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Obsessmuch: Eden

1. Capture..........................................................................................................................................................3
2. Fear..............................................................................................................................................................16
3. The Virtue of Obedience............................................................................................................................28
4. Hell...............................................................................................................................................................46
5. Cruel Hope..................................................................................................................................................72
6. Persuasion...................................................................................................................................................86
7. Vengeance..................................................................................................................................................105
8. Questions and Answers............................................................................................................................125
9. Intermission...............................................................................................................................................145
10. Power Struggle........................................................................................................................................160
11. Breakthrough..........................................................................................................................................177
12. Betrayal...................................................................................................................................................192
13. Unknown Emotions................................................................................................................................207
14. Twisted Negotiation................................................................................................................................217
15. Grief.........................................................................................................................................................234
16. Consequences..........................................................................................................................................244
17. Unimaginable..........................................................................................................................................257
18 Triangle.....................................................................................................................................................267
19. Like Father, Like Son.............................................................................................................................278
20. My Protector...........................................................................................................................................290
21. Our Secret................................................................................................................................................301
22. Trust me...................................................................................................................................................313
23. Losing my Innocence..............................................................................................................................332
24. The Sin of Envy.......................................................................................................................................345
25. Payment in Blood....................................................................................................................................353
26. The Fall....................................................................................................................................................364
27. Aftermath................................................................................................................................................377
28. Family......................................................................................................................................................385
29. Frozen......................................................................................................................................................398
30. Hate..........................................................................................................................................................407
31. Guilty as Sin............................................................................................................................................419
32. Scars.........................................................................................................................................................434
33. Damaged Beyond Repair.......................................................................................................................461
34. Irredeemable...........................................................................................................................................477
35. Nightmares..............................................................................................................................................487
36. Lost...........................................................................................................................................................505
37. Love..........................................................................................................................................................517
38. Untreatable Wounds...............................................................................................................................525
39. Destruction..............................................................................................................................................538
40. My choice.................................................................................................................................................548
41. Ultimatum...............................................................................................................................................556
42. Truth........................................................................................................................................................564
43. Proof.........................................................................................................................................................571
44. Eden.........................................................................................................................................................587
45. Back to Basics.........................................................................................................................................597
46. Before the Storm.....................................................................................................................................605
47. Day of Judgement...................................................................................................................................618
48. Apocalypse...............................................................................................................................................645
49. Escape from Eden...................................................................................................................................668
50. Epilogue...................................................................................................................................................688

1. Capture
This story is set in the Trio's seventh year of Hogwarts, when Harry, Ron and Hermione are
seventeen/eighteen. Pretend Deathly Hallows never happened while reading for simplicity's sake.
Like fluff? You're in the wrong place.
Romance? Wrong place.
Comedy? Happy endings? Thrills, spills, laughs and games?
Wrong place.
Parental advisory Explicit Lyrics.
Warning not for the faint-hearted. Read at your own risk.
Danger high voltage.
Want some PWP? Go to the lovely people at adult fan fiction .net. They have an array of suitable titles.
Mind the step.
Hermione is not a kick-ass super-witch. Nor is she weak, feeble and useless. She likes Ron. In a like like
way. She lacks confidence. I will not be writing her in any other way.
Keep out of reach of children.
Lucius Malfoy is not a nice man who is simply misunderstood. Nor is he a perverse rapist. Even taking into
account the final book, it is my opinion that he is an evil pure-blood supremist, and I have no intention of
redeeming him.
Caution highly flammable.
Nor have I any intention of portraying Ron Weasley as a moron. I adore Ron, so that's that.
Rated M for strong violence, explicit language, and sexual content.
This is not a 'Luciuous kidnaps 'Mione and they have teh smex' story. This is a story about hatred, obsession,
fear and prejudice, not about sex and lust.
Well, not just sex and lust.
Warning Thunderstorms likely. Take cover.
Still interested? Then take my hand and take a walk with me on the dark side.
You might always enjoy it. You won't know unless you try.
Oh, just jump in. I dare you!

'Of Man's first disobedience, and the fruit


Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden.' John Milton, Paradise Lost

'She had a bossy sort of voice, lots of bushy brown hair and rather large front teeth "Nobody in my
family's magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased I've learnt
all our set books off by heart, of course, I just hope it will be enough I'm Hermione Granger..."' J. K.
Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
'The man who followed could only be Draco's father. He had the same pale, pointed face and identical cold
grey eyes Mr Malfoy's eyes had returned to Hermione, who went slightly pink, but stared determinedly
back at him. Harry knew exactly what was making Mr Malfoy's lip curl. The Malfoys prided themselves on
being pure-bloods; in other words, they considered anyone of Muggle descent, like Hermione, second
class' J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

'DEATH-EATERS AMONG US ONCE MORE!'


'A source from the Ministry of Magic has told the Prophet that there has, one again, been a mass breakout
from Azkaban. Our informant, who wishes to remain anonymous, claims that the new security measures put
in place after the desertion of the Dementors were not enough to keep six dangerous prisoners locked up.
'They (the ministry) tried almost everything; I lost count of how many new spells they put on the place. They
put hundreds of Aurors on guard duty; at one point they even thought of using trolls as security back-up. But
nothing could match up to the effectiveness of the Dementors. The prisoners could feel happiness, and so
were, I believe, able to keep their heads and plan their escape.'
Our source wishes to make it clear that it is yet unknown how the prisoners escaped. However, they not only
claim that all of the six escapees are known Death Eaters, but also that the Ministry is fully aware of the
breakout, and that a cover-up is being attempted.
'The Minister doesn't want the public to know that he's failed to protect them. He's built his reputation on
being strong, and doesn't want to lose his job after only a year.'
Rufus Scrimgeour has refused to comment on this story.'
I sit back after reading the article, allowing the newspaper to fall onto my desk.
I don't know why this has shocked me. There's been a bigger breakout than this before. And it's not as if it's
entirely unexpected. It was always the Dementors that kept the prisoners where they were, not Azkaban
itself. I suppose we all knew, deep down, that it was only a matter of time before more prisoners would
manage to escape.
All the same, knowing that it was probably going to happen anyway doesn't make things any better. Six
more Death-Eaters are on the loose. As if the Order needs more trouble, what with Dumbledore's death and
Snape's defection.
I pick up the paper and read the article again, my eyes skimming quickly over the tiny black print.
It doesn't say who has escaped. It could be anyone. All it says is there were six of them.
4

I put the paper down and walk over to my window. There's a hollow, tickling feeling in the pit of my
stomach. It's not hard to feel frightened these days, but the thought of Voldemort's army growing in size just
reminds me of how bad things are getting. Ever since Dumbledore's death, I've been wondering whether we
really can win this war...
And I'm scared. I don't like admitting it, but it's true. I'm scared for my family, and my friends, and the
Order. And for myself.
I reach my window, and find myself frightened of looking out into the street. It's so stupid, I know, but I'm
afraid of what I might see. I haven't felt like this since I was little, when I was scared of the dark and I had to
sleep with the landing light on. I'd pull my bed-covers up over my head, too frightened to look out into the
darkness of my room in case there was something there.
Are you still five years old, Hermione? Look out of the window.
I lean forward nervously, look down into the street, and I see
Nothing.
Well. I see the dark suburban road, the parked cars, the identical houses, and the moon in the black sky.
There's nothing at all unusual out there.
I sigh and lean against the window, pressing my forehead against the cold glass.
Some Gryffindor I am. Too scared to even look out of a bloody window at the street I've lived in since the
day I was born!
But but even as I look every patch of darkness, every shadow, seems to become a Death-Eater's robe.
I bite the inside of my cheek before I turn away from the window and sit down at my desk, pulling one of
my legs up and hugging it to myself for comfort.
I'll feel safer at the Burrow.
Yes. The Burrow. It won't just be me and Harry staying there for Bill and Fleur's wedding there'll be loads
of full-grown wizards about, and protecting charms on the building itself, I imagine. It won't just be me on
my own, and I won't be putting my parents in danger
I'm really looking forward to going, actually. The Weasleys are a laugh. Fred and George will be there for the
wedding, so it certainly won't be a quiet week. And Mrs Weasley's food is always great. I'll see Harry, and
Ginny, and
And Ron?
I smile to myself and press my forehead to my knee.
I don't know now that he's done a bit of growing up and Lavender's out of the way, things could happen.
I hug my knee tighter to my chest. I want to giggle, and I don't know why.
No, actually, I know why all too well.
Get a grip, Hermione!
Maybe, after the wedding
5

After the wedding


Ron and I have told Harry that after the wedding we will go with him, wherever he goes.
That hollow, tickling sensation creeps into my stomach again.
Oh god. I don't want to admit it, but I've no idea how we can help him destroy the Horcruxes. It's just it's
such an overwhelming task to undertake.
I don't really know how I can help him at all, to be honest. Oh, I know I'm good at spells and and things,
but I've never fought in an actual battle before. Unless you count the Department of Mysteries, but I was
cursed unconscious for most of the time we were there. A fat lot of help I was then
And, although I'm ashamed to admit this, I don't want to see Voldemort. It's different for Harry, he's seen him
before and knows what he's going to face. I've only ever heard descriptions of him, and they were more than
enough for me.
But we have to go with him. He can't do it on his own, and the three of us have been through too much
together to let each other down now.
I shake my head, trying to drive the fear out of me. There's no point in worrying about it now. It's like what
Hagrid said once what's coming will come, and we'll meet it when it does.
I stretch and look at my clock. It's half past midnight. I'm not too tired yet. Perhaps I'll read for an hour and
then go to bed. After tomorrow I won't have much time to study, what with one thing or another. And I want
to keep up with my education. I know I'm not going back to school this year, but I can teach myself things to
a certain extent, and then maybe go back to school to do my N. E. W. T. s when if the war ends.
I crack open the Standard Book of Spells Grade 7, and it really does take my mind off of things. Reading
always has this effect on me. I escape into the realm of knowledge, my fear being driven out of my body as I
focus only on the facts written in front of me. I start to feel almost relaxed
A small popping noise.
My head shoots up.
WhatInvisible hands lift me up, up, and I'm thrown forward and the wall's flying towards me, ow ow ow!
Small stars burst in front of my eyes as pain smashes through every bone in my body. I can't even scream for
shock.
My wand my wand
That lone thought pulses through my head. Where is it, where is it?
But the invisible hands which hold me in place are replaced by a pair that are only too real. They're large,
and strong.
A man's hands.
I feel his entire body being pressed against mine, pushing me into the wall. His breathing is steady on the
back of my neck.
6

I swallow down, hard, my breath coming in short, terrified gasps.


Who?
After what seems like an eternity, he answers my unasked question for me.
'Well met, Mudblood.'
Oh god! I recognise that voice. Drawling, quiet, refined. So much like his son's but deeper, older.
He must have been one of the six that escaped from Azkaban.
I start to struggle, but his grip on me is so strong I can barely move.
'Don't be a fool.' The whisper in my ear is laced with amusement. 'You're nothing more than a schoolgirl. Do
you really think to emerge triumphant in a fight with a Death-Eater?'
Oh God, how the hell am I going to get out of this?
Keep calm. You need to think.
How the hell can I keep calm? There's a tornado of thoughts whirling through my head.
My wand is on my desk, my head hurts, I'm so scared that tears are starting in my eyesI won't cry in front of him. I won't be weak.
I can't breathe with the weight of him pressing me to the wall, my parents are sleeping in the next roomA wand digs into my ribs. 'That's right. Don't struggle. This whole sorry business will be over and done with
much sooner if I have your compliance. Just do as you're told, and I will have no reason to harm you.'
I breathe deeply and try to gulp down the tears of fear that are threatening to leak out on to my cheeks.
I don't know what to do. I just don't know what to do!
'What do you want?' I whisper.
'That's for me to know and for you to find out, Mudblood,' he murmurs in my ear.
I press my lips together.
What does he want me for? He doesn't even know me, not really.
No. But you know Harry, don't you?
I can't think. I'm so scared I can't think. All I know is that I can't move; he's pressing me so hard against the
wall my bones are breaking, surely to god, and if I even try to struggle he'll curse me.
Think, for god's sake!
My wand is on my desk I can see it, it's that close to me If I could
But he gets there before me. A pale hand reaches for my wand.
7

'You won't be needing this, I don't think.'


He closes his hand around my wand and snaps it effortlessly. I watch in horror as he lets the broken pieces of
wood fall to the floor. My wand, my beautiful wand
It's alright, it's just a wand. You can still get out of this, if you can just keep your nerve.
But how can I, if I don't have my wand?
'Now,' he whispers. 'If you would give me your hand, Miss Granger, we can be on our way-'
A creak. The familiar creak of the door to my parents' room.
The body pressing down on mine tenses.
There's a tentative knock at my door.
Oh, no
'Hermione?'
Mum's voice. It pierces me like a knife to the heart.
The intruder steps back from me and turns me around, pinning me back to the wall by my throat, and for the
first time since he entered my room I can see him.
I look up into the pale, pointed face of Lucius Malfoy. It's been a year since I saw him in the Department of
Mysteries, but it seems that Azkaban has not changed him. Harry told me that place changes people's looks
beyond recognition. Sirius had been a handsome, healthy man until he went in there. But then, the
Dementors had deserted Azkaban by the time Lucius was imprisoned. He has some new, deep grooves in
each of his cheeks, but this is the only difference I notice in him. His eyes are set in cold, steely
determination.
'Hermione?' Mum's voice is shaking. 'What's going on?'
The door handle moves downwards, but the door itself won't open
Oh God, why did I lock myself in earlier?
Be glad that you did. Do you think she'll last one second if she sets foot in this room?
'Your hand, Miss Granger,' Lucius repeats, holding out his free hand to me. 'Or I shall force you to watch
your filthy mother suffer torments indescribable.'
'Hermione, what's the matter, whose voice is that?'
Mum's getting hysterical. The door handle moves frantically up and down.
I don't get it. Why doesn't he just force me to apparate with him?
Maybe maybe side-along Apparation isn't possible without some degree of permission from the person
you are taking with you.
But I can't give him permission
8

