A/N: I do not own Harry Potter. This is not my sandbox, I'm only playing in it


THE WRITER

PROLOGUE

On Approach to Heathrow Airport

London, England

November 7, 1999 CE

The blue and black private executive jet streaked through the skies over Southern England from the direction of Germany at speeds exceeding nine hundred kilometers per hour.

Inside the spacious cabin of the private aircraft, two people relaxed on leather upholstered seats, seemingly without a care about anything or anyone in the world. This, of course, was a wrong assumption.

Hermione Jean Granger, one of the two people inside the cabin, stared at the white clouds that the aircraft that she is riding on is seemingly sailing on. Her thoughts are filled with images of her home country and the things that she would do now that she is finally returning.

If pressured, she would have to admit that she missed dear old Britain. She had left when she was sixteen years old and had never thought that she would ever return to the island country again, and yet, here she is. Of course, she did not leave Britain on her own free will; she left Britain because she was forced to leave.

The young lady – she had just ended her teen years, turning twenty just two months past – turned her attention to the seemingly asleep man who was the only other occupant of the rather spacious cabin of the private aircraft.

It was hard to determine his age just from looking at him, for he has the uncanny ability to look like a teenager one moment to a man in his late thirties the other. Hermione knew that he was just twenty five.

She removed her attention from her travelling companion and turned her thoughts instead back to the clouds. She could feel the aircraft descending to normal cruising altitude as their pilot – she imagined – called on London air traffic in order to inform them of their intention to land in Heathrow.

Without really thinking about it, her hands gently moved to her neck, fingering the diamond encrusted necklace that was given to her as a birthday present for her last birthday. A casual observer would remark on the beauty of that piece of jewelry, and Hermione knew that this particular piece that she was wearing is unique, but only a select few would know the reason that that jewelry is there in the first place.

Suppressing a sigh, she turned her attention once more toward her travelling companion just as he appeared to be waking up. This necklace was a present from him and Hermione found herself smiling as she fondly remembered how he carefully placed this necklace on her.

"Hermione," the voice of her travelling companion interrupted her further musings and she turned her attention toward him.

"Alex?" Hermione asked. Through the years that she had been away from Britain – and training under this very man who had just called her – she had developed numerous personalities. Each of these personalities is a version of her that specializes in something. The fact that her companion had called her by her first name and her full first name was an indication of which personality that he wishes to respond to him.

Even her response – her use of his nickname as opposed to other terms or names that she would be more comfortable in using – was tied to his use of her full first name.

"How are you?" he asked with a smile, "Looking forward to returning home?"

Hermione took a few moments to formulate her answer, "I do not know if I am looking forward to returning home," she replied with a serious look on her face, "My place is beside you, where you are, that is home"

Alex smiled at her, it was clear that there was a hint of pride in his eyes. For a few moments, he looked as if he was about to say something in response to what she had just said, but he just nodded, "Very well," he replied before he sighed and continued, "Do you like your new collar, Kitten?"

In response, Hermione once more touched her necklace and enthusiastically nodded. This one personality – Kitten – was the one that Hermione is most comfortable in assuming whenever she and Alex are alone, though sometimes, she had to remind herself that in her Kitten personality, she would never refer to her master by his first name alone, let alone his nickname.

"It is beautiful, Master," she replied while admiring the necklace with her fingers. She turned toward her master and demurely lowered her head so as to avoid gazing at the face of her master without his permission.

"Is that so?" Alex asked, he stood and made his way to her side, softly caressing the side of her face as he continued, "I fear that you can only wear that one when we are in public, my pet, in private, I would wish for you to wear the old one"

"Of course, my master," Hermione replied, keeping her gaze on the floor. She did not notice that her master had already returned to his seat.

"Tell me of the war, Shadow," Alex said as he took his seat.

Of all the personalities of Hermione, this one was the least that she used. If her personalities also have ages, then she would have to say that this one was her youngest. Shadow is her tactical advisor personality, and her master rarely needs tactical or strategic advice as he always has the situation under control. It is also her combat personality, and her master rarely has the need for her to go to the field.

"The war goes on, My Lord," Hermione – in her Shadow personality – replied, "Intelligence from within the British Magical Community indicates that the battle lines had not moved drastically from since the time that I left, My Lord"

Alex nodded, stroking his chin as if he was thinking. Hermione knew better. While her master appears to be thinking, the truth was that it was just a habit that he had developed in order to satisfy his audience. Alex, Hermione knew, always plans ahead and stroking his chin is not one of his mannerisms when he is thinking. With a faint blush, she reminded herself that her master prefers to be moving when he is thinking and hitting something or someone with a bullwhip.

