of contradictions! The voice whined, But before I sort you I'll give you a piece of advice: Don't let yourself get killed. Dark times are coming and to survive you'll need the cunning of a " SLYTHERIN!"

The last bit wasn't just a voice in her head, no, it rang out through the Great Hall and Hermione swore she saw surprise on professor McGonagall's face before she quickly made her way to the Slytherin table where she was met with thinly veiled sneers as they applauded shortly for her.

Hermione kept up a disinterested air around her as she watched the sorting, only when Harry's name was called did she lean forward eagerly, as did much of the other students. Whispers rang out and from the corner of her eye she saw the man she recognized to be Albus Dumbledore lean forward as well, a rather scary grin on his old face as he peered at the hat over his half-moon spectacles.

"SLYTHERIN!" the hat shouted after a minute or so had passed and suddenly the Great Hall turned silent.

And amongst the flabbergasted students Hermione stood up and slowly started clapping as Harry made his way over to her and she softly congratulated him as he sat down next to her. Only then did Hermione peek at the head table again and she frowned at what she saw, Albus Dumbledore was angry. His face was consorted into rage and his eyes were glaring furiously at Harry, his hands were gripping his wand rather tightly and in the blink of an eye it was gone. Albus Dumbledore went back to looking al grandfatherly and probably slightly insane as he grinned at all those around him.

I need to watch him, Hermione thought to herself as she recalled the anger behind the old man's gaze before she shot a look at Harry. They shared a smirk before waiting for the sorting to end.


Thank you for reading.