'Hermione!'
She'll wake up Dad any minute and get him to break down the door.
I don't have any choice. I can save my parents now, and get myself out of this later.
I take a deep breath and I hold out my hand for him, giving him my compliance to god only knows what.
He smiles triumphantly as he grabs hold of my hand, and suddenly I'm squeezing through a tiny space, and
the air is pressing down on me, so hard I can't breathe
The next thing I know I'm in a place so dark I can't see him next to me. The only thing giving away his
presence is the hand closed tightly around my wrist.
If I can get away from him he won't find me easily here.
'Lumos!'
As he mutters the incantation his grip relaxes, just a little.
NowI struggle against his grip, twisting and pulling as he tightens his hold once more.
I look around me, trying to make out the surroundings by the light provided by his wand. Trees. Lots of
trees. I could get lost among them easily, I just need him to get off me!
I bring his hand up to my mouth and sink my teeth into his fingers. He sucks in his breath and his fingers
loosen. I pull away, but my foot slips and I fall to my side.
He's laughing at me.
I scramble up onto my feet, struggling to stay upright in the merciless wet mud underneath me, and I begin
to run. I don't care where I go; I've just got to get away from him, because I won't survive if he manages to
get me, I know that I won't.
I get about five steps forward, but then an invisible hook pulls me back by the shoulders, and before I know
where I am my feet are planted to the floor and I am standing immobile, no matter how hard I try to move.
He steps in front of me, his face furious. 'I don't think so, Mudblood.'
He presses his wand to my forehead, and a white hot pain pulses in repeated waves from the point of his
wand right through to the back of my head, like battery acid travelling through my nerve endings. It
subsides, then the wave rolls over me again, and I clench my teeth, squeeze my eyes shut, but a cry escapes
my lips, hurts, hurts, my head is going to split open, or burst, orThe pain seeps away.
I open my eyes warily and look up into his sneering face.
'Not pleasant, is it?' he asks while grabbing me by the chin, bringing his face close to mine. I can feel the
immobility curse being lifted, though his free hand grasps my arm so tightly I feel as if he's about to snap my
bones. His pale face is alight with malicious triumph. 'If you persist in misbehaving you shall find that I can
be rather inventive when it comes to inflicting pain-'
9

'As if it matters whether I behave or not!' I hiss at him, anger surging through me like a wave of nausea. 'As
if you're not going to kill me anyway! Why should I do as you say until then? I'm not about to take orders
from a Death-Eater!'
His grip on my chin tightens. 'It is time you learnt your place in the world, girl,' he says, his voice very quiet.
'We all must obey those who are above us-'
'You're not above me-'
'And you will do as I say.' He carries on as if I never interrupted him. 'Because you are worth less than the
dirt on my boots. You are a waste of air.' He pauses for effect, and locks his gaze onto mine. 'You are
nothing!'
It's like a punch in the stomach, but I won't let him win.
'And you're worth something are you?' I try to keep my voice strong, but it's hard when I'm shaking with
rage and fear. 'You think you're superior to me because of your blood's purity. It's pathetic, do you hear me!'
His whole face is darkening with anger now, but I can't stop myself. I'm terrified, and hurting, and angry, and
I won't be silenced.
'Do you expect me to cower at your knees and think of you as a powerful man? Well, I can see you for what
you are; and all I see is an inbred, bigoted coward.'
He gives a small, mirthless laugh before bringing his wand to my cheek. A sharp, burning pain streaks across
my face, but I don't cry out this time. It's only a sting, really, and it's over quickly. The magical equivalent of
a slap on the face.
'Have you never, in all of your worthless life, been taught to respect your betters?' he whispers, his features
harsh with fury.
It's my turn to laugh. I laugh right in his face before spitting in it.
I'm acting braver than I feel, and as I see the look of rage and disgust on his face, I realise that perhaps I
didn't think that one through
He lets go of my arm to wipe the spittle away from his face, keeping hold of my chin as he does so. I take
my chance and wrench myself out of his grasp, but before I can even begin to run he's got hold of me by the
arm again. He pulls me close to him, pointing his wand at my throat. His face is so close to mine I can see
that he's actually shaking with rage.
'I don't believe you quite understood me. I said I wanted obedience, and for you to know your place. And
when I want something, Mudblood, I do make sure that I get it.'
That's when I feel my throat close up.
I gasp or I try to
But I don't, because I can't.
I try to breathe, but my windpipe is completely blocked.
Oh God, oh God
10

I frantically try to inhale some air, but all I'm doing is heaving pointlessly because there's nothing I can do.
My lungs scream for oxygen, my chest feels like it's collapsing, and I go so light-headed that I can't stand up,
and I'm falling and please don't let me die! I'm desperately, desperately trying to breatheAnd then my airways open and my lungs are filled so quickly with wonderful, cold air that I begin to cough
violently, all the while trying to fill my body with as much oxygen as possible. I cough until my chest hurts
and my eyes stream. I'm in such a state that I don't care that I'm kneeling at his feet, clinging to the front of
his robes to support me as I gasp for air.
Kneeling at his feet. One of the things you just swore you'd never do
He waits until my coughing subsides before kicking out at me. He catches me in the chest and I fall onto my
side. I lie there massaging my ribs, and the tears that I have been fighting so hard against slowly begin to run
down my cheeks.
'Let that be a lesson to you, you useless Muggle,' he says quietly. 'I do not take disrespect lightly. Especially
coming from a filthy Mudblood such as yourself. Now get up.' He gives me a small kick in the back, like I'm
a dog that won't move when he tells it to. 'I don't deny that crawling on the floor with vermin suits you, but
we have an appointment to keep, and we don't want to keep our host waiting. So if I'm not rushing you'
I lie still, my mind going into over-drive.
Okay, so I know what he's doing now. He's taking me to someone else. At least now I know
But but just him on his own is bad enough, but I don't want to face who-knows how many Death-Eaters!
Or even he couldn't be taking me to I don't want to see him
'Still insisting on rebellion are we? Very well-'
The invisible pair of hands pull me up again and set me on my feet, before he places an immobilisation curse
on me once more.
'Do you believe that what you have experienced so far even comes close to the pain I could inflict upon
you?' He walks slowly around me, his voice pulsing with anger. 'You will learn obedience, you little Muggle
bitch, or you will discover that I can become rather ill-tempered when provoked.' He stops behind me, and
lifts up my hair to whisper in my ear. 'Believe me when I tell you, Miss Granger, that by the end of our time
together you will want to obey me. Want to.'
I'll obey you when hell freezes over, you evilThe immobility curse is lifted and I fall to the ground.
God what's what's wrong with me? I'm not that weak; I know that I'm not.
I try to pull myself to my feet, and I...
And I can't.
All of my body has gone entirely limp, and I can't move a single muscle.
He crouches down next to me, and pulls one of my arms up and around his neck before picking me up in his
arms.
I try to struggle
11

But I can't.
All of my body is heavy and lifeless, like every muscle has just stopped working.
I've never felt so helpless in my entire life.
And I don't want him to bloody carry me! Bloody Malfoy's father? I don't think so.
'Don't go expecting this sort of treatment regularly,' he mutters as he begins to walk through the forest,
carrying me with him. 'This is only necessary because you wouldn't come quietly. If me carrying you around
is abhorrent to you, then you can only blame yourself, and rest easy with the knowledge that the feeling is
entirely mutual.'
My head falls back uncomfortably, and I can't move it forward. The back of my neck burns, and there's
nothing I can do to stop it.
He moves quickly, his wand illuminating our path through the trees.
Oh god, I don't want to see the Death-Eaters. I've seen them enough times to last me a life-time. The
memories of that night at the Ministry still terrify me. I still have nightmares about that Lestrange woman
threatening to torture Ginny when Harry wouldn't give her the prophecy.
It wasn't the threat itself that frightened me the most. It was the way she seemed so excited as she
threatened a fifteen year old girl. There was an inhuman light of joy in her eyes at the prospect.
And then there was the man who hit me with that silent, painful curse. Dolohov, I think his name was. I
never saw his face or heard his voice, but I can still remember the feeling of that curse, as if something had
sliced through my chest and then nothing but blackness. My ribs were bruised for weeks afterwards.
And there are others. MacNair, the man that used to kill animals for the Ministry; Greyback, who mutilated
Bill. Harry told me that Greyback relishes turning people into werewolves.
And Draco will Draco be with them?
But all I can hope for is that he won't be taking me to him. I've never seen him before, and I want to keep
it that way. The way that Harry described him was enough to give me nightmares; I don't know whether I
can handle actually seeing him
In what seems like no time at all we arrive outside a derelict old shack in a part of the woods so dense that I
cannot see the sky.
He puts me down on the floor. My head rolls lifelessly to the side, and I can see him pull a long, thin, silver
key out of his robes, which he uses to unlock the door to the hut. The door clicks open, and he bends down to
pick me up again and carries me into the shack.
I look around as far as I can without the ability to move my head. The interior of the place looks like I would
expect it to look from the outside of it; neglected, filthy and dark. He lays me on the floor again, and this
time my head rolls away from him and I can't see what he's doing. He hasn't said a word to me since he
began to carry me.
Why has he bought me here? What would they need me for? To give information about the order?
Information on Harry?
Do they just want to punish me for being Muggle born? Or do they want to use me to get to my friends?
12

I don't know how these people's minds work; do they kill for business or for pleasure?
Perhaps they're not going to kill you. Who knows how these people get their kicks?
I would shudder if I could. I don't want to think about about that.
But but there have been stories. Horror stories about what captives of the Death Eaters have been through.
And witches the stories about witches that have been captured contain their own world of horror.
I close my eyes. I can't think about that. I've got to distract myself.
He's taking his time in here. I wish I could see what he's doing.
What are my parents going to do when they finally get into my room and they see that I'm gone? I can't bear
the thought of how upset they'll be, and how frightened
They'll contact the Order. I told them that they should let the Order know if I go missing before they inform
the police. I've taught them how to use an owl to contact them in case of an emergency. The Order will find
me, they'll save meHow? You don't even know where you are, how are they going to know where to find you?
The sick, empty sensation of hopelessness washes over me.
A noise fills the room. It's like stone grinding against stone. When it stops he walks over to lift me up again,
and carries me down what seems to be a large stone staircase going down into the floor. I'm sure it wasn't
there when we first came in. As we go down the stairs the hole we entered through closes in above us.
Wherever we're going I'm not going to be able to escape easily.
If you can escape
Down, down, through what seems to be a long, narrow cave. We keep going for ages and ages. He doesn't
say anything to me. All I can hear is his light breathing, and my own.
I don't know how I feel about this. I don't want him to talk to me, and even if I did I don't think I'd be able to
answer him in my current state.
But still the silence has given me too much time to think about what's going to happen to me.
There's nothing I can do to save myself. I'm completely alone. I've always had Harry, or Ron, or somebody
with me whenever I've been in danger
Harry and Ron. What are they going to do when I don't turn up at the Burrow tomorrow?
Oh God, Bill and Fleur's wedding. It'll be ruined!
We come to what looks like a dead end, and he sets me down on the cold, damp floor. My head rolls to the
side and I can see him as he shakes back his elegant sleeve, exposing the Dark Mark on his arm. He presses
the tattooed skin to the wall of the tunnel, and the dead end melts away to reveal the way ahead. He picks me
up again and carries me through the passageway, and I hear rather than see the way close up again behind us.
I'm completely and utterly trapped.
A lone tear escapes from the corner of my eye and rolls down my face.
13

He lays me down on the floor, my head facing upwards. We must be quite far underground; the ceiling of
this place is very high.
His face moves above mine. It's half in shadow, but I can see the expression of gloating written there as clear
as day.
'You know, it is tempting to keep you like this,' he murmurs. He picks up one of my arms and lets it drop
again. 'So docile, so obedient.' He moves his face yet closer to mine. It's horribly contorted by shadow. 'So
completely and utterly submissive.'
Oh God, he wouldn't oh no, please
'However.' His voice is suddenly cool and clipped once again. He stands up and I can't see him anymore. 'I
don't want to touch you any more than I have to. It's disgusting that I should have to carry a Mudblood
around.'
I'm partly relieved by that statement, but at the same time enraged by it. It's a peculiar feeling.
He gives me another small kick. 'Get up.'
A shiver runs through me. I think I think I can move again.
I slowly pull myself up onto my feet. My legs shake under me like jelly, and all the blood rushes to my head
I stand up fully, swaying slightly on the spot.
He's standing in front of me, a small, patronising smile on his face. He leans forward and pats me on the
cheek as if I'm a child.
'Good girl.'
He steps back and offers me his arm, his eyebrows raised in a mocking challenge.
I just stare back at him. I won't let him toy with me.
'What did I tell you about obedience, Mudblood?'
Don't let him beat you, Hermione.
I take a deep breath. I'm not a Gryffindor for nothing.
'You told me that we all have to obey those who are above us. You told me that you are above me, and
therefore I have to do as you say.'
He smiles evilly at me. 'Well, my son always told me you were a know-it-all, but now I realise that you are
simply a fast learner-'
'I am only a fast learner of facts,' I say, straightening myself up in an attempt to steel my nerve. 'But I've
never been one to believe anything I'm told without question. And what you told me was a blatant lie. So,
you see, I won't obey you. I'll die first.'
His cold eyes narrow in anger. He flicks his wand upwards, and my arm is twisted mercilessly up my back. I
sink my teeth into my lip to stop myself from yelling in agony.
'You'll die first, will you?' He's standing over me, watching me struggle against the pain. 'I've lost count of
the number of fully grown wizards who have told me that they'd die before they'll do as I ask. And believe
14

me when I say that it doesn't take me long to have them screaming for mercy, begging me on their knees to
let them live.' He flicks his wand again, and my arm is released. I fall to the ground in sheer relief, and he
laughs quietly. 'Something tells me that you won't be any different, Mudblood.'
I lie still, just for a moment, trying to get my breath back.
Perhaps if I just keep quiet, he won't hurt me. Why antagonise him further?
Where's your courage, Hermione? You're a Gryffindor, remember?
I clench my jaw, and begin to push myself up from the ground, allowing that thought to hook into me and
pull me upwards.
'I'll never give you that satisfaction.' I stand up fully, and look him straight in the eye. 'You murderous
bastard!'
He slaps me hard across the face with the back of his hand. No wands this time.
My head snaps back with the blow and I taste blood in my mouth. I rub at my cheek, and when I look back
at him I see pure hatred etched all over his face.
For a few moments we just look at each other. He's breathing heavily, as if he's been running.
I've never had anyone look at me like like that before. I've never had someone hate me so much when they
didn't know me at all. People have called me Mudblood, but usually I've been disliked primarily for being
clever, or bossy, or a friend of Harry's. Being Muggle-born is just another insult they can hurl at me.
But with Lucius Malfoy, I can see pure hate in his eyes, and it's all because of something I am, not
something I've done.
And I realise then that there's nothing I'll ever be able to do to change that. How could I change what I am,
or apologise for it, even if I wanted to?
Well, if he hates me then the feeling is entirely reciprocated. I hate him. I hate him for what he has done, and
I hate him for what he is; a prejudiced, unfeeling sadist.
Gradually he seems to regain his control. His breathing slows and his face grows calm once more.
'It seems strange to me that you have not asked me where we are,' he says, his voice quietly controlled. 'I
would have thought that your irritating know-it-all attitude would have led to some curiosity about where I
have brought you.'
He grips me by the shoulders and turns me around, showing me where we are.
It's not the hall itself that terrifies me. It looks almost like what I imagined the Chamber of Secrets to look
like when Harry told me about it green flamed torches, black stone walls, pillars entwined with stone
serpents. No, it's the throne at the head of the hall that scares me. An empty throne with a huge stone snake
rearing up behind it.
It's so dark it takes me a few seconds to realise there are people moving along the hall towards us. People in
black robes.
My stomach knots with fear, and I start shaking uncontrollably. I can't oh god, I can't
15

'You are fortunate that our host appears to be otherwise engaged,' Lucius murmurs in my ear. 'Were he here I
am sure he would be only too pleased to teach you a few lessons in respect and obedience. But don't fret.
Soon, very soon, you shall come back here and meet him, and I'm sure you shall find him most
accommodating.'
I must be in the Death-Eaters' headquarters.
And although I don't know why I've been brought here, or what they are going to do to me, or who I am
going to see, one thing is clear
I'm never going to get out of this place!
The dark figures are getting closer. One of them calls over to us. His voice is deep, with a slight Russian
accent; 'He's not here Lucius, but he wants to see her when he gets back. He says to put her away for now.'
He? Who? Not no I CAN'T FACE HIM!!
Lucius' hands have left my shoulders'Stupefy!'
I feel the rush of the spell before it hits me, and then
Darkness.
2. Fear
'I feel the dread of this horrible place over-powering me; I am in fear in awful fear and there is no
escape for me; I am encompassed about with terrors that I dare not think of.' Bram Stoker, Dracula
Fear, noun - a painful emotion excited by danger; apprehension of danger or pain; alarm; solicitude,
anxiety; that which causes alarm; risk or possibility; reverence or awe.

