These are not cheerful, light or fluffy. There are no lemons or limes. They will tend to be things I will not do anything with unless there is some demand for it (if you want to see more about a particular chapter, drop a review for it).

Many of these are inspired by dreams; one might call them nightmares.

Disclaimer: The recognizably named places, names of recognizable characters and other such material is owned by their respective copyright holders. All storyline segments, situations, original characters, places and other original content is owned exclusively by the author.

Timeframe: 1994 to 1995

The group: Tonks in her official capacity as an auror on protective detail, Harry, Hermione and Ron. No chance of a HG/RW here - definitely a HP/HG story. Possible NT/RW overtones (not mentioned in this snippet)

They walked through Knockturn Alley and came to the store whose sign read "The Eye and The Hand" and beneath that "Rare Items of Antiquity, Angus Grimm, Proprietor" It was a store of questionable repute, Moody had explained, specializing in those thankfully 'hard-to-find' items. Hermione had asked Moody what he had meant by that but had explained it was something she would have to discover for herself.

"Touch nothing in the store unless you check it for curses first," he had said as they left.

Upon entering the store, one found a dark, incense-smoke filled room, reminiscent of a bar where only pipes and cigars were smoked. There was enough room for patrons to stand at a chest-high counter and enough room for the shopkeeper to walk behind the counter to service customers. The windows were obscured, the back wall painted black. A thick layer of dust covered the floor. The counter was stained here and there. There were, what appeared to be, two sets of three deep claw marks in the top of the counter nearest the entrance. There was a door in the center of the back wall. They had been told that if you were not known to the shopkeeper, you had to know precisely what you were looking for. If the shopkeeper knew you as a good customer, he may offer up any items he had recently acquired.

As they walked in, they felt the wards flair. The room pulsed blood red, then cyan for a moment. Harry and Hermione were the only ones in the room.

Tonks and Ron looked around. They were both now standing on the steps of Gringotts. "What the...?" Tonks said then grabbed Ron's hand and began pulling him back towards Knockturn Alley.

Harry and Hermione noticed Tonks and Ron missing but the door behind them would not open. They turned at the noise of the door opening behind the counter.

"Ah. Lord Potter," said a hunched man behind the counter, wearing yellow torn, tattered robes and wearing a bone-colored mask with brown runes scribed into it. Only his eyes could be seen brightly dancing in the torchlight. He then looked at Hermione and she felt a chill run down her spine. "Such a lovely, fresh," he paused for a moment and sniffed loudly, the smile clearly evident in his eyes, "unspoiled, young girl."

Hermione fight-or-flight instinct caused her to take a step to stand behind Harry.

The eyes looked back at Harry. "Buying or," the eyes looked past Harry's shoulder at Hermione, then back at Harry, "selling?"

"Browsing," Harry said, reaching behind him, taking Hermione's hand and pulling her right up next to him. Her other hand found his shoulder and she wrapped the other around his waist.

"Pity," the shopkeeper said then his voice brightened again, "but still, a sale is a sale. Come with me then," he said.

A space appeared in the counter and the shopkeeper opened the back door, although nothing could be seen. He gestured for them to enter ahead of him.

Harry was hesitant to take Hermione any closer to this person but they were told he had what they needed to rid the world of Voldemort. He really had no choice. He walked through the door, holding on tightly to Hermione's arm. What little light the torches from the bar had cast extinguished when the door behind them closed. In front of them and to the right, a harsh, sun-bright point of light came on, illuminating a display case on a pedestal covered in black velvet.

The shopkeeper then came into view as a spoke, softly lit from some unknown source that followed him as he walked over to the pedestal.

"A new item of interest," the proprietor said directing their attention to the glass-topped case. What they saw was grotesque...macabre...Dark! He continued, "A Cambodian-style fetish necklace, made of dried human fetuses. Known as 'smoke children,'" he looked back over at Hermione and his eyes came alight at her expression of disgust, "they protect the wearer from any physical harm." The shopkeeper then laughed maniacally for a moment. "One has to question the sanity of anyone who chooses to wear it, though."

He looked back and forth between Harry and Hermione, who remained silent.

"No? Very well," another pedestal a few feet ahead on the left lit up as the light faded to darkness on the necklace.

The shopkeeper gestured to the pedestal as he walked towards it, Harry and Hermione following him a few metres behind. On the pedestal was another glass-topped case. Looking in was a leather pouch next to a small, ten-centimeter tall monkey carved from black wood. It seemed quite old and worn, but it was still possible to discern its leering features.

"Here we have a primitive curio," the shopkeeper said with a slight chuckle. "We received it from the estate of the late Lord Westfield. It is believed to be cursed, and this may be true," he paused then continued, "for when he received it, he began complaining of horrible nightmares of a black stalking creature creeping closer and closer." He stopped again, his eyes gleaming once more as he spoke. "The victim," he paused, his voice apologetic, "excuse me, Lord Westfield died one night shortly after these nightmares began. They say it seemed his flesh was torn away as if by large, powerful claws." He paused again and then continued brightly, "And now it is here for your purchasing pleasure," the smile now back in his voice.