"Do you think they would go after you, once they find out that you have returned?" Alex asked casually even as the 'Fasten Your Seat Belts' sign turned to green.

Hermione watched as her master fastened his belt first before she did so. As soon as she had secured herself, she replied to the question, "It does not matter, My Lord," she said, "my purpose is to serve you, wherever, whenever, and however you desire."

"And your friends?" Alex asked. "They would surely wish for you to join them in their fight against this 'Dark Lord' of theirs, you would change the war in one day, my dear"

Hermione adamantly shook her head, "their desires and wishes does not matter to me, My Lord, all that matters are yours"

Alex smiled and nodded. He turned his gaze back to the front of the aircraft as it slowly lost altitude in a controlled descent. Beside him, Hermione returned her attention to the clouds. She meant every little thing that she had said, but she still cannot decide if she should be excited or not about returning home.

ONE

Hogsmeade Village, Hogwarts

Hogwarts Valley, Scotland

November 12, 1995 CE

Students dismount from carriages that appear to be pulled by nothing, ready to spend the rest of the day within the magical village.

It was the first Hogsmeade weekend for the school year and almost everyone who can have opted to go out of the castle and find something, anything, to do in the magical village, if only to waste their time wondering around the snow covered roads of the village.

The situation within the Hallowed Halls of Hogwarts Castle had turned for the worse. The Ministry of Magic – in an attempt to regulate the school – had appointed Dolores Umbridge into the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor, and she had done nothing in that post.

Well, maybe, not nothing per se.

Most of the students in the school had only to take one class from her in order to know that she is an absolute buffoon when it comes to DADA. Nothing ever gets done in her class except reading about theory and she had forbidden anyone from practicing the spells that students are supposed to be learning.

What qualified the fact that Umbridge was doing something, however, is the fact that she had assigned no less than fifty detentions since term had began. Surely, that was doing something, even if it was only an incidental power attached to her position.

One of the favorite targets of Umbridge walked into the village with his two friends at his side. Fifteen year old Harry James Potter was, unlike his two best friends and a majority of the students who had opted to get out of the school, not looking forward to this trip.

A few days ago, his two best friends – Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger, though it was mostly the latter – had convinced him to form an unofficial club in order to learn defense. Thanks to Hermione's nagging, Harry finally agreed, if only to shut her up. Of course, he learned that he would have to meet with those who wish to join this club first, and that was what made Harry irritated.

He was hoping that he would have this trip all to himself and his friends, but no, Hermione had to do something to spoil that up. Shaking his head irritably, he told himself that there is nothing that he could do about it anymore, while mentally noting that he would have to speak with Professor McGonagall about getting a room for this club.

He would have asked the Headmaster, but apparently, the old coot was so busy about the war that Dumbledore cannot even find time to talk with Harry. The fact that he cannot speak with his Headmaster and ask for his advise as well as the predations of the Ministry in general and Umbridge in particular, made Harry irritable.

"Where are we going anyway?" Harry asked. "The Three Broomsticks?"

"Oh – no," said Hermione, coming out of her reverie, "No, it's always packed and really noisy. I've told the others to meet us in the hog's Head, that other pub, you know the one, it's not on the main road. I think it's a bit…you know…dodgy… but students don't normally go in there, so I don't think we'll be overheard."

They walked down the main street past Zonko's Joke Shop, where they were unsurprised to see Fred, George, and Lee Jerdan, past the post office, from which owls issued at regular intervals, and turned up a side street at the top of which stood a small inn. A battered wooden sign hung from a rusty bracket over the door, with a picture upon it of a wile boar's severed head leaking blood on the white cloth around it. The sign creaked in the wind as they approached. All three of hesitated outside the door.

As they made their way to the agreed upon meeting place, Hermione nervously glanced every now and then at Harry. She was hoping that she would forgive her for dragging him into this stunt, but really, the sixteen year old girl cannot think of anyone else who has the acumen to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, not to mention the power, if his patronus is to be of any indication.

She had to admit, however, that one of the reasons that she had insisted that Harry be the one to teach was because she was already planning on cornering his affections and getting him to fall in love with her.

The sixteen year old smart witch – she had often been referred to as the 'smartest witch of her age' – knew that there was an underground war going on between the female population of the castle, a war where no two witches are allied with one another, a war where the only prize is the affection of one Harry James Potter.

Hermione might not look as if she is interested in that fight, but in reality, she had always held an infatuation for her best friend since the night that he came and rescued her from the troll, perhaps, even before then.

Just this summer past, Hermione asked her mother how to get the attention of her best friend and her mother had told her that the best way to make him fall in love with her is to spend more time with him alone.