It's so dark
Where am I?
I drag my eyelids up, and all I can see is darkness. An odd, green darkness.
God, I'm thirsty.
A groan eases from my parched lips.
My vision's blurry. I can only see that strange, dark green colour.
Where am I?
I blink, and things sharpen into focus. A low ceiling, black stone, green light
And then I remember.
16

I sit up quickly, wincing with pain. Every muscle in my body aches, but the pain in my head is the worst of
it. It's so bad my ears are ringing. It's like I've been hit around the head with a troll's club.
I look around me while rubbing the back of my neck.
I'm in a tiny well, I suppose it's a cell.
I blink several times. It's hard not to. The lone, green-flamed torch gives light enough to see everything in
the room, but leaves it dark enough to hurt my eyes with strain.
Not that there's much to see, apart from that pile of straw with a blanket over it which I assume is meant to
be a bed of some kind.
I suppose it could be worse.
How could this situation possibly be any worse?
I'm not hurt yet. And I'm still alive.
I take a deep breath. I need to be logical.
First am I alright?
I look down at myself. There are bruises the shape of fingers imprinted on my arm, which is hardly
surprising; he held me so tightly I thought he was going to break my arm. No, what surprises me is how
dirty I am. It must have been muddy out there. My clothes are covered in filth.
I run my fingers along the fabric of my jeans, scraping the cold, wet dirt onto my finger-tips and under my
nails. I bring my hand up in front of my face, and I rub the mud between my fingers and my thumb. The
squelching sensation is kind of comforting.
I move my fingers to my other arm, to the bruises that he left there. I circle the marks, tracing the purple
imprints with my dirty fingers, ignoring the slight throb of pain the pressure causes.
Those bruises must have surfaced quickly. Either that, or I must have been here for quite a long time.
Would I have arrived at the Burrow by now if he hadn't appeared in my bedroom?
My nose and throat sting.
What the hell do they want me for? Why couldn't they leave me alone?
I don't know what they're going to do to me here, but I can imagine. They must need me for something;
otherwise Lucius would have killed me as soon as he found me.
I shiver. I know how these people go about making people do what they want. All I can think about is when I
saw Neville's poor mother in St. Mungo's; her eyes completely blank, her hair falling out. She can't even
recognise her own son, for crying out loud. What kind of horrors must they have put her through, to put her
in that state?
How could I hold out against that sort of pain? Harry told me it's like nothing you've ever experienced until
you feel it.
I wish Harry was here with me.
17

I wish Ron were here with me.


I curl myself up into a ball, hugging myself and resting my head on my knees.
Does anyone know that I'm missing yet?
Maybe they've sent people to try and rescue me
OK. So members of the Order are simply going to walk right into the Death-Eaters' secret lair and save you,
are they?
I close my eyes, irritated at my own stupid hopefulness.
Poor Mum and Dad. What are they going to do? They know about the war, I've told them all about it, but to
be honest I don't think they ever completely understood the danger
Until now.
I wish more than anything that I was at home. I wish I'd just woken up in my own bed, and that right now I
was getting ready to go to the Burrow. Mum would be fussing about how I should have a proper breakfast,
and Dad would be loading my luggage into the car. They don't like Apparation; they'd insisted that they
would drive me there.
I want my Mum. I want her to give me a cuddle and tell me everything will be alright, and that she and Dad
will look after me.
And I want to see Ron and Harry. They've always been so awkward in comforting me whenever something's
upset me. That awkwardness would be so welcome now.
What will they do? Will they give up their pursuit of Voldemort's Horcruxes to come and find me?
I hope not. I want them to carry on, not to waste a second on me
But I know deep down that they'll tell themselves that the destruction of Voldemort can wait, and that they
should try to rescue me first.
And in the meantime, precious time will be wasted, and more people will be killed while Voldemort still
lives.
Maybe that was part of their motive in bringing me here. Both Lucius and Voldemort himself know that
Harry will drop everything in order to save a friend.
And Ron will go with him, putting himself in danger as well.
What if they end up hurt because of me?
Come on. Don't pretend that you doesn't want them to come and rescue you
I give myself a shake. I don't want to pursue that thought.
I won't let myself cry. I won't. While I'm alive, there's still hope. I won't think about my friends, or my
parents, or what might be about to happen to me.
I'm going to focus on where I am, and nothing else.
18

I stand up and walk over to the cell door standing on tiptoe so I can see through the tiny barred window in it.
Okay. A corridor. Just like my cell, really, and lined with other doors like mine.
Maybe I'm not alone.
'Hello?' I call out.
Silence.
The door has no handle, but still I push against it with all of my might. I push and push, until with a cry of
sheer frustration I turn back to the room, blowing my hair out of my sweating face.
Alright. Is there anything else?
No. Nothing except the four walls, and that 'bed' in the corner.
Bastards. Making people sleep on straw like animals. Even in Azkaban, I remember Sirius saying, they give
you a proper bed.
Yes, but they also used to lock people up with creatures that sucked all of the joy out of you.
That's different most of Azkaban's prisoners were Death-Eaters.
So Sirius and Hagrid were Death-Eaters, were they?
However they treat the people in Azkaban, it's nothing compared to what these people do to their enemies.
Are you sure about that?
I push that thought out of my mind, and crouch down by my new 'bed'. I pull the blanket up, and begin to
search through the straw. I don't know what exactly it is that I'm looking for. Maybe a former prisoner left
something here for the next poor sod that ended up in this cell.
But all the star hides is a bare stone floor.
I sit back on the ground, trying not to be disappointed.
What were you thinking? That someone would have left you a wand, a disguise, and a plan of the building?
I can taste the bitterness of tears in my throat again as I look blankly at the mess I've made of what I'm
supposed to sleep on
Hang on a minute what's that?
There's something written on the bottom of the wall by the pile of straw.
I shift closer to it. The writing is raggedy; like it's been carved over time with a tiny stone or even a
fingernail.
'To the Order Don't let them win'
I gasp in shock.
'Don't let them win'
19

I don't move my eyes from that message. I'm drawing strength from those letters. They're imprinting
themselves on my brain.
'Don't let them win'
I won't. I can't. I won't help them win this war. I don't care what they do to me; they'll get nothing from me,
nothing
I hear a soft murmuring, growing louder every second. I listen carefully.
Men's voices, moving slowly down the corridor.
There can't be any silencing spells on these walls. I must be the only prisoner here.
Or the only prisoner here still in a fit state to talk.
I crawl over to my door and press my ear against it.
'no doubt will insist on putting up a tedious 'struggle'.'
It's him. The bastard who brought me here.
'Wasn't she one of those brats we ran into at the Ministry?'
That deeper, accented voice doesn't belong to him. I think it's the one I heard earlier, telling Lucius to put me
away for the time being.
'Yes, she was there.' The voices stop near my door, and there's a short pause. 'Damn, we're late.'
'Well then we'd better get a move on, hadn't we-'
'No, you go on, Antonin. There's no point in keeping you detained here. Could you send my apologies to the
Dark Lord, and tell him I shall bring the girl to him presently.'
The Dark Lord? Oh God, no!
I hear footsteps dying away. Then there's a muttered incantation, and a click.
I kick myself back across the floor to the other side of the room and press myself, crouched, against the wall.
It's him. Lucius Malfoy. Or 'Lucius Fucking La-di-da Malfoy', as Ron sometimes calls him.
He's no joke to me now.
He steps into the room, and greets me with a mocking smile.
'Ah, you're awake. Good. Bringing people round after a stunning can take time. How considerate of you to
save me the bother.'
Hate surges through me like an electric current from my stomach right to the tips of my fingers and toes.
He seems oblivious to my loathing. 'Did you sleep well, Mudblood?'
Go to hell.
20

He laughs lightly at the look on my face.


'But of course you did. Forgive me.' He gestures around the room flourishingly. 'And how do you like your
accommodation? It's not the biggest room we've got, I grant you, but it certainly has atmosphere.'
I stare at him uncomprehendingly.
'But then, you grew up in a Muggle house, didn't you?' He's still smiling that twisted smile. 'I daresay that
this charming little room seems like a palace compared to the kind of living conditions you are used to.'
It sounds so much like something his pathetic son would say.
How did Harry reply to Draco's insults? With his fists, usually. Ron was the same, but whenever he did
bother to use words his comebacks were always the most simple, and yet, in a way, the most brilliant
I look Lucius in the eye, and I feel Ron's words come out of my mouth:
'Sod off, Malfoy.'
He raises his eyebrows, though the rest of his expression remains unfathomable.
'I'm not going to dignify that pitiful response with an answer.' He holds his hand out to me. 'Come. My
master wishes to see you, and he will not take kindly to being kept waiting.'
His Master?
No, I can't.
My body curls in on itself in terror, and I press myself closer to the wall.
Now he definitely is smiling. But it's not a pleasant expression. It puts me in mind of a friendly snake.
'Ah, not so brave now are we, Miss Granger?' He walks slowly across the room until he's standing over me,
that horrible, gloating smirk not leaving his face. 'Where's that irritating Gryffindor courage of yours?
Deserted you at the mention of the Dark Lord, has it?' He raises his eyebrows and runs his eyes over me in
distaste. 'I'm not surprised. You're not exactly his favourite class of person. But you can be rest assured that
for the moment you are quite safe. He doesn't want you killed yet.'
I stay still, breathing deeply, clinging onto that 'yet'. That 'yet' gives me time, at least.
Time for what?
I don't know. Just time.
'Now,' he steps back from me again, 'will you do as you're told and come with me, or will I have to use force
once more?'
No.
It's all I can cling on to. I won't go. I won't.
Going with him is not an option for me.
I press myself further into the wall, wanting more than anything to disappear into it.
21

He waits a few moments, before rolling his eyes and flicking his wand in my direction.
An invisible, irresistible force hooks into my chest and pulls me up on to my feet. He steps towards me,
looking down into my face.
'There's no use in trying to get out of this one, Mudblood,' he says, not troubling to disguise the exasperation
in his voice. 'The Dark Lord wishes to see you, and if you think he will tolerate disobedience then you are a
fool.'
I look up in to those cold, grey eyes. I don't know what I'm looking for. Compassion, perhaps, or even just a
hint of kindness. But there's nothing. I may as well be looking into a frozen lake, for all the warmth I might
see.
'Are you a fool, Miss Granger?'
I scowl up at him. 'No.'
'Then prove it.' He twirls his wand through his fingers. 'Don't make this any more difficult than it has to be.'
When it comes down to it, what choice do I have? He'll make me go anyway, if I try to refuse him.
Reluctantly, I give a tiny nod. He smiles, and steps behind me before pushing me out of the door in front of
him.
I stumble out into the corridor, and he pushes me off to the left. There's a complete silence while I walk
along as slowly as I can, with his wand pressed into my back.
I swallow down hard. I can hear noises. Faint whimpering emerging from behind the other cell doors.
It seems I wasn't alone in this corridor, after all.
It's a long passageway. The walk down it seems to take forever. My bare feet pad softly on the cold stone
floor. Lucius' shoes click smartly behind me.
And then a spiralling stone staircase, which is made up of so many steps I feel sweat running down my
back and a stitch pierces my side as we climb it, but whenever I slow down he prods me in the back with his
wand and I feel a short burst of pain where he touches me. I gasp when he first does it, but then I regain my
control, forcing myself not to react.
I just try not to slow down if I can help it.
And after that there's another long corridor. None of the doors in this one have any bars. And there isn't any
whimpering, either.
I assume these must be the Death-Eaters' living quarters, although how they can sleep directly above a prison
is anyone's guess.
I suppose Lucius must live here, now that he's on the run from the law.
Not that it matters where he lives. Once I've seen Voldemort, I'll probably never have to see Lucius again.
At the end of this corridor we reach a huge, elaborately carved door, which slowly swings open with a
horrible grinding sound as we approach it.
22

I look ahead of me through the doorway to see a horribly familiar, very large room. Hands land on my
shoulders and push me through the doorway.
The room is filled with a complete silence, although there are about ten people in here, if my guess is right.
It's an awful silence, full of tension and fear.
They're dressed in black robes, and standing in a semi-circle around the giant chair at the head of the hall.
The throne with the huge stone snake rearing up behind it.
And that chair is no longer empty.
Oh God, Oh God!
All of them turn to stare at us, at me, as we enter the room. None of them are wearing masks.
I suppose they don't need to protect their identity from those who they don't expect to leave here alive.
I quickly move my gaze to the floor. I don't want to see, or to know.
I'm pushed forwards, towards the throne. I try to keep my breathing steady.
Be brave, Hermione. Be a Gryffindor.
A couple of Death-Eaters move aside to allow us through, towards that grotesque chair. And that does it for
me I can't help it. My legs collapse beneath me and I fall to my knees. The stone strikes pain up through
my legs, and I can hear the Death-Eaters jeering.
Don't let them win
I pick myself up shakily from the floor; I might be terrified beyond anything I've ever known before, but I've
still got my pride.
But I won't look at that throne. Pride will only take me so far.
Lucius steps around me, and goes forward to speak to the man on the throne.
'The girl as you required, my Lord.'
The Death-Eaters' jeering dies away as they wait for his response, and that horrible, tense silence fills the
room once more. It seems to go on forever.
'Let me see her face.'
Oh God, that voice! It's so high and so cold. And it's not just that, there's something else. It's got
something about it, like nails being dragged down a blackboard. It goes through me, and makes me shudder.
If just hearing his voice makes me flinch, what will seeing him do to me?
'Look up, Mudblood.' That's Lucius' voice. It sounds like it did a few moments ago, when we were alone;
drawling and cool. But there's a new note in it, something that wasn't there before.
I think it might be fear.
'Look up!' he hisses at me angrily.
23

