Disclaimer: Yes, yes, obviously I didn't invent these characters, yadda yadda.

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Prologue

October 31, 1981

The view out the window was dark. The new moon had come a few days before, and only a sliver of white showed in the sky. There were no electric lights to be seen either - the window looked out onto a small rear yard, sheltered from streetlights and traffic by enclosing buildings and fences.

But the small room inside was warmly lit by a fire, and a pair of side-table lamps on either side of the sofa. One lamp illuminated the pages of the spy novel being read by a young brown-haired man in corduroy slacks and a beige sweater-vest. The other shone upon the non-fiction book - 'The Mismeasure of Man', as it happened - being read by a young brunette woman in a thick beige cardigan, her legs obscured by an afghan. The firelight itself danced merrily on the pages of a thinner book, pressed open on the floor by the stubby fingers of a two-year-old girl in a white nightgown. The flickers of orange and yellow made the illustrations of rabbits in waistcoats seem almost as if they might come to life at any moment, but the girl paid them little heed, her eyes instead lingering over the crisp black letters.

Though she knew the words by heart long since - she'd read the book more than once, after all - the girl often returned to it for pleasure. It had been the first book she'd read, a few months ago, and re-reading it reminded her of that first amazing thrill when she'd realized that these marks on paper - not pictures, mind you, just black marks they called 'letters' - could somehow turn into words in her head. It was rather magical, when you thought about it.

The girl was not in costume, and no children came to the door, for the American tradition of trick-or-treating had not yet made its way across the Atlantic, and the family was not one for fancy-dress parties. Not that the girl was much given to fancy in general - her imagination was thus far firmly focused upon deciding which book she would next ask her mother to fetch down from the high shelves. Nor would children calling upon this home on later Hallowe'ens leave with much satisfaction - the man and the woman were both dentists.

At around the same time, quite some distance West, something horrible was happening (and also, if one was of a sufficiently pragmatic bent to consider it so, something miraculous). None of the residents of the house were aware of it, or even of the context in which the event was taking place. Nor would they ever have even learned of it, but for one simple fact; a few years hence, a certain quill would write the name Hermione Jean Granger - and beside it her birth date - in a certain book, in a certain room, in a certain tower, in a certain castle, the very existence of any of which both she and her parents would have been equally unlikely to suspect at all.

But then, look closely enough at anything important and you're bound to find a book in there somewhere, aren't you?