Hermione knew that her image in school had always been one of a serious student who would not let anything get in the way of her studies, so she thought that getting Harry to lead a defense club, and then demanding that he gives her private lessons – just the two of them – is a stroke of masterpiece.

Of course, the appearance of Dolores Umbridge in school and the unofficial policy of the Ministry of Magic to prohibit practicing defense spells caused Hermione to modify her plans a bit, but the original idea is still there. She just hoped that Cho Chang would not get in the way, but she had no choice but to include the older witch since Cho overheard her talking with Luna that morning.

Hermione turned her attention toward her other friend, Ron. When she spoke with her mother about getting boys, her mother asked her if Hermione was thinking about Harry or Ron. Hermione replied, of course, that her target was Harry, and her mother launched into a rant about Ron that lasted for nearly an hour. Her mother was strictly against her dating Ronald Weasley, and had managed to impart upon Hermione that she is not to date any boy who is not named Harry James Potter.

Biting her lip – which was not noticed by anyone – she mentally sighed as she told herself that if things go wrong, Ron would be her second choice. It is unfortunate, but there is nothing that she could do about it, other than pray that her plan with Harry would succeed.

Hermione would rather not end up with Ron after all, since the red-haired boy was only concerned about food, quidditch, and sleep. Certainly not the qualities that a girl is looking for in the man that she would want to spend the rest of her life with.

"Well, come on," said Hermione slightly nervously. Harry led the way inside…

There was a massive explosion of sorts that came from the main road. Harry, Ron, and Hermione hesitated only for a few short moments before the trio drew their wands and started running back toward the main road.

As they were running, there was another loud explosion, quickly followed by large screams of terror and panic as witches and wizards fled in all directions. By the time that the trio had reached the main road, a third explosion had ripped through the skies of Hogsmeade.

Black robed and masked Death Eaters were exchanging colorful spell fire with some older students. Harry and Hermione noticed that a scattering of Order members are also located within the defenders, but they were quickly being overwhelmed.

Without hesitation, Harry threw himself into the fray, firing disarming hexes at any Death Eater that he could see as he and his friends made their way to the defending line. Hermione and Ron added their own spell fire in the volume.

Unlike her two friends, Hermione was also observing the fight as she was fighting. Like Harry and Ron, she was firing a combination of prank hexes, disarming hexes, and stunners. She noted that they are hitting quite a few of their targets and a small part of her mind congratulated her as well as noted that they would have little need for accuracy training later.

The larger part of her mind warned her that what she and her friends are doing is nothing but sheer folly and that they should stop. It was not that her mind was not for resisting Voldemort and his ilk, for she knew that if the Dark Lord were to win, then she would be executed.

What her mind was warning her about was her use of non-lethal spells. She noted that every time a Death Eater gets disarmed, a comrade of the disarmed combatant would summon the wand back and the disarmed Death Eater would be back in the fight. A stunned Death Eater would take longer, but they are usually revived within one to two minutes after being stunned.

In contrast, the numerically superior defenders were getting clobbered by the liberal use of the Death Eaters of the unforgivable curses. Already, Hermione can see unmarked, but unmistakably dead, bodies in the streets, victims of the sickly green killing curse.

"Harry," Hermione screamed just as a loud explosion erupted in front of her, throwing her backward. She found herself lying on the road, her forehead split open and bleeding, but she can see with clarity as her best friend continued running to join the defenders with Ron.

Hermione pushed herself from the floor, just in time to evade as a torture curse was sent at her. She turned her attention toward the back of Harry before she made the decision to run the opposite direction. She could always rejoin him later, but right now, running toward that direction would be foolish since most of the Death Eaters were apparently focused there.

Hermione run back toward the direction where she came from. Unknown to her, several trainee Death Eaters spotted her running and recognized her. The chance of killing Harry Potter's girlfriend – for that was how they know Hermione – not to mention the chance to enjoy themselves a bit with her before they kill her, made at least five trainee Death Eaters disregard their instructions and chase after Hermione.

Hermione paused from her running for a bit and jumped to the side toward a back alley in order to hide. She watched as seven Death Eaters raced past her and let out a sigh as they turned the corner and disappeared. She knew that she would have to find a way to rejoin Harry and the defenders, but with the amount of Death Eaters out there, she realized that perhaps it would be best if she were to just wait it out until the aurors arrive.

She suddenly jumped, just in time, to avoid getting hit by a disarming hex. She turned her attention toward the entrance to the dead end alley and her eyes widened when she saw the seven Death Eaters that she had evaded advance on her.