I won't look at that throne, I won't. I don't want to see


I can't.
I can't!
'She doesn't seem to be able to do as she's told, Lucius.'
That cold voice again. I resist the urge to wince.
'Oh, I got to know this girl on our journey over here, my Lord.' That's Lucius' voice. I wasn't mistaken,
there's definitely fear there, somewhere. There's a kind of forced boldness in his words. 'She seems utterly
incapable of willing obedience. I tried to teach her humility, but she proved most unwilling to accept that her
place in the world is beneath us.'
I'm not beneath you, you bastard!
'However, with a bit of perseverance I think her will could be broken,' Lucius drawls. 'She's only a child,
after all.'
I'm seventeen years old. I'm not a child anymore.
Then why can't you look at the throne?
'It is the same with all Muggles, Lucius.' I want to put my hands over my ears, to block out that awful voice,
but I won't be weak. 'They cannot see their own insignificance. They are so feeble, so useless compared to
us, and yet they cannot see it. Their arrogance refuses to accept their inferiority. And so when they failed to
destroy us, they decided to push their children into our world, flaunting them as wizards. Or, in this case, as
witches.'
I am a witch. I'm as magical as any of you!
I can see the bottom of his robe swing as he steps off of his throne and walks down towards me.
I can't breathe for fear. I can feel the sting of tears behind my eyes, and I grit my teeth against it. I'm not
weak, I'm not
But I can't look at him.
He stops a few paces away from me. I can see most of his body in his black robes. He's tall, and very thin, I
think. And his hands they're like huge, white spiders. And there's no colour in the skin; I can see the tiny,
purple veins running underneath it.
But I can't see his face yet, and I'm grateful for that.
'Look at me, Mudblood.'
I won't.
I taste vomit in the back of my throat, I'm so scared.
I won't look at him!

24

He's close to me. Not as close as Lucius has frequently been in the last twenty-four hours, but close enough.
I can sense something coming off of him. I can almost feel the malevolence of him, seeping into the air
around us, polluting the atmosphere.
Whether it's just my imagination or not, I don't know. But I'm shaking in fright.
'The Dark Lord has ordered you to look at him, Mudblood.' Lucius' voice again. He's angry with me, I can
hear it. 'You will obey your new master,'
Yesterday, I would have told Lucius that no-one is my master, let alone the so-called Dark Lord. But I can't.
If Lucius scared me, it is nothing compared to how I feel in his master's presence.
Voldemort chuckles softly.
'It seems you're losing your touch, Lucius.' He's taunting him. His voice is as soft and as sinister as a snake's
belly moving through cool, long grass. 'Before you went into Azkaban you could make grown men crawl at
your feet. Now, it seems, you can't even force a schoolgirl to do your bidding.'
Nervous laughter runs through the Death-Eaters, and when Lucius speaks his voice is tight.
'If I may, my Lord'
I see his feet move towards me, and his wand jerks downwards. I feel an invisible weight on my back,
pushing me down onto all fours on the ground by their feet. My palms graze slightly on the stone. I try to
push myself up, but the force won't shift from my back.
It's alright. This isn't real obedience; I don't want to be crawling in front of him
There's an invisible grip on my chin. It wrenches my head up, forcing me to face the pair of them.
No
It's it's not human. His face. Voldemort's face. It can't be human. It's like a snake's, but then like a man's.
And those eyes! They're red, with slits for pupils. But that's not the most terrifying thing about them.
There's no light, no soul behind those eyes. Looking into them is like looking into an abyss of evil.
He runs those terrible eyes over my face, looking almost disappointed. I I can't keep looking at him. I may
not be able to move my head, but I can still move my eyes. I shift them away from Voldemort, and they rest
on Lucius' face. His face, which I hated so much yesterday, is at least human. His eyes might be cold, but
there's something there.
Something human, anyway.
'So this is the Hermione Granger you and your son have told me about, Lucius.' Voldemort is speaking to
Lucius, but I can see out of the corner of my eye that he's still looking at me. 'From what you told me this
morning, I was expecting a bit more spirit from her. I have to confess, I am disappointed. Watching them
attempt to fight against us is always amusing-'
'It seems that your presence has knocked some of the arrogance out of her, my Lord-' Lucius begins, his
voice smooth.
Voldemort breathes a small laugh. 'You have not lost your great ability to say all the right things to all the
right people then, Lucius.'

25

I hate myself for not fighting back, but although yesterday my instinct was to struggle, all of my courage has
deserted me. I've never, ever been so afraid in my life. I thought myself terrified yesterday, but how I felt
then pales in comparison to how I feel now.
'Look at me.'
I can't, can't look at that again. I keep my eyes on Lucius, who meets my gaze with a frown.
'LOOK AT ME!'
I feel a tearing pain streak across my face. I suck in my breath, and look at Voldemort despite myself. I look
into those red, soulless eyes as he speaks to me.
'Ah, little Mudblood,' he says, a small smile on his face. 'If you only knew just how useful you are going to
prove to be. You have spent your entire life being worthless, unwanted by either our or your own people. But
you shall at this, the very end of your life, prove so helpful to our cause that it may be the one thing that will
give your life meaning.'
The end of my life?
They're going to kill me. I knew deep down already, of course I did. But now he's confirmed it. They're
going to get what they need, and then they're going to kill me.
And I'll never see my Mum and Dad, or Ron, or Harry again!
'What you need to ask yourself is: how willing are you to help us?' He won't move his eyes off of mine. They
fill my insides with ice. 'Will you make our task that much easier, or will you discover just how much pain
you are capable of withstanding?'
How can I answer that? I say I'll help them, and I make myself a traitor. I say I won't, and they'll torture me. I
can't face either of those outcomes.
And so I keep quiet.
Those eyes don't look angry. I don't think there's enough humanity in those eyes for them to be angry. But
they darken, somehow, and when he speaks his voice rises in rage.
'Answer me, girl!'
That sharp pain across my face again. I gasp, but I won't answer.
'Do you see this?' He's almost shouting now. 'Do you see how this insolent little Mudblood disobeys me?'
He moves back to his throne and sits himself down on it. For a long while, silence fills the room as he looks
at me long and hard. I can feel a shiver run through the Death-Eaters. They seem to be more scared of his
silences than they are of his words.
'Punish her for me, Lucius.'
I look up at Lucius, who is already raising his wand. He remains still for a moment, with his wand in mid-air,
before flicking it rather heavily at me in a sideways motion.
It's as if a huge metal fist has punched me hard in the stomach. All the air is knocked out of me as my insides
take a bruising. God, it hurts! My head falls forward and my back curls over as I gasp for breath
26

'You will answer me, girl!'


That's Voldemort's voice again. I look up at him, breathing heavily through my nose, and then I move my
gaze to Lucius, whose own eyes are as cold and detached as ever.
How can you hurt someone like that, and then not feel even the slightest bit guilty about it?
I don't care. He's not important.
I force my gaze back on to Voldemort, and I give the only answer that I can give to his question.
'I'll tell you nothing.' I can't move myself up off the ground, but I hold up my head as high as I can, breathing
hard in an attempt to get rid of the ache in my stomach and my ribs. 'You can torture me, you can kill me,
and I'm sure you'll do both. But I won't help you win the war. The pain you will no doubt inflict on me will
mean nothing to me as long as I'm suffering for what is right.'
Voldemort smiles. No, it's not a smile; the way his lips have stretched back is terrifying. No smile should
look like that. He raises his wand
'Crucio!'
Oh GOD! It's pain, such pain, pain like nothing I've EVER known. It's like every nerve in my body is on fire
and I know nothing, nothing, nothing but agony. I claw at the floor, at my arms, at my face, it won't stop, it
won't, God help me, I CAN'T TAKE IT...
Stillness. Miraculous stillness, and freedom from pain.
I lie on the floor, pressing my head into the cold stone. I'm shivering, and I ache all over.
And there's laughter. The Death-Eaters, Voldemort, and Lucius. All laughing at me.
I just went through more physical pain in one sitting than I've experienced in my entire lifetime, and they're
laughing at me.
Jesus Christ.
'Pain doesn't bother you, Mudblood?' That's Voldemort's voice. 'Your indifference is well disguised. Pain
seems to bother you immensely.'
I raise my head. I stare up at Lucius, who is looking down at me with a gloating smile. It's easier, so much
easier, to look at him than it is to look at Voldemort.
This is your moment, isn't it, I think, letting all of my hatred and all of my anger channel into him. You can
watch me get what you think I deserve, while you stand by, not having to administer the punishment
yourself
'You coward.'
I only meant to think that, not to say it, but I can feel my lips moving, mouthing the words silently.
Lucius is looking at me, the laughter dying away from his face.
I think he knows what I said.
27

Voldemort isn't watching me anymore. He's turned to Lucius, who turns his face away from me and towards
his master.
'I'll give you charge of her,' Voldemort says to Lucius, his voice curt as he gives his servant his orders. 'I
believe you'll understand when I tell you that, although the information she gives will no doubt be important,
I do not have time to waste on acquiring it.'
They want information out of me. They'll torture me for it, and then they'll kill me
Don't let them win.
'I want everything she says written down, word-for-word,' Voldemort goes on. 'You may enlist others to
assist you if necessary, as long as they haven't any important assignments to carry out.' He pauses for a
moment. 'I don't care how you do it; just get the necessary information out of her. You do understand me,
don't you, Lucius?'
'Certainly, my Lord.'
Lucius bows down low to his master, who waves a hand at me.
'Take her away. And make sure that she talks.'
I look up at Lucius, who smiles down at me maliciously.
'It will be my pleasure, My Lord.'
3. The Virtue of Obedience
'God harden me against myself,
This coward with pathetic voice
Who craves for ease and rest and joys:
Myself, arch-traitor to myself;
My hollowest friend, my deadliest foe,
My clog whatever road I go.' Christina Rossetti, Who Shall Deliver Me?
Pain, noun physical suffering or distress, as due to injury, illness, etc; a distressing sensation in a
particular part of the body; mental or emotional suffering or torment.

Where is he?
I pull my knees up to my chin, huddling in on myself.
I'm shaking. My teeth clatter together with the force of my fear.
I almost wish he'd done what he has to do straight away, rather than just leaving me here to wonder.
He didn't tell me when he'll be back. He didn't even look at me as he dragged me back to my cell. He just
slammed the door on me when I dared to ask what's going to happen when he comes back.
He didn't look at me once.
28

It seems like endless hours have passed since then. It could have been only five minutes, but I've discovered
that time goes so slowly while you're waiting in fear.
Why hasn't he come back?
Just be grateful he hasn't come back. You know what he's been ordered to do. You heard what Voldemort
said
I'm not looking forward to his return, for God's sake!
It's just I hate sitting here, wondering. Waiting. Interminably waiting.
He's probably doing it on purpose. I wouldn't put it past him; prolonging the agony by giving me time to
agonize about what he may or may not be about to do to me.
What is he going to do to me?
Considering I've been called the brightest witch of my age, that's a pretty stupid question. Of course I know
what he's going to do
Only I don't know the specific details, which is worse, in a way. I don't know what to prepare myself for.
Well at least it won't be Voldemort torturing me this time. I suppose I should be grateful for that, at least. If I
ever see that dreadful face again it will be a million years too soon.
God, those eyes. I'll never be able to forget them. Red, soulless, snake-like, bottomless eyes - so complete
and so perfect in their evil.
I put my head in my hands, pulling at my hair to distract me from the images flickering in my brain, on and
off like a broken television.
At least Lucius is I don't know
Human. Flesh and blood. Real.
Maybe he won't hurt me. He could just use Veriteserum, and have done with it. I don't see why he
wouldn't it would certainly be a quicker, cleaner method, wouldn't it? Just a quick drink and it'll all be
over.
But I shouldn't be hoping that he'll take that route. At least if he tortures me, I have the option of holding out
against the pain. I'd rather go through all sorts of agonies than give them the information they want right?
I never realised until now that intense fear can actually physically hurt.
Maybe I could lie to him. Maybe that will be a way out for me. I could pretend to relent under the pain, but
feed him false information. I'll have to make sure that my lies can't cause anyone any harm, but if I pull it off
then I might be able to get through this without betraying anybody.
But then when they've got the information they want off of me, they're going to to
My heart sinks down to my toes, weighed down by absolute and hopeless terror.
I'm only seventeen. I don't want to die.
29

I used to lie awake at night, sometimes, wondering about death. About what might come afterwards. And I'd
find it hard to breathe when I inevitably started to contemplate the notion of oblivion, or infinity
I tighten my grip on my head, almost tearing the hair from my scalp.
I won't think about it, I won't.
But how can I not think about it?
No. I've got to focus. I can't let them get what they want.
I let go of my head, distracting myself by looking down at my mud-caked jeans.
God, I wish I could have a wash, and a change of clothes. I've been wearing these clothes for how long
have I been here?
I don't know, but I've been in these filthy clothes for far too long.
I wonder if they'll bring me a change of clothing?
Why would they? They haven't even given you anything to eat, why would they provide you with fresh
clothes?
My stomach rumbles painfully. I haven't had anything to eat or drink since when I had my dinner, a few
hours before he turned up in my bedroom. If I'd have known that was to be my last supper, as it were, I
might have appreciated it a bit more. Grilled chicken and vegetables would never have tasted better.
Actually, I'm more thirsty than hungry. My throat is so dry it's almost painful. The walls of it stick together
as I swallow, trying to moisten it up.
I allow myself to fall onto my back, and I stare up at the ceiling without really seeing it. My mind is full, so
full that it's about to explode, surely to god.
How the hell am I going to make it through this without giving in to what they want?
As clear as day I can remember Lucius' face, laughing as Voldemort tortured me
He's a sadist. A complete sadist.
He must really loathe me, to be able to laugh as I scream in agony.
Why does he hate me so much?
Don't think about it. You could keep guessing forever, but you'll probably never know. Just try to keep a clear
head.
I need to prepare myself. I need to toughen myself up before he returns. I need to be ready for whatever he's
going to throw at me.
So how?
I begin by doing some breathing exercises. I breathe in, and out. Deep, rhythmic breathing. In, and out.
I clench every muscle in my body, hold them all tight for as long as I can, and then let them go. I do this over
and over again. And the breathing. The in, the out.
30