Hermione felt as if she was about to become physically ill. The shopkeeper looked at her, causing her to focus on him. "No?" the shopkeeper asked.

Harry remained silent and impassive, as Moody had told him to be. Hermione violently shook her head, swallowing to keep the bile from rising in her throat.

"Well, perhaps something for the Lady," he said mirthfully.

Another light came on, illuminating another pedestal ahead on the right. As before, the light on the pedestal they were at went out and they followed the shopkeeper over to the now-illuminated one. They looked into the clear top of the case. There were three small, seemingly blood-encrusted rings, connected via fine-wrought chains. Beside these was a barbed, spiked, pear-shaped object with a small, long-handled crank shaft coming out of the narrow end.

"Here we have a set of pretties for the ladies. These are from the estate of the late Countess Anastasia de Minet. They are a wrought set of platinum piercing rings and matching Pear of Anguish. It is our understanding this was the Countess' favourite set of these," the shopkeeper said, clearly looking at the items with fondness. He then looked up at the sounds of Harry swallowing to keep the bile from rising in his throat and Hermione retching. "Perhaps something more formal," he said in a regretful tone.

They went from illuminated pedestal to illuminated pedestal seemingly for hours.

Finally the shopkeeper said, "I am almost out of items to show you, Lord. Ah! I know," he said, touching the chin of his mask, "something for the two of you," he said, the smile returning to his eyes once more. A light illuminated a pedestal to the right and the three walked to it. In the large case atop the pedestal were two long, black, tattered cloaks with ornately runed, finely-crafted brooches which seemed to glow of their own accord. Between the two cloaks were swords whose carving and runes matched those of the brooches.

"These are from the estate of the late Lord Benton. Sadly, he and his lady wife of two days were found dead in a room magically sealed by the Lord himself, both naked and both apparently stabbed many, many times by blades such as these. They say the young lovers quarreled endlessly once they were married," he said speculatively, looking back and forth between Harry and Hermione. Harry was planning to remain impassive and look at the next item when he looked more closely at the rune cluster on the hilt. It was the same cluster as was carved into the legendary Sword of Gryffindor.

"These," Harry said simply.

Both Harry and Hermione startled at the sudden, loud, single clap of the shopkeepers hands. "Excellent choice, My Lord. Such exquisite taste in your possessions," the shopkeeper said mirthfully, leering at Hermione before turning his attention once more to the case's contents.

"Now as to price, do you wish to pay gold or would you like to barter?" the shopkeeper said, his gaze piercing Hermione. Hermione felt as if hands were slowly running over every square inch of her body, inside of her most sensitive places, checking her for imperfections. Hermione pulled herself as tightly against Harry as she could, gripping his hand in desperation. She squirmed and made panicked mewling noises but could not get the feeling of the hands to stop running over her.

"Gold," Harry said, trying to keep his emotions in check at Hermione's discomfort. Moody had been very clear on this, to complete the transaction in gold.

The shopkeeper's shoulders drooped theatrically, "very well then," his voice sounded dejected, "gold it shall be." He moved to hand Harry a card, which Harry reached for then remembered Moody's warning in his head, "Touch nothing in the store unless you check it for curses first..." and returned his hand to his side and simply looked at the card.

The shopkeeper sighed in disappointment as Harry's hand moved away from the card and he leaned in closer to read it.

If Hermione had looked at the card, all she would have seen were twisting, indecipherable runes. As it was, her attention was all to acutely drawn to what seemed to be being done to her body.

When Harry looked at the card, the writing seemed to move and writhe across the card until they finally coagulated into a painful script which simply read, "10,000G".

Harry's eyes never left the shopkeeper, who was rubbing his hands back and forth looking back and forth between the contents of the case and up and down what he could see of Hermione, as Harry took care of the transaction. Harry pulled an empty Gringotts bag from his robes and handed it to Hermione to hold at his waist. He then removed a fountain pen and a Gringotts Writ and filled it out for the correct amount, jabbed his thumb with the lancet on the pen and placed a drop of blood on the writ. He returned the pen to his robes and, taking the bag from Hermione, dropped the writ into the bag. Moments later, Harry felt the bag begin to fill. He upended the seemingly empty bag as gold poured onto the floor in a mostly-neat pile. The few coins that seemed to roll away on the floor quickly turned around and hopped onto the top of the pile.

"Would you like the items wrapped to take with you or shall I have them delivered?" the shopkeeper asked.

"Delivered," Harry said tightly. Hermione was making quiet mewling noises of fear as she once again felt invisible hands at her wrists and knees slowly, methodically making their way towards her torso.

"Very well sir," the shopkeeper said. He once again clapped loudly. The light above the pedestal went out and Harry found himself standing at the entrance to Knockturn Alley. Hermione was holding on to him so tightly he was having trouble breathing. Her eyes were closed tightly and she whimpered pitifully.

Just as Harry blinked his eyes to adjust them to the brightness of the noon day sun, Tonks and Ron came running around the corner.

"What happened, Harry? Hermione, are you okay?" Tonks asked, seeing Hermione moulding herself to Harry, making fearful noises.