They may have hidden their faces behind their masks, but Hermione can still see the leers on their faces, leers that made her want to take a bath. She raised her wand in defiance, but she had barely straightened her wand arm parallel to the ground when she was hit by a disarming hex and her wand flew toward the Death Eaters.

"Potter seems to have forgotten about you, mudblood," one of the Death Eaters – Hermione thought that she recognized the voice, but she cannot place it, it certainly was not Malfoy or any from her year.

Hermione did not deign to reply, her mind far too busy trying to think of a way to get out of this predicament. She absently noted the late response time of the aurors as she thought about stalling long enough to get the aurors here.

"The Aurors are not coming, mudblood," the apparent leader of the seven Death Eaters said. Again, there was that leer, "We are going to have fun," he said.

Suddenly, there was an explosion behind Hermione. All eight people within the back alley turned their attention toward the direction, and when the smoke cleared, it was obvious that Hermione now has a way to run as the wall that made the alley a dead end had disappeared.

Without hesitation, Hermione ran toward that direction.

"After her," the leader of the Death Eaters said and she heard the sounds of running behind her. Colored beams of light flew around her as her chasers attempted to take her down with their hexes, but for some reason, they are missing widely.

Apparently, the alley that she had chosen was near the forest, it was not long before she had to duck in order to avoid getting hit by a low branch as she entered the forest that bordered Hogsmeade and Hogwarts in almost all directions. The Death Eaters followed without hesitation or even pausing to consider what they might find inside.

Without her own wand to fire back, there was nothing that Hermione could do, so she just ran, hoping that Harry and Ron are safe. She ran for a good five minutes before the sound of running behind her ceased. She continued running for a good thirty second before she stopped and turned around.

Sure enough, the Death Eaters had stopped chasing after her, probably realizing that going after her so deep in the forest is not with the price that might be extracted from them.

Allowing her fatigue to catch up with her, she dropped to the ground, breathing heavily. She closed her eyes – remembering what her father had told her before, that closing one of her five senses would sharpen the others – and tried to listen for the sounds of battle, but cannot hear anything.

She easily dismissed it as a consequence of the distance between the village and her current location. Hermione looked around, trying to take stock of her current situation. She badly wants to return and help fight, but with her wand taken away from her, she worried that she would only be a liability. She certainly did not want Harry to be cursed because he was too busy taking care of her.

Hermione, however, knew that she cannot stay here. The last time that she was in the Forbidden Forest, she nearly got her soul sucked by a Dementor, and before that, she was nearly bitten by a werewolf.

Her mind made up, she pushed herself off of the forest floor and started to retrace her steps back out of the forest. As she only run straight, Hermione knew that, sooner or later she would find that branch that she ducked to avoid and the point where she entered the forest, or at the least, she would be able to hear the sounds of the battle.

After five minutes of walking in a straight line, however, she blinked as she realized that not only had she failed to find the point where she had entered the forest, it was still deadly silent. She had walked straight in the direction where she had come from, not, even for the slightest bit, turning, and yet, she is still in deep forest.

Frightened, her legs gave way and she once more found herself seated on the forest floor. Even frightened, however, the witch was trying to formulate of a way in order to let the others know where to get her. Unfortunately, without her wand, there was no magical way for her to send a distress signal.

What made it worse is the fact that she is trapped in the forbidden forest without her wand. She once more pushed herself off of the forest floor and continued walking back toward the direction where she came from, determination written on her face as she attempted to find an exit.

Thirty minutes later, she paused for a rest as she figured that she would not hear the sounds of the battle anymore even if she is close to the village since the battle had probably already ended. A small part of her mind congratulated her for surviving the fight and at the same time, told her that now that the Death Eaters have attacked, the Ministry would not be able to keep it a secret for much longer and, in the end, it might not be necessary for Harry to teach.

Of course, that did not mean that Hermione would not demand her private lessons from him, as that is the only way that she could make him fall in love with her. She needs those lessons.

Once more, Hermione started walking. She, however, had barely taken twenty steps before a figure appeared in her path, cutting her off. This figure was humanoid in shape and appeared to have his back turned toward her. He was wearing clothes that would have made Hermione indentify him as a Death Eater and curse him, if not for the fact that Hermione currently does not have a wand.

She slowly backed away, figuring that this figure was observing the battle and the run of the Death Eaters, and would be too busy to look behind him and spot her. She figured that she could hide on the side of the road, hidden by the trees, but once more, she had barely taken a few steps before the figure in front of her disappeared.

There was no indication of the figure disappearing, he just did. For a few moments, Hermione wondered if she had imagined the figure, and she shook her head, attempting to clear her vision, even if she knew that that would have no effect.