I stretch my body out as long as I can, pointing my toes and pushing my arms above my head, across the
floor. I feel the tingling heat of the stretch all the way through my limbs.
Breathe. In, and out. Breathe. Breathe.
And I try to strengthen my mind as well as my body. I won't focus on happy thoughts; allowing myself to
become sentimental would be allowing myself to be vulnerable. And so I think of all of the terrible things I
have seen these people do. I focus on every little bit of pain they have caused to the people that I love. I will
wear my anger like a suit of armour.
Petrified students in my second year. Great yellow eyes staring back at me from the hand mirror. Ginny's
endless feelings of guilt over the basilisk. Moaning Myrtle, trapped forever in her teenage body. Sirius,
rotting in a cell in Azkaban. Harry's nightmares about the graveyard where he saw Cedric Diggory die.
The door clicks.
I scramble up to my feet as quickly as I can. I'm not going to let him begin with an advantage over me.
Lucius steps silently into the room. He quietly shuts the door behind him, and flicks his wand at it to lock it.
He's not smiling, or sneering, or frowning. His face is a blank mask, showing no emotion at all.
I won't be afraid of him, I won't.
He's alone. He probably thinks that I'll be such a pushover that he won't need any help in making me talk.
Or perhaps he's being greedy. Keeping his triumph to himself
Either way, I'm locked in a cell with a man who wants to see me suffer.
I need to be strong. I must keep those images of hate running through my mind.
Neville's eyes, glistening with tears, as his mother dropped a sweet wrapper into his open palm. Bellatrix
Lestrange, taunting him over the mother she stole from him.
He runs his eyes over me, quickly and coolly.
'Now, Miss Granger, you will answer my questions. You will answer them promptly, and you will answer
them correctly. Do I make myself clear?'
Breathe. The in. The out.
'You'll have to kill me before I tell you anything.'
He smiles condescendingly. 'Let's put that to the test, shall we?'
I'm hot. The room is warm and suffocating and my deep, rhythmic breathing is lost, as suddenly I can't seem
to fill my lungs with air quick enough.
I can't let the fear beat me. I fill my mind with more hate and anger.
Harry's horrible, consuming guilt after he unwillingly lured Sirius to his death. Ron lying in the hospital
wing, near dead after being poisoned.
He brings a small drinking flask out of his robes and holds it out to me.
31

'May I offer you a drink?'


I instinctively reach greedily for the flask, almost snatching it off of him. I bring it to my mouth quickly, and
I feel the beautiful moisture on my lipsOh god, what am I doing?
I push the flask back into his hands, absolutely furious at my own stupidity. He breathes a small laugh as he
takes it off of me.
'Oh, you think I'm trying to trick you? You believe that I'm so simple as to just slip you something in your
drink? Something that might loosen your tongue?' He sneers at the idea, as if it's beneath him. 'You offend
me, Miss Granger. Believe it or not, I was making an attempt at hospitality.'
Hospitality?
He takes a large, slow sip from the bottle, before lowering it from his lips and smiling at me again. 'Yes, I
was attempting to be polite. But, seeing as you don't seem to want anything to drink'
He turns the bottle upside down and allows the content to splash on to the floor. I watch the clear liquid run
along the black paving stones, falling into the cracks between them, all going to waste.
Bastard. Bloody, bloody oh, I'm so thirsty!
He puts the bottle back in his pocket, and removes a quill and some parchment from his robes. He magically
levitates the parchment horizontally in front of him, and then balances the quill on top of it, just like that
Skeeter woman used to. But this quill isn't acid green, like hers was; it's blood red, and very small. He lets go
of it, but it remains upright on the parchment. He turns his face to me, and notices my curiosity.
'This is a special quill,' he remarks, almost as if he were making small talk with me. 'If you tell the truth, the
ink will run black; but if you lie, it will run red.' He smiles mockingly at me. 'Just a precaution, you
understand. Please don't be insulted that I don't trust you to be truthful.'
Damn. Alright, so lying isn't an option. I should have known that he'd do something to make sure that I had
to tell the truth. But I still have an alternative; I still have the option of keeping my mouth shut.
He takes a step back from the levitated quill and parchment, and speaks over them in a loud, clear voice;
'Lucius Malfoy interviewing the Mudblood prisoner Granger in cell fifteen.'
The Mudblood prisoner Granger? Is 'Hermione' too much to ask?
The quill scrawls across the parchment in black ink. Lucius nods in apparent satisfaction before turning back
to me with a small smile.
'Are you ready?'
Show him that you're strong.
I smile right back at him, pulling my lips back with difficulty. 'Of course.'
He raises his eyebrows at my defiance, but continues to smile, enjoying this game of his own making. He
pulls his wand out of his robes. 'Then we'll begin.'
I stand up straight, feeling myself lift from the top of my head downwards.
32

I'm not afraid of him.


What a stupid lie.
'To start us off, Miss Granger,' he says, almost politely, 'as a warm-up, if you will, I want you to tell me the
names of Harry Potter's friends.'
What?
I stare at him. 'I might be mistaken, but didn't your son go to school with us?' I ask. 'Wouldn't it be easier for
you just to get this information off of him? I know he's not too bright, but surely he wasn't so dim-witted that
he couldn't see who Harry was friends with at Hogwarts.'
I feel a stinging slap across my face, although he has not touched me. I swallow sharply.
He's not smiling anymore.
'I did not ask for you to insult my son, Mudblood,' he's pointing his wand at me. 'Or for you to display that
infuriating know-it-all attitude of yours. What I asked, I believe, was for you to tell me who Potter's friends
are.'
'You know who his friends are.' Although I want to make his job as difficult as possible, I genuinely don't
know why he needs to ask me this. 'You must have some idea, anyway, otherwise why have you brought me
here to answer your questions?'
That sharp sting on my cheek again, but I'm ready for it this time.
'You seem very slow to learn that I'm not here for your conversation, scintillating though it may be.' His
voice is growing quiet again. I must be starting to annoy him. 'I want you to tell me what I need to know. The
reason I have not asked Draco to provide me with this information is that he only ever saw you in Hogwarts.
He could not tell me who Potter was friends with outside of school, could he? But you can. So if you wish to
do things the easy way, then I suggest you name every friend he has. You don't need to tell me about yourself
or Arthur Weasley's worthless son, however. If we did not already know that the three of you were as close
as you are then you would not be here.'
I centre all my energy on how I hate him for calling Ron worthless. Alright, so Ron might be a bit of an idiot
at times, but he's also sweet, and caring, and funny, and Lucius Malfoy isn't fit to lick his boots.
He's tapping his foot, waiting for an answer.
'You want the names of Harry's friends?' I say, trying to keep my voice as calm as possible. 'I'll tell you.'
His eyebrows arch in surprise. He didn't expect me to give him answers so quickly.
'Well, thank you for making my life a little easier. It seems that you do have some common sense, after all-'
'Do you want these names or not?' I ask.
He pauses. 'Please.'
He's going to hurt me. My god is he going to hurt me.
'Their names are Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Kermit the Frog-'
33

He doesn't recognise the names I'm rolling off; they're Muggle inventions, after all. But he knows that they're
nonsense, without having to check the parchment to see what colour the ink is. His face is clouding over
with anger, but I won't stop.
'Bashful, Sleepy, Dopey, Rumplestiltskin,'
I look at the quill. It's running across the paper, scribbling down every stupid, ridiculous word I say. I start to
laugh. I can't help it, and I know I should stop, and it's not really very funny but I really, really start to laugh.
I laugh so much I can barely get my words out
The pain stops it dead.
I gasp and look down at my hand. My fingers are bending backwards
'I'm glad that you find yourself amusing,' Lucius says, his voice dripping with callous sarcasm. 'After all, if
we cannot laugh at ourselves, what can we laugh at?'
I look up at him, expecting him to smile. But he doesn't. His face is a blank mask once again as he points at
my hand with his wand. I look back down to see that my fingers are bent back almost to a right angle.
Horrified, I try use my other hand to hold them in place, but it's no use, as they continue to be forced
backwards no matter what I do. Back, and back, and back.
'Ah ow!'
'Hurts, does it?'
I feel the skin on my palm being stretched to tearing point. The bones in my fingers are popping and
cracking as they give way under the pressure. I grit my teeth but, although I try to stop myself, I begin to
shout meaningless nonsense in pain.
'Does that hurt you, little Mudblood?' He has to raise his voice to make sure that I can hear him over my
cries. 'Can you feel your fingers breaking, screaming out for mercy? Is concealing the information I want
worth this agony? You could stop it, you know; right now, if you wanted to. Just tell me what I want to
know.'
They're bent back as far as they can go, but still the force goes on, relentlessly pushing them back, and back,
and there's tearing and cracking and unbearable pressure, and I can't help it. I start to scream. Oh God, why
won't it end?
Just tell him who Harry's friends are.
'NO!' I bawl, and as I do there's a huge, wrenching pain right in the joints and I scream in absolute agony as
tears roll furiously down my face, and the pressure
Stops.
But the pain remains.
I look down at my hand. The fingers are wonky and disjointed. I can't move them, no matter how hard I try.
'You they're bloody broken-' I choke on a sob.
'Full marks, Miss Granger.'
34

I cradle my ruined hand to my chest, as if it were an injured animal or a crying baby. I fall back against the
wall, leaning all of my weight on it in a desperate effort to stay on my feet. I turn my head, hiding my face
from him. I'm not going to give him the satisfaction of seeing the agony he has caused me.
I hear his footsteps move across the room, stopping when they reach me.
'I think we'd better start again,' he says, his voice perfectly calm.
No emotion, no remorse, no pity. How can he be calm after what he's just done to me?
'I want you to name Harry Potter's friends for me.'
I raise my head and stare at him through the tears which are burning my eyes. 'You cruel you evil'
'Believe me, I've heard it all before,' he interrupts me, rolling his eyes sounding almost bored. 'Any
comments you wish to make on my character will, I'm sure, not be new to me.'
He doesn't care. He doesn't careI can't look at him. I let my gaze fall to the floor.
'Now,' he continues, his voice low, 'tell me what I want to know, and I'll mend your hand for you in a
second.'
No. This is nonsensical. No-one could do this to another human being, surely
Would it be so terrible just to tell him?
YES!
Why?
'My patience is not limitless, Mudblood.' His voice rips me out of my thoughts. 'I would advise you not to
make things worse for yourself.'
I hate him. I hate him so much that I want him to die.
'Why do you need to know this so much?' I ask, furious at how my voice is cracking uncontrollably. 'Why do
you need to know who Harry's friends are? Is it so crucial a bit of information that it is worth torturing
another human being in order to acquire it?'
I clutch my poor destroyed fingers to my chest, my entire body shaking uncontrollably. There's a long
silence, punctured only by my heavy breathing.
'This information is important, believe me. Do you think I would be asking you to provide it if it were not?'
His voice is quiet again. I won't look at him as he speaks to me. 'And I resent your laying the blame at my
door. You could end this in a heartbeat, but you don't have the basic intelligence to save your own skin. One
could say that you have brought this pain upon yourself, with your own stubborn wilfulness.'
'What do you expect me to do?' I cry, tears of agony rolling down my cheeks. 'Give you what you want by
betraying the people that I love? Do you want me to be like you, and abandon all of my principles in order to
survive?'
'You make it sound like a bad thing,' he replies nonchalantly. 'Believe me; you don't survive in these kinds of
situations for as long as I have if you insist on holding true to principles.'
35

He grips me by the chin and forces me to look into his face. His expression remains entirely unreadable.
'Now, will you help yourself by helping me? Or do you need a little more persuasion?'
Although I know what I have to say, I still feel like I have to force the words out of me; 'I'll never help you,
you bastard!'
He lets go of my chin, before brutally wrenching my injured hand away from my chest, heedless of my
broken bones.
'Haven't you done enough?' I howl.
He pauses, meeting my gaze with a look as cold as stone. 'Evidently not.'
He presses the tip of his wand to the middle of my hand, and mutters an incantation I can't hear.
That's when my hand begins to burn.
At first it just tingles, almost like a nettle sting. But it swiftly develops, growing hotter and hotter, becoming
a full blown, merciless agony! It leaps all the way down the nerves in my arm, electric shocks of white heat.
An iron is being pressed to my bare skin, and I scream and scream, falling to my knees while he keeps hold
of my hand, continuing to press his wand into it.
I can feel my skin bubbling!
I claw at his leg with my free hand, bawling at his feet. 'My god, ohmygod, please-'
And then he draws his wand away from my skin, and lets my hand go. I collapse onto my hands and knees,
letting my injured hand fall to the floor. I look at it, sprawled across the black stone. Crooked, purple-red,
broken twigs of fingers, and red and burnt flesh, swelling and blistering and bubbling before my eyes.
Oh god.
'Believe me, Mudblood, I have many more distasteful tricks up my sleeve, should you continue to defy me,'
he says, his voice perfectly controlled.
I remain crouched on the floor, sobbing and breathing heavily in an attempt to control the pain in my hand.
Just tell him
I won't!
I look up at him, sobbing so hard that I feel dizzy with it. 'Piss off!' I scream at him.
He retaliates by stepping on my hand, my broken hand. I scream myself hoarse as he grinds his foot down
onto the broken fingers and the burnt skin.
'You bastard!'
'I grow tired of asking you this, and so let this be the last time.' He has to yell to make himself heard over my
wailing. 'Who are Harry Potter's friends?'
My burned skin rips and my broken bones grind under his boot. Pain, agony, misery; they all engulf me,
robbing me of the ability to feel anything else. The pain is above and beyond my comprehension. It is no
longer something I feel, but something I am.
36

Just do it, Hermione. Nothing's worse than this.


