Prologue: Under starry skies

The trees in the backyard looked more worn out than usual. The tiny tire-swing that had a thick, crusty knot tied around a sturdy branch of the once magnificent Oak now seemed to swing around of its own accord, being the only moving thing in the scene unless you counted the leaves quivering in the wind. Shades of pink and orange streaked across the sky all the way to the horizon, making the evening seem like a reasonably pleasant one. But for Hermione, that was hardly the case.

The morose feeling had been hanging around her all day, and nothing seemed to be taking it away. Muggle T.V shows, video games and even reading a book didn't reduce the heaviness and pain in her heart. All this was a result of today morning's walk down her not-so-pleasant memory lane. It only took the simple embroidery of her late sister's initials on a ragged piece of cloth, – once a handkerchief – to drive her to the depths of depression. She hated thinking about Clara; she hated thinking about such a precious part of her past that had been snatched away from her. Even if Hermione had only been five when she lost her, it had ripped away an essential piece of her tiny self. She still couldn't remember too many things about Clara, but the little memories warmed her heart ever so slightly.

The car crash had been probably one of the most severe shocks in her life, and just at the tender age of five, Hermione had felt her first real sense of loss. Those sirens of the ambulance and the tears glistening in her mother's eyes shook her to tears even today. Hence she decided, with the combined effort of every nerve and muscle in her body, to completely bury away all evidence of her sister and take a quiet walk along the empty roads. Shakily standing up from the back porch, she steadied herself by gripping the railing. She took in a deep and audible breath, letting it out slowly in attempt to clear her head. Satisfied to some extent by the result, she made her way down the few stairs and towards the wooden fence. Jumping over it after years of practice, she skillfully landed with a soft thud on the dusty ground. Her house was situated somewhat in the outskirts, and for some eerie reason the area reminded her of the Hogwarts grounds. Just the thought of her beloved school was the only inspiration she needed to crack a smile. She had been very excited for the reopening of school probably ever since it shut down last summer, but that seemed a bit unfair to her gracious parents who she'd spent a long and beautiful summer with, away from all the clutter and chaos in the magical world. Memories from the night at the Ministry and the murder of Sirius Black were, however, still fresh in her mind. And no matter how much she distracted herself with muggle activities, she couldn't stop brewing theories about You-Know-Who and the whole "He's back" scenario. Ron and Harry had seemed to notice too, and Hermione smiled thinking of the way they would reply to her intricate and serious-toned letters about the topic with things like, "Fred and George created an Extendable Eye today!" or "That's cool, I managed to steal a couple of pancakes from Dudley's plate this morning and he didn't even notice!"

Her mind refreshed with thoughts of her brilliant best friends and the warmth of Hogwarts, Hermione headed down the road slowly, with the ghost of a smile playing on her lips.

xxx

Draco's room was a total mess. Not to mention his confused and throbbing head. His knuckles turned white as he gripped the vintage accessory cup tightly before it lay cluttered on the ground, shattered by the wall into a dozen pieces. A frustrated half scream, half groan escaped his lips. Why did this always happen to him? He decided not to go into the depth and details of that question. Shutting his eyes tightly for a minute, he stormed towards the window across his room before opening it, and let the dim light pierce the room. Peeping outside, he fondly gazed at the stars lightly glowing just after sunset. The light in the sky was dull, but the shine of the stars stuck right through, brightening the twilight-like scene with faint hope and rejuvenation. Roughly throwing the curtains to the sides, he paused to let the silence in the room echo through his ears. The house was fairly quiet, seeing that the meeting had just come to an end. Malfoy Manor had become the main center for Death Eater meetings. Almost every Sunday, a bunch of cloaked and scary looking men would walk in the door, before the Dark Lord himself. Draco always tried his best to stay away, because the entire idea of a man who'd returned from being almost completely destroyed just to murder someone as sickly and pathetic as Potter was out of his grasp. And he didn't necessarily see that opinion changing.

The truth was he was scared. Scared of Voldemort, and utterly terrified of the effect he had on people. Like he had changed Draco's father. Lucius had always been a vicious man, but serving the Dark Lord had made him unredeemable; evil. Draco had seen the change Voldemort's disappointment had had in his father, and he didn't like it one bit. Lucius would return after a long day of work just to release his stress on his wife, who was just scared of him now. Of all the things in this world Draco hated, the topmost would be seeing his mother flinch at something his Dad said. He adored his family, and he would do anything in his power to hold it together. But the Dark Lord had torn them apart. And Draco hated that, along with the fact that now he threatened to "destroy" them if he couldn't finish the task. But Draco Malfoy wasn't really the boy he showed off at school; he was hollow. Or rather, he'd been hollowed out, to forget his feelings, forget all the pain, and just do his "duties." He had become and empty shell, alone, with no real friends or people that understood him, and only his arrogance and heartache to pour out at others in the form of harsh treatment. He was not a mean, stereotyped bully, but rather, the misunderstood boy who was never really given a real choice. Never had he wished to become another one of the used under Voldemort. Never in his life had he imagined being used as a pawn for the upcoming chaos (which he could do nothing to stop). Sometimes he just wished someone would care.

"Draco, my boy," his father croaked with fake affection and a fiery edge to his gaze, nudging his side towards where Voldemort was standing, "Are you ready to commit to the Lord?"

"Y-Yes, I-I am." Draco had spoken, unclearly and unsurely. Mostly unsure, primarily forced.

Sometimes, he just wanted another chance.

xxx

Hermione blinked a couple of times, realizing where she was before abruptly stopping in her tracks. She'd been walking for the past half an hour, and had made it around one and a half miles away from home. Blushing to herself about how absent-minded she could get when engrossed in her thoughts, she turned on her heel to make her way back up the slope. She was sufficiently distracted from the thoughts of Clara, and now decided she would spend the remainder of the evening with her lovely parents, reminiscing the feeling that she felt at home before she was off to Hogwarts again. Determined to enjoy the remaining days of freedom before the burdens of Sixth year were showered on her (even though she secretly struck off every day till she had to return), Hermione confidently walked with tired legs and a freshened mind to the same fence she'd left thirty minutes ago. Butterflies filled her stomach as she wondered what magic Hogwarts would create for them this year, and how people would have changed. Would Draco Malfoy earn another firm slap from her? Would Professor McGonagall have a new hat to wear? Is Severus Snape's hair still an un-cleaned, slimy mess? Laughing at the last one, she went on imagining the wonderfulness of opening her new books at school - not that she hadn't read them all at least thrice already – and seeing all her friends again.

Bumping into the fence because of her dazed head, she shook herself out of fantasizing about the future. Taking in a deep breath, she flung herself over to the other side, smiling at the sight of her parents sitting in the porch chairs. Hermione took one last look at the stars lighting up the now purplish sky, warming her heart further; Hogwarts was going to be great this year, but for now she was going to enjoy the company of the two most important people in her world. And oh, her cat as well.

xx

A/N: This is a (possible) story, and even though there isn't any real plot in this chapter, considering it's just a prologue, I wanted to share it with you guys and see what you think about this much. Let me know if you'd like to read more, criticism is appreciated and needed. Thank you for reading! - S