A rush of wind behind her caused her to pause and turn her head in that direction deliberately. The figure that she had seen standing in front of her was now standing behind her, and there was no indication of him moving or anything, and Hermione was sure that it was not apparate or disapparate, since there are no sounds.

"You know," the figure said. From the sound and timbre of his voice, Hermione guessed that the speaker was male, "this was not supposed to happen."

Hermione wanted to ask the figure what was not supposed to happen, but she quickly dismissed that as meaning the fact that the Death Eaters have been defeated, or, if not that, then the fact that the Death Eaters have been exposed.

Instead of asking, Hermione noted the clothes that this figure – this man – was wearing. Although from behind, the clothes that he is wearing might appear to be those of a Death Eater – the colors are the same – in front, it was a different story.

The man was not wearing a cloak or a robe; rather, he was wearing clothes that Hermione would have figured would only be worn by a person from the muggle world. Mentally clearing her vision, Hermione noticed that this man was actually wearing a double-breasted tail coat.

His head was completely bare, showing his dark hair that was, for some reason or another, pointed to the right rather than down. Black eyes – leaking intensity but at the same time, casual intelligence – regarded Hermione as she stood before him.

Shaking his head, the figure added, "This was not supposed to happen," before he sighed and added, "Oh well, we take what we get," and so saying, he raised his hand at her direction.

Hermione's eyes widened when she saw the movement and she turned her back toward the man and started running. She would have sworn that she heard him sigh, but it might have been her imagination, because at that moment, she suddenly found her body too heavy and she, once more, fell to the ground.

The man stood before her as she lay on the forest floor. He reached for her and that was the last memory that she had before darkness, mercifully, claimed her.

Heathrow Airport

London, England

November 7, 1999 CE

Hermione inhaled, it was the first time that she had inhaled the air of her home country since she had left. She mentally noted that nothing had changed with the air of her country, but at the same time that she did that, she also commented to herself that she would not be able to detect any change by inhaling even if there was.

She turned her attention to her back, just in time to see her master clear customs. Thanks to the fact that they arrived through private plane, they get to use the rarely full private terminal of one of the busiest airports in the world.

Hermione watched as her master walked toward her, dragging their luggage. She smiled as she considered the fact that while she is the servant and he is the master, he is the one dragging their luggage. Hermione, however, knew that the reason for that is because her master is a great believer in appearances, and it certainly would not do well for appearances if he were to ask her to drag their luggage.

Alex and Hermione were the only arrivals in the terminal so it was easy for their host to locate them. This, however, did not seem to stop their host from placing a welcoming party. Five people – four burly guards wearing dark suits that are trying, and failing, to look menacing, and a pretty girl about five years older than Hermione – stood at the arrival area of the terminal with one of the guards holding a placard with the name 'Alexander Charles York' written on it.

Hermione nearly killed the five people for the placard if not for the fact that her master stopped her with a smile on his face, saying, "I guess they are trying to be funny."

Hermione frowned at the general direction of the welcoming party, but nevertheless, allowed them to go without her killing any one of them. She, however, knew the tone that her master had used. While their hosts are perhaps trying to be funny, her master was not seeing the humor.

"Mr. York," the pretty little thing – the girl – approached Alex while Hermione watched with her frown, "Welcome to London, Mr. Tyler sends his regrets, an emergency meeting had prevented him from welcoming you himself"

Alex nodded. There was still a smile on his face as he replied, "So he sent you instead," he shook his head and inclined his head in the general direction of Hermione, "I am not sure what you've heard about me, dear, but I can assure you, a pretty face is the last thing I want right now, not when I already have the most beautiful woman by my side"

Hermione blushed at the words of his master, but she was not the only one. The girl blushed as well, but Alex ignored her, instead, placing both of his piercing black eyes on the guard holding the placard, "Would you please put that sign down?" he asked in a polite, but unmistakably deadly manner, "I do not think it would do well to advertise my presence here, after all, I am a suspected arms smuggler right?"

The guard who was holding the card quickly nodded and put the sign down. Alex looked at the four men and the pretty girl before he gave a nod indicating that they may lead the way while he and Hermione hang back.

"Master," Hermione began, she knew that she had overstepped her bounds when she tried to move without his permission and she wanted to ask for his forgiveness.

"Don't bother, pet," Alex replied with a smile. Only Hermione – who was the closest to her master – can see the irritation hidden underneath his eyes, "I would have allowed you to kill them if not for the fact that this is a public location," he sighed, "nevertheless, since I know how much you enjoy it, ten lashes tonight"

Hermione smiled and nodded. She might not be excited about getting back home, but she sure as hell is excited about tonight when she and her master are alone.

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