I have to. I just can't go on. I can't take anymore. It has to end, I can stop it
'Me,' I begin to whimper, 'And Ron. We're we're his best-'
-grind,crunch,screamofpain'I know that, girl.' His voice is raised in impatience. 'I have told you that I do not need to hear about the pair
of you. I want the names of his other friends, those whom I do not know about.'
I can't tell him, I can't.
Boot presses down harder, harder, Oh, nooooo
'Neville Longbottom,' I stumble on. 'Luna Lovegood, Rubeus Hagrid, ohpleaseplease Ginny Weasley'
I stop, horrified at what I've done, but there's a twist, a ripping twist, no no nonono!
'Anyone else?' he asks, ignoring my screams of pain.
Who else is there? Who else, anyone else'Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan, he shares a room with them. Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks. MadEye I can't think nono, please don't, no pleasepleasedon't Mr and Mrs Weasley. Fred and George
Weasley. Fleur Delacour. Ernie Macmillan. Justin Finch Fletchley. Colin Creevy.' I stop, gulping heavily. 'I
can't think of any more-'
'Try, Mudblood.'
Polished boot grinds broken fingers into stone'PLEASE I'm telling you the truth, I can't think of any more, I swear, I SWEAR!'
He lifts his foot off of my hand.
I curl up in a ball, shaking in sheer agony, weeping to myself in pain and self-disgust.
What have I done?
I can still see him through my tears. He walks over to the levitated parchment and inspects it. When he sees
the colour of the ink, he turns to me with the smallest of satisfied smiles.
I can't look at him anymore, not after what he's done to me. I close my eyes, blocking it all out, wanting to
sink further and further away, deeper into the darkness...
'You see.' I hear his shoes click on the stone floor, approaching me and stopping next to my shuddering body.
'We can work well together, if only you apply yourself.'
What can I say in reply? I've given him what he wants.
I've helped him.
The thought is unbearable.
37

There's a silence as he waits for a response. When he doesn't get one he picks up my hand again. His touch
sends new spasms of pain through my arm.
'Oh no, leave it alone!' I wail, without looking up at him. I press my face to the floor, feeling the cold stone
on my skull.
He presses his wand to my hand. My entire body tightens, waiting for whatever he's about to do.
But what comes isn't what I expect. A huge rush of warmth runs through my hand, right to the tips of my
fingers. And there is no pain. Just sweet relief.
I lift my head up slowly, not quite sure whether to believe it. I look at my hand
It's healed. It must be healed. I can move my fingers again, and the burn has sealed up, leaving only a red,
shiny scar in its place. The bruises around my fingers are still there, but the digits themselves don't hurt as I
flex them in his grasp. I gulp as the tears in my eyes dry up.
He lets go of my hand, but still I look at it, mesmerised by how easily it has healed, and how quickly such
pain can vanish.
'What made you think you would be any different from the others, Mudblood?'
My head snaps up at the slight change in his voice. His face looks strange. 'All of you, every person I've
ever had to deal with, you have all believed that you can hold out against the pain. But none of you ever can.
I have told you already; when I want something, I make sure that I get it.'
'But at what price?' I ask, my throat sore due to my screams. 'How far can you go to get what you want, until
you start to hate yourself for it?'
His face is still unreadable. 'The end justifies the means. Not that I would expect you to understand that. It's
far too complex a concept for your young mind to comprehend.'
'I'll tell you what I don't understand,' I say, words leaving my mouth before I can think about what
consequences they might have. 'Why do you have to torture people for the information you want? Why don't
you just use Veriteserum on them? It would make things easier for you, surely?'
I stop myself before I can say any more.
Don't pretend that you don't want him to use it. A free ticket out of this agony and guilt
He smiles a sick, twisted smile. It brings his face alive it's so different from the calm control he has
exercised so far today.
'Oh, no, I don't think so.' He crouches down next to me, and runs his wand slowly down my cheek. 'This
method is so much more interesting, don't you think? I'm not going to deny, it angers me when you don't
do as you're told. Insolence is something I just can't tolerate in anybody, let alone Mudbloods. But there's
something so satisfying about watching you eventually giving in to the inevitable, finally enacting some
willing obedience.'
Anger hits me so hard that I feel sick with it. I feel it shoot up from my gut, burning me from the inside out,
tearing me apart.
'Why are you doing this to me?' I scream, pulling myself to my feet. He rises with me, not allowing me to
stand above him even for a second. 'He told you that you could use any method necessary to get the
information he wants, I heard him. Why do you have to torture me for it? You don't have to! You could use
38

the Imperius curse on me, or you could use truth serum. But you won't. You choose the option that will cause
me the most suffering, even though it makes everything much more difficult for you. Why do you want to
hurt me? I haven't done anything to you! Why do you hate me so much?'
There's a long pause. My words buzz in the air around us. The smile has vanished from his face.
'You're a Mudblood,' he answers eventually, almost simply. 'That is why I hate you. That is why I choose to
torture you instead of using any of the cleaner methods. Any Death Eater would do the same thing; I am not
unusual in that respect. Because any opportunity to teach one of you a lesson should not be wasted.'
'What lesson? What do I need to be taught?'
'Your place, girl, your place!' His voice is rising in exasperation and anger. 'None of you muggle-borns know
your place. You masquerade as wizards and witches, acting as if you belong in our world. And you; you are
the worst sort of your kind. You, with your know-it-all attitude and intellectual snobbery. You set yourself up
as equal, if not better than, your pure-blood peers, when you are really just a freak of nature. That is why I
want to hurt you.'
He turns away from me swiftly, and walks over to the other side of the room. He stops by the cell door, and
runs a gloved hand over the back of his sleek blonde head, taking a deep breath.
That's right. Get your control back. Can't let yourself become distracted by emotion, can you? That would
make it all far too personal, wouldn't it?
I watch him collect himself, and when he turns back to me his face is emotionless once more.
'Thus far we appear to be making progress,' he says, as if the last few minutes have never happened. 'You
have named Harry Potter's friends for me. Not without struggle, I grant you, but your common sense seemed
to prevail over your so-called 'ideals'. I thank you for your eventual generosity in naming as many as you
did.'
Blood pounds through my veins, carrying so many emotions along with it. Hate, guilt, confusion.
How can he say that when he made me name so many of them?
'Yes, young Harry seems quite popular,' he continues. 'But then, why wouldn't he be? The Boy Who Lived
was always destined for hero worship.'
He's building up to someone.
Don't crack this time. Try and stay strong.
'The thing about heroes is they always have a huge female following,' he says idly.
Oh God, no!
'I want you to give me the names of every girl he's ever had a little, ah romance with,' he says with a sneer.
I don't believe this!
'Why?' I ask.
I feel an invisible fist punch me in the stomach again. It's just like the one dealt to me in front of Voldemort.
I bend double, coughing violently as I try to get my breath back, holding my stomach to try and get rid of the
pain dull, pounding pain.
39

'You will not question me, Mudblood. I thought I had made that clear.'
I look back up at him. He has his wand readily positioned to curse me I refuse him, his face slightly
contorted as anger begins to fight its way onto his face.
Just tell him what he wants to know.
No!
He'll hurt you even more if you don't. Can you honestly face that again?
But the pain of my broken, burned hand suddenly seems so far away.
I can face it again. I have to.
I stand up straight, ignoring the aching twinges in my ribs.
'And I thought that I had made it clear that you will have to force any information you want out of me.'
He rolls his eyes.
'How tedious,' he says with a sigh. 'You know, there is only so much of this sort of behaviour that I am
prepared to put up with. Why won't you just make things easier for us both?'
I raise my eyebrows, trying to think of a suitable reply.
'I guess I'm just a difficult girl.'
For I second, his mouth twitches up into what might be a smile.
At least I think it does
But the next second it's gone again.
He raises his wand and pauses for a moment, frowning in concentration.
'Now, what would be the most persuasive method I could use?'
I wait. I wait for ages while he keeps this charade of indecision going. I feel my stomach churning and
knotting as I wonder what he's going to do to me. I guess that's the effect he was going for.
'I could use the cruciatus curse, of course,' he's saying this quietly, as if he's musing to himself. But I can
hear every word, as he means me to. 'But where's the fun, the variety in that? It's so obvious, don't you
think?'
I don't give him an answer. Not that he expects one.
He flicks his wand down.
I feel
Nothing
Just emptiness.
40

My brain has left my head.


Oh, it's lovely.
All the pain, the agony of thinking
gone.
Just warmpinkhappysleepy and there is no pain or thought or being
A knife. In a pale hand.
I take it.
'Cut your leg.'
Don't
Doubt wiped away by the warm, comforting voice with a weight heavier than God.
'Cut your leg. It won't hurt, I promise you.'
He's right.
Nothing can hurt me, nothing will hurt me. Not in this tightcozysnug warmth that I'm wrapped in.
I do all that I know.
I sink the knife into my legARRRGHHHH!
'You're not hurting, not really. Pull the knife down your thigh.'
HurtshurtsSOMUCH!
'No, it doesn't. Pull the knife down through your flesh.'
'And again'
'And again'
And then the voice leaves.
Oh my God, my LEG!
I'm left with nothing but agony. It crashes down on me so quickly that I scream and shout with it. I fall to the
floor in pain and shock. I look down in horror at my mangled leg.
Jesus Christ!
My jeans are in shreds, and my thigh has deep, bloody trenches running down it. There's mud as well; mud
from my jeans mixing in with my blood to create this huge, disgusting mess! Mud and blood and flaps of
skin, but the knife's disappeared, and ohmygodohmygodohmygod! So much warm, sticky, dark blood, oozing
out of the wounds, trickling down off of my leg and on to the floor, drying in clumps.
41

I have to tell him, I have to.


'Look, I'll tell you what you need to know! Just please, please heal my leg!'
'You tell me the names of the girls first,' he says with absolutely no emotion whatsoever. 'Then, perhaps, I
will consider your proposal.'
'Please, I'm begging you-'
'No. First you will tell me what I want to know.'
'Why won't you help me?'
No answer.
I've got to stop this bleeding.
My t-shirt. Perhaps yes.
'Ginny!' I scream, pulling my t-shirt up over my head and frantically pressing it to my wounds, using it to
stem the blood flow. 'He was with Ginny, but they broke up a few weeks ago'
'Ginny?' I don't look at him as he speaks. 'Not Ginny Weasley? Arthur Weasley's daughter?'
'Yes!' I don't even register what I'm saying anymore. I just know that I need to stop this pain before it kills
me. My t-shirt soaks up the blood, but still I bleed. Nothing can stop it, nothing
'Well, that certainly is valuable information. Anyone else?'
'Please, my leg'
'I want the rest of the names first, Mudblood. Your leg can wait. You needn't worry I'm not going to let you
die yet.'
'But it hurts-'
'Yes, I know. That's kind of the point, isn't it?'
Bastard. Sadist. Sick, evil, twistedI groan in agony.
'In our fifth year he dated a girl called Cho Chang,' I say desperately. 'But there's no-one else.'
'Are you sure?'
'NO-ONE, I SWEAR!'
He walks over to the levitated parchment to see whether I am telling the truth.
Oh God, why won't he help me?
'Only two girlfriends,' he says, a small chuckle in his voice. 'The most famous seventeen year old in the
wizarding world, and you have only two names to give me. Good God, how pathetic, and yet somehow very
unsurprising.'
42

How can he just carry on like this when I'm about to bleed to death right next to him?
I'm so dizzy
'Oh, please forgive me. I quite forgot about your little accident.'
He points his wand at my leg, and that wonderful, familiar warmth spreads along it. The wound heals up, the
skin sealing itself over the mud, trapping it in my leg.
He doesn't get rid of the blood, though.
'Get dressed, girl,' he snaps.
I blink, and then I remember. My t-shirt. I'd forgotten.
But I'm not I mean, I've got underwear on, for god's sake! And anyway, he doesn't need to look at me like
that like I'm a particularly disgusting piece of dung on the sole of his shoe.
I pull my drenched t-shirt over my head. The soaking, warm material clings to my body. I feel my blood seep
out of the cotton, onto my skin.
He nods at me.
'Well, it seems you can follow orders, after all. How compliant you can be when you put your mind to it! The
information you have provided so far shall, I am sure, be put to good use.'
I clench my hands into fists, digging my nails into my palms.
'Yes I am sure that these two girls with prove to be most useful to our cause.'
Tears begin to fall down my cheeks. My throat is thick with suppressed sobs. I clench my jaw to keep myself
silent, but I can't get away from the giant darkness pushing its way into my body - the enormity of what I've
done.
'Ginny Weasley!' he goes on, with relish in his voice, 'I remember her at eleven years old, with her father in
Flourish and Blotts. So young, and so innocent. I knew that she would be an ideal person to be taken in by
the diary. She would be nave enough to let it into her mind; I could see that in her. That she was a Weasley
only made the situation even more delicious.'
I think of Ginny, of how she still has nightmares about how she released the basilisk, and something within
me shatters into a million pieces.
'Too cowardly to do your own work, weren't you?' I say before I can stop myself, my voice rising and
cracking with emotion. I get up from the floor. 'You could have given Draco that diary, and taught him how
to use it. You didn't have to use an eleven year old girl to do your dirty work. But you'd rather ruin an
innocent girl's life than allow yourself to be associated with any wrong doing. Oh, you cared about getting
the Muggle-borns out of Hogwarts, but you cared more about your own reputation, didn't you?'
His face is loosing what little colour it has.
'Don't talk about what you don't understand-'
'I understand all too well!' I scream, unable to control myself. The words wrench themselves up from my
gut. 'I understand you! You're a coward!'
43

His face is a mask of rage; his features are thick and harsh with fury. 'What did you call me?'
'YOU HEARD WHAT I SAID!' I've really lost it now. All of my rage, all of my pain, all of my fear is
spilling out of me in screams and tears and words. 'If you had any bravery, an honour in you, you might have
at least stayed true to your master after his fall. But you didn't you renounced him rather than go to
Azkaban and face up to what you'd done.'
'SHUT YOUR FILTHY MOUTH!' he roars.
'NO, I WON'T! You were a coward when you snapped my wand in half. You wouldn't even give me a chance
to fight against my capture. Does it make you feel like a big man, torturing a helpless teenager when they
have no way to fight back? You coward, you coward, you COWARD-'
His fist slams into my jaw. Small lights burst behind my eyes, and the iron taste of blood fills my mouth. I
loose my balance, the blow is so strong, and I fall. Almost as soon as I hit the ground he kicks me hard in the
stomach. Once, twice, three times. I screamAnd then there is silence. I watch him as he turns around and walks to the other side of the room, and stands
for a few moments with his back to me.
Can't breathe hurts too much
For what seems like ages I lie still, desperately rubbing my stomach in an attempt to get rid of the pain. He
doesn't turn to face me.
Eventually I pull myself into a seating position, pressing my back into the wall. My stomach's killing me, my
hand is pink, shiny and bruised and I'm covered with blood, blood which is now cool on my body.
He's managed to put my body into one hell of a state after only twenty-four hours.
After a few more minutes he turns around to face me again, his face struggling to keep calm. He looks down
at his boots. I follow his gaze. They're shiny, and wet
'I've got your filthy blood on my shoes,' he says with disgust. 'Wipe it off. Now.'
I look up at him, not believing my ears.
'Clean your own damn shoes.'
There's a small silence. A muscle is going in his jaw. He's losing control again. He's going to hurt me again, I
know it.
'Do you need yet another little lesson in obedience, girl?'
'SHUT UP!' I scream, completely losing it. 'Do you think I care about obedience? How can you stand there,
ordering me to wipe my blood off of your shoes after what you have done to me today? Do you really think
that forcing me to do that would make me accept that I'm below you? Well, it won't. Obedience is
meaningless if it's forced; no matter what you do to me, you can't make me want to obey you.'
'I CAN DO WHAT I LIKE!' he shouts at me, losing his control. 'You don't seem to understand: you are at my
mercy! How dare you talk to me like that? You should be grovelling at my feet, completely willing to do
whatever I tell you. Why do you continue with this insufferable insolence? Will nothing teach you of your
inferiority? Do you think that I can't hurt you more?'
He points his wand at me.
44

Oh no, OH NO
'CRUCIO!'
No! Nooooooooooo! I can't, oh God, I CAN'T! It burns, I'm burning! I scrabble at the floor, my body is
being ripped apart by wild beasts, teeth, nails, claws, and why? Why won't it stop?
He lifts the curse, and I'm left shivering. I'm crouched at his feet, just as he wishes me to be. I look up at him
through my tears.
'Why?' I ask, exhausted with pain. 'Why are you doing this to me?'
He's silent, his wand still pointed at me.
'Please, just just stop.' I grab the front of his robes, holding on to them as if I were drowning. 'You don't
have to do this. It's not right, you know that it isn't. Would you want Draco hurt like this for what he believes
in? He's the same age as me.'
His face doesn't even twitch at the mention of his son, but I don't stop; I have to get through to him.
'Please. You must have some kindness in you. You're not your master; you're not inhuman, Lucius.'
'How dare you use my name?'
He looked absolutely revolted, but I keep on talking.
'You must have some compassion in you. You're a human being, you must do! Can you carry on like this?
Will you sleep well tonight, or will you lie awake, remembering my screams?'
His eyes drop away from mine. Am I getting through to him?
'Can you look me in the eye, after what you have done to me today?' I ask quietly.
For a moment, it looks like he can't. He's still refusing to meet my eyes, anyway.
'Please,' I carry on, my voice cracking. 'Please-.'
'Get off of me,' he says, brutally kicking me again in the ribs. I yell in pain and I fall onto my side. I look up
at him. The look of pure loathing on his face freezes my blood. 'Am I supposed to be moved by your pathetic
pleas? How dare you ask me to pity you? I detest you!'
He turns away from me, walking over to the levitating quill and parchment. He plucks them out of the air
and puts both of them into his robes.
I vaguely wonder how much of this interview he'll show to Voldemort. Perhaps he'll destroy everything that
he hasn't been specifically asked for. I don't suppose he'll want him to see most of our exchange some of it
might be embarrassing for him.
'We shall resume our interview tomorrow.' His lips barely move as he speaks, and he won't look at me. 'And
I shall expect more co-operation from you when I return. In the meantime'
He points his wand at the floor and a goblet of water and a tiny loaf of bread appear there on the stone.
'You can believe whatever you like about me, Mudblood,' he says, opening my cell door with his wand. 'But
you can never say that I do not have a sense of hospitality.'
45

He slams out of the door, locking it behind him.


For a few moments I stay still, curled up on the floor. I roll my head upwards and look blankly at the ceiling
as silent tears roll out of the corners of my eyes.
I can't feel. Pain has anesthetised me.
But I can think
I can't let myself think. If I think, I'll have to face up to what I've done.
But I have to face it. There's no escape from it. It's going to engulf me, destroy me. My head's going to
explode with the knowledge of what I've done.
I've betrayed my friends. I promised myself that I would never, ever give away information that could lead to
their harm. But I did, and so easily.
I roll over onto my front, and push myself onto all fours. I crawl heavily over to my bed. As I approach it, I
see the inscription on the stone,
'Don't let them win'
I've failed.
I let myself collapse on my straw bed, grateful for the comparative softness and warmth. I curl up in a ball,
pulling the blanket up to my chin, wanting to sink into endless darkness, where there is no more pain.
I start to sob. I can't help it. The tears roll down my cheeks and my nose runs. I cry and cry, long into the
night, with no-one to hear me.
4. Hell
'It is easy to go down into Hell; night and day, the gates of Death stand wide; but to climb back again, to
retrace one's steps to the upper air therein lies the difficulty.' Virgil, The Aeneid
The beverage you are about to enjoy is extremely hot. Please sip carefully.

I should move. My whole body aches from lying here for hours on end.
I curl my legs up to the side of me. Even that minimal movement is an effort.
Perhaps I'll grow sick of the sight of the ceiling in the end. But right now I don't know if I ever will. I've
been staring at it for hours, but not seeing it.
I've only moved when I had to - when that silent, sullen-faced woman came to take me to the bathroom
down the corridor for toilet breaks every few hours. And once I got up of my own accord, to eat the food that
he left for me.
I haven't slept. How can I sleep when my mind is so loud I can't hear myself think?
At first I cried. I cried and cried until eventually I wore myself out. And now I feel like I have no tears left to
shed. They've all been expelled out of me. It feels like they'll never come again.
46

At first only my body was numb, but now it's my mind, too. The hours have thrown me into a blank, barren
haze.
I feel empty, and abandoned. Lost.
I kick my blanket off of me, suddenly unable to bear the horrible heat. I'm damp with sweat, and I have been
for hours now.
I need some food! And some water. A glass of water and a crust of bread aren't enough to keep me going. My
head hurts with the hunger or perhaps with something else, I don't know.
Or care all that much.
For the first time in my life, I want my brain to shut down. I want it to let me sleep, and not to keep turning
over, and over, like a tyre running down an endless hill.
Why did I do it?
Why couldn't I hold out?
What are they going to do to the people I've named?
Why couldn't I be brave when it mattered?
I'll never sleep again.
What's that noise?
My sore eyes flicker to the door of my cell. Footsteps.
They could easily not be coming for me. I'm not the only prisoner being kept in this corridor. I have heard
people come and go from these cells frequently since Lucius left me, but none of them have come to see me.
But the screams of the people they did go to visit echoed all the way down through the rest of the cells.
It's enough to drive you mad.
There are two pairs of feet out there, not one. The first pair of shoes click smartly, the other pair pound
heavily.
I think I recognise the sound of that first pair of feet.
I sit up, slowly, groaning slightly as my muscles creak into use after hours of immobility.
The footsteps stop outside of my cell, and I see a pale face looking at me through my barred window.
He's back for more.
I've got to be stronger, this time. I know what to expect from him now. I've got to fight, and this time I've got
to win.
I stand up as quickly as my aching body will allow me, wiping the sweat away from my forehead. My head
thumps painfully as I get to my feet.
Christ, I hope I'm not getting ill. That's all I need, on top of everything else.
47

The door clicks open, and Lucius steps into the room. But he's not alone this time. There's another wizard
with him, also in a black robe, and maskless. He's about the same height as Lucius, and around about the
same age, I think. I recognise his pale, twisted face from somewhere, but I can't put a name to it.
'Good morning, Miss Granger,' Lucius drawls. 'You will, I am sure, remember Antonin Dolohov? The pair of
you met at the Ministry of Magic, I believe.'
Oh God, I remember. How could I forget that silent whiplash across my chest, and then the unbearable pain,
and then the darkness? I never saw his face at the time, but his picture had been in the Daily Prophet for
almost a year before that.
He must have escaped from prison with Lucius. Perhaps he was another one of the six mentioned in the
Prophet.
God, reading that news story seems like another lifetime, now.
'My, haven't you grown up since I last saw you, my dear,' Dolohov says, grinning. 'I don't blame you for
wanting to keep her to yourself yesterday, Lucius. She's quite pretty.'
Oh, for god's sake.
The way he's looking at me makes me feel dirty, and embarrassed. He lets his eyes go up and down, up and
down. They slide over me like slime.
Lucius raises his eyebrows incredulously. 'Well, each to his own, I suppose. No accounting for taste.'
Hate courses through me, jumping in shocks through my warm, tired body, waking it up.
You smug, arrogantDolohov begins to walk over to me, slowly.
'You do know that she's a Mudblood, Antonin?' Lucius asks.
'I can look even though I'm not allowed to touch.'
What?
I push myself back into the wall, wrapping my arms around my torso. I don't want him near me I feel
greasy and unclean at the very thought of it.
Lucius leans against the wall, smirking slightly at my discomfort.
But at the same time, there's something about him that looks a little disgusted?
Dolohov really is too close to me now. I can see every line, every muscle in those twisted features. He's
slightly younger than Lucius, I think, but not much younger. I meet his gaze in what I hope he sees as
defiance.
I might as well not bother. He doesn't notice my expression - he's not looking at my face.
'Those clothes don't do much for her, do they?'
He flicks his wand, and my arms are wrenched from around my chest, lifted above my head and pinned to
the wall above me.
48

No no no no NO!
I twist my body furiously, but I can't move my hands away from the wall. He laughs softly, making a tearing
movement with his wand, and my t-shirt rips clean in half down the front.
I twist and struggle against the invisible grips on my wrists as anger surges up from the bottom of my gut,
bubbling up through my chest and out of my mouth.
'For god's sake, what's wrong with you?' I yell at him.
'Nothing's wrong with me, Mudblood,' he says, a horrible grin on his face. 'Now say still, will you?'
I look to Lucius, wondering if he's going to just stand there and watch while his friend treats me like a prize
piece of meat.
But Lucius isn't smirking anymore. He takes a few steps forward and lays a hand lays on Dolohov's shoulder,
pulling him firmly away from me.
'We don't touch Mudbloods or Muggles, Antonin,' he says, his voice very quiet. 'The Dark Lord is very
particular about it, as you know. So if you could manage to control yourself, I think it would be for the best.'
Dolohov raises his eyebrows and backs away from me, his hands raised in compliance. The bonds keeping
me to the wall vanish, and I fall forward slightly, pulling my ripped t-shirt closed around me.
Thank God.
I breathe deeply, relief flooding me so quickly that I almost feel faint with it.
'If you say so, Lucius,' Dolohov says, with insincere deference. 'But what the Dark Lord doesn't know won't
hurt him-'
'So you say. But if he were to find out about your unusual tastes, I do not believe that he would be best
pleased. You know how he feels about such things. Besides, a pure-blood such as yourself should not dirty
your hands on a Mudblood. Besides, I cannot comprehend why you would want the plain little bitch
anyway.'
Dolohov laughs at that. I want to cry.
Don't listen. They're just words; meaningless, empty noises.
'Now stop wasting time.' Lucius' voice is curt again, giving orders. He is obviously of a higher standing than
Dolohov. 'We have work to do. Set the quill up, will you?'
Lucius brings some parchment and the tiny red quill he used yesterday out of his robes, and hands them to
Dolohov, who takes them and, with one last disgusting look at me, turns to go and set them up on the other
side of the room.
Lucius turns to me, keeping his eyes on my face. He moves his wand upwards, in a slow, deliberate motion. I
look down and see my t-shirt seal up, the two halves of material merging seamlessly together.
I meet his gaze. It's as cold as ever, without a hint of warmth or kindness.
Nonetheless, I feel some words well up inside of me, which I have to force back down into myself before I
can say them.
49

Thank you. That's what those words are.


But I'm not going to thank him for anything. I refuse.
Well, at least I know that he's not going to to hurt me in that way. Not only that, but he's not going to let
anyone else, either. That, at least, is a plus.
I've never felt grateful for pureblood prejudice until now.
He turns away from me and walks over to Dolohov.
I wish it wasn't so hot in here! Sweat is running off of my skin, making me really uncomfortable.
'Are we going to get started, then?' Dolohov asks Lucius, his eyes lighting up eagerly.
These people enjoy pain, don't they? They enjoy watching another human being scream and writhe in agony.
'Yes, I think so,' Lucius replies. 'Although I did tell Bella that we'd wait for her. You know how much she
enjoys this sort of thing-'
Dolohov chuckles.
Bella? Oh please, not that evil woman!
'But no matter,' Lucius continues. 'To deny her something that would bring her such pleasure will teach her
to be a bit more punctual from now on.'
Perhaps she won't turn up. Hopefully, I'll be left with just these two.
A strange thing to hope for.
Lucius turns to the levitated parchment and quill, and speaks clearly over it as he did yesterday;
'Lucius Malfoy, assisted by Antonin Dolohov, resuming the interview with the Mudblood prisoner Granger
in cell fifteen.'
I HATE how he calls me that
It's then that I realise that he has never called me by my first name.
God, my head hurts.
The pen scrawls across the parchment in black ink, and Lucius turns to me.
'Miss Granger,' he says, almost politely. 'You remember the process, I assume. We will ask questions, and if
you fail to answer them correctly then you shall be punished. Is that understood?'
I nod slightly, giving him nothing else. There's no point in pretending that I don't understand him. I
understand all too well, now.
He smiles at me slightly. Perhaps he thinks that I'm finally learning to do as he says.
'Very good. To start us off, I think it would be interesting for you to tell us about Harry Potter's relationship
with his family.'
50

Harry's family. He must mean the Dursleys. They're not going to need to know what Harry thinks about his
dead parents.
I could answer this question. Harry hates the Dursleys; to tell Lucius this wouldn't affect anything. All it
would mean is that Voldemort wouldn't be able to use them to get to him.
But I'm not going to make Lucius' job easy for him.
For them. He's not on his own anymore.
In a way, I wish he was. I know what to expect from him, at least. I don't know anything about what Dolohov
could do, or what Bellatrix Lestrange could do if she turns up.
He's waiting for an answer.
'His parents are dead, Lucius.' He flinches slightly as I say his name. 'I thought that everyone knew that.'
I feel that stinging slap on my cheek again, but I'm so used to it now that I don't even draw breath. I keep my
eyes steadily on his.
'Firstly, Mudblood, I think I made it clear yesterday that I will not accept insolence from you. Secondly, you
know full well that I am not asking you about his parents. I am asking about the family he lives with. His
Aunt, his Uncle, and his cousin. Don't feign stupidity, please. It doesn't suit you.'
What does he mean by that?
It doesn't matter.
I can't answer him, even though giving him this information can't really cause any harm. I can't answer him
because I can't let him beat me again.
'I'm sorry,' I say, watching him closely for his reaction. 'Harry never mentioned his family to us. I don't know
anything about them.'
He takes a deep breath. He knows that I'm lying. Of course he does. He steps closer to me, and grips me by
the chin, looking down into my face.
'You're looking tired,' he says, a patronising edge to his voice. 'And not all that well either, if truth be told.
You don't look as if you could withstand much pain this evening.'
'There's nothing wrong with me!' I hiss at him, even though my head's pounding so badly my ears are
roaring. 'I am perfectly capable of facing anything you are prepared to throw at me, so I suggest that you
stop wasting time and get it over with, because I won't answer you.'
I expect him to smile, to take the opportunity I have presented to him and use it to cause me more pain. I
expect him to instantly attempt to force an answer out of me.
But he doesn't. He just stares back at me long and hard, his grip tight on my chin.
'It's not wise to provoke me, Miss Granger. I thought I had taught you that lesson yesterday.' He brings his
wand up to my face, and uses it to brush a lock of hair away from my cheek. 'Don't be a fool, now-'
'I'm not a fool,' I snap at him. I'm sick of him calling me that. 'If I were a fool then I would tell you what
Harry thinks of his family without hesitation.'
51

He takes a deep breath through his nose, his mouth set in a very thin line.
The knowledge that I'm pissing him off terrifies me, but at the same time makes me feel elated, excited.
Satisfied. It's the one small bit of power I have over him: the ability to make him angry.
'Oh, come on, Lucius!' I jump slightly at Dolohov's voice. I'd almost forgotten he was here. 'She's not going
to answer, not without a bit of encouragement. Let's teach her a lesson-'
'No,' says Lucius, his eyes still on me. His words are for me, I know this. 'I want to give her the opportunity
to answer us first.'
He steps back from me then, giving me space to breathe once more. I look from Dolohov's pale, twisted face
to Lucius' smoothly aristocratic one.
'Your attitude has changed since yesterday,' I say quietly, looking at Lucius. 'Don't tell me you listened to
what I said to you.'
His face darkens slightly.
Oh yes. Make him angry. Use that power over him.
Dolohov looks enquiringly at him.
'What's she talking about?'
I raise my eyebrows at Lucius, who glares back at me.
I dare you to tell him.
I fucking dare you!
'Nothing. She just thinks she's being clever, that's all.'
He strides over to me and pulls me forward roughly by the arm, standing me in the middle of the room. I
wrench myself out of his grip. The pair of them begin to circle me lions with their prey.
'Harry Potter has never spoken to you about his family?' Lucius' voice brims with impatience. 'How long
have you been friends with him? It must be at least six years? I find it very hard to believe that in all that
time he has never mentioned his family, not even in passing.'
His voice is tight with suppressed rage. Well, I'll just have to face it when he inevitably snaps and starts to
torture me, because I'm not going to give him what he wants again.
'I've told you, I can't help you.' My voice is beginning to waver. 'He never once spoke to me about them.'
Dolohov stops next to the levitating parchment, and looks down at what is written there. 'She's lying.'
'Of course she's lying!' Lucius hisses, finally losing his patience.
Oh God, he's going to hurt me again!
Of course he is. What were you expecting him to do when you refused to give him what he wants? You can't
have it both ways.
52

Lucius comes closer to me, so close that he's practically standing on my toes. 'This is your last chance,' he
says to me, his voice very low, so low it makes my heart catch in my throat. I don't think he intends for
Dolohov to hear him. 'You know what I can do. I can make you suffer horrors beyond imagining with a mere
wave of my wand. Tell me what I need to know, and you need not go through yet more pain.' He pauses, and
when he speaks again his voice is so quiet even I can barely hear him. 'Or have you not learned your lesson
since yesterday?'
I take a deep breath, trying to clear my head.
Why don't I let him win, just this once?
Because you promised yourself that you would never do that. Don't let them win remember, Hermione?
I meet his eyes, and when I speak my voice is almost as quiet as his own.
'No. I guess I'm not such a fast learner, after all.'
Something glints in his eyes. He steps back, and speaks to Dolohov without looking away from me.
'You may do the honours, Antonin.'
Why won't he do it himself? For the last few days he seems to have relished causing me pain.
Then I remember him laughing as Voldemort tortured me. So at ease when he could watch somebody else do
his dirty work for him.
Coward.
He's looking at me, frowning slightly.
I remember what Harry told me about Legimilency that weird mind-reading trick that Snape had to teach
him about. What did he say? You need to make eye contact in order for it to work.
I might not be able to do Legimilency myself, but I'm sure that a fully trained wizard such as Lucius Malfoy
can.
I think the word 'Coward' with all of my might, all the while keeping my gaze fixed on his. I scream the
word in my head, focusing every nerve, every particle of my brain on that little word, all the while staring at
him so hard that it makes my eyes water.
His frown deepens as he continues to meet my gaze. He knows what I'm thinking. I'm sure of it.
Good.
Dolohov distracts me by stepping forward, his features alight with excitement.
'Keep her conscious if you can,' Lucius says coolly.
If you can? Oh, Jesus!
Dolohov smiles complacently. 'I'm not an idiot, you know.'
Lucius pulls a face which demonstrates that he doesn't quite hold with that view.
53

My instinct to laugh leaves me the moment that my gaze falls on Dolohov. He makes that familiar, slashing
movement with his wand, muttering an incantation that I can't hear over the thumping of my own heartbeat
roaring in my ears, not again not again no no!
Purple light streaks out of the end of his wand.
Oh my God, my CHEST! My ribs have broken, all of them, my organs have collapsed, oh it hurts, it hurts so
much! I want to faint, reach for the dark, reach, reach darknessnopainStill conscious.
Everything's dark, and pain remains, spins through my ribs, heart, chest. Stabbing, pulling, snapping.
Tearing pain in my knees, yes, knees, as I fall, and now only the dark, the pain, and the voices.
'Give it some thought, Miss Granger.' Lucius' voice. 'This information is nothing compared to what you gave
us yesterday. You don't even know these people. What does it matter to you what we find out about them?'
No. Don't let them win, don'tletthemwin.
Crushing vice, python around ribs'Just say 'yes' if you want to help us,' says Lucius, his voice so, so far away. 'We'll stop this right now, if you
want'
Another wave of pain, crushing my ribs into my lungs and my heart. Dizzy with the pain, feel sick with it
wave after wave of agony, screaming, chest collapsing, why am I still conscious?
Head shutting down, no thoughts, pain. Pain. Slicing through ribs, cracking bones, nothing worth this,
nothingnothingI open my mouthAnd then it stops.
Twanging spasms of pain are still running through me, but the intensity is lessening with each pulsing wave.
My mind is clearing. I can feel not only my body, but the cold floor beneath it. The darkness is fading around
me.
I open my eyes slowly.
Why did they stop?
I look up slowly, my whole body shaking, and I realise that there are now four of us in the room.
The door of my cell is open, and a dark-haired woman is leaning languidly on the doorframe with a smile on
her beautiful, wasted face.
'Having fun, are we?' she asks, her voice thick with sadistic pleasure. She steps into the room and pushes the
door shut behind her, locking it with a lazy flick of her wand.
Dolohov backs away from her, eyeing her with a kind of abashed reverence, but Lucius meets her imperious
gaze as an equal, and smiles back at her.
54

'You're late,' he says, without any real reproach in his voice.


She shrugs, that evil smile not leaving her face.
'Something came up. Rudolphus and I encountered a Muggle family walking their dog on our way over
here.' She licks her lips, slowly. 'I'm afraid we just couldn't resist.'
I gulp.
Dolohov chuckles. Lucius raises his eyebrows at her, sharing that sick smile of hers.
'Indeed. But business before pleasure, Bella; you know that.'
She smirks at her brother-in-law, before shifting her gaze on to me. Somehow, god knows how, I meet her
eyes. They're skittish, like they've got too much energy on them.
'You're not making a brilliant start, are you?' she says mockingly. 'There's barely a scratch on her. Has she
talked?'
'Not yet, but she will,' says Lucius, who look down at me as he stands next to Bellatrix. 'She did yesterday,
quickly enough.'
Anger boils and steams like a spring inside of me, and I speak before I can stop myself.
'You had to drag every word I said out of me, and you know it-'
He flicks his wand at me quickly, and my teeth sink into my tongue before I can say anymore.
'You'll speak when spoken to,' says Lucius as I wince with pain. Evil, arrogant, vindictive bastard.
'She has too much pride, thought god only knows why.' His voice is dripping with derision as he smirks at
me. He's talking to Bellatrix, but his words are meant for me. 'One would think that a muggle would be just a
little abashed in the presence of purebloods such as ourselves.'
'I'm not a muggle-' I start to say, but Lucius forces me to bite down on my tongue again. My teeth sink into
the meaty thickness of it, cutting the flesh, making it bleed.
Bellatrix gives a small, malicious giggle.
'Well, first things first - you need to break her spirit.' Her eyes positively glitter with excitement. 'Physical
pain is a marvellous tool; I know that above all things. Nothing is more guaranteed to loosen a stubborn
tongue. But you've got to soften them up first; it makes the task in hand a lot easier in the long run.'
She's evil. Twisted. A complete and utter psycho!
'And, of course,' she goes on remorselessly, 'it makes things a lot more fun for us, doesn't it?'
Dolohov laughs callously, a grating, guttural sound. Lucius smiles slightly, and he gestures to me as he
speaks to her.
'Why don't you start us off?'
I look up at him, horror robbing me of my breath and stopping my heart.
He smile widens as he reads the emotions on my face.
55

'Go on, Bella,' he drawls. 'Show us how it's done.'


I can't believe him! If he wants to hurt me, why can't he do it himself?
'Coward,' I whisper.
He sees me, though neither of the others do. His smile vanishes and a muscle twitches slightly in his face as
he reads my lips.
Bellatrix steps towards me, crouches down and looks into my face. I meet her mad, feverish eyes, attempting
to keep my expression neutral.
'You appear to be sweating,' she says with distain. 'Is it too hot in here for you? I was under the impression
that this room was on the chilly side.'
Does she have to point it out? I'm so warm my hair is damp on my neck.
'Perhaps you are wearing too many layers.'
No. Oh God, no!
I feel sick with panic and icy chunks run through my veins.
I look up at Lucius, expecting him to put his foot down as he did with Dolohov. But he doesn't say anything.
He just watches Bellatrix with a slight frown on his face.
She stands up.
'Get up, Mudblood,' she says. 'It is impolite to sit in the presence of your betters.'
She's so similar to Lucius. Maybe he married the wrong Black sister. God, what kind of unholy union would
that be?
'Why else do you think I'm remaining on the floor?' I say quietly. 'I see none of my 'betters' here.'
She continues to smile down at me.
'Oh dear,' she says. 'She has ideas above her station. Never mind, I am sure I can find a remedy for that.'
She flicks her wand at me.
Spasms of pain run in shivers down my back, again and again.
And again.
And it gets worse as it goes on, worse and worse with every juddering shiver.
Get up, Hermione. It's not worth it.
I pull myself up on to my feet, nearly collapsing forward as I do so. The pain stops as soon as I stand up.
I look at the three of them. Bellatrix is smiling triumphantly. Dolohov is laughing at me. Lucius' face is a
blank mask once more.
56

'She certainly is a wilful one,' says Bellatrix. 'I think that stripping away her dignity might do her the world
of good.' She turns to her brother-in-law. 'Do you want to do the honours, Lucius?'
Lucius' lip curls up in disgust.
'Please, Bella, I only ate half an hour ago.'
Those words really hurt me. They hit me like a slap in the face. I don't know why, but I can't stand it. He just
seems so determined to make me feel as much like shit as is humanly possible.
'Please yourself.' Bellatrix shrugs, turning to Dolohov. 'Antonin? I know that you have leanings, shall we
say. You can do it.'
Dolohov comes over to me, rubbing his hands with glee. I quite literally feel my stomach turn. I step
backwards, but he chuckles softly, enjoying the sport.
Get away from me don't touch me I don't want to
My back bumps into the wall. I press myself into the stone, and he stands in front of me, so close that I can
smell his putrid breath, feel the warmth of it on my face. It makes me want to gag.
'Oh, I am going to enjoy this,' he says, practically licking his lips in anticipation.
I won't let him do this!
I won't let them do this!
He reaches forward and puts his hand under my t-shirt, on my stomach. All of my muscles tense
involuntarily. I can't stand it. I kick outHe recoils, howling and clutching at his crotch. Bellatrix screams with laughter. I look at Lucius, to see how
he's reacting to more 'disobedience' on my part.
His mouth is twitching slightly, as if he's repressing the desire to laugh.
'You little BITCH!' Dolohov roars, stopping their hilarity dead. He makes to move back over to me, but
Lucius grabs hold of him by the arm before he can reach me.
'Now now, Antonin, don't take it personally,' he says soothingly. 'You've got to see her point of view. After
all, what self respecting woman would let you near them if she wasn't being paid for it?'
Bellatrix smirks at that, while Dolohov colours up with resentment.
Bellatrix flicks her wand at me, and I fall to the floor. I try to move but my muscles are slack and useless.
It's the exact same curse that Lucius placed on me in the woods.
I hate it. I hate it more than the body binder curse, because my body can still move, should someone else
choose to move it for me. They can manipulate my body any way they want to, and I'd have to accept it,
because I'd have no choice.
I've fallen onto my side. I suppose that's better than falling onto my back. At least from here I can see around
the room.
57

I look to Lucius, willing him to do something, anything, to help me. But he doesn't even look at me. His eyes
are fixed on a middle distance, deliberately looking anywhere but at me.
Coward.
It's the one thought that comforts me.
'Go ahead, Antonin,' says Bellatrix smugly. 'She will not fight back now, you can be sure of that.'
'Is this really necessary, Bella?' asks Lucius, frowning at her. 'Isn't this somewhat beneath us? She is a
Muggle, after all-'
'You said that she has too much pride,' she replies. 'What better way to begin to take it away? As you say,
she's a muggle. That makes her little more than an animal. Animals don't need clothing. It makes sense,
doesn't it?'
He doesn't reply, but gives the tiniest of nods.
I take that nod, and add it to my file for reasons to hate him.
My insides shrivel up as Dolohov crouches down next to me, pulling each item of clothing off of me with a
terrible slowness. My skin crawls with a thousand cockroaches, and no, NO, this can't be happening, I want
my mum and dad, and I can't have them seeing me naked, they can't, noLucius won't look at me.
I watch him, more to distract myself than anything else.
I hate him so much. That I can cling to for sanity.
Look at me, you coward!
Flakes of dried blood scatter lightly on my skin as my t-shirt is pulled up over my head, and stop stop stop!
Please stop!
I would beg if I were able to speak.
He peels my muddy jeans off of me, slowly edging them inch by inch down my legs.
When I thought how nice it would be to have a change of clothes, this wasn't what I had in mind.
Still Lucius keeps his eyes off of me. He keeps them fixed on a middle distance.
Look at me. Look at what you won't stop.
Dolohov finally removes my underwear, and his breathing quickens over me. I would heave up the pathetic
excuse for a meal they gave me if I could.
I look at Lucius with tears of pure humiliation in my eyes. He won't look at me. Why not?
Why not?
LOOK AT ME!
At that moment his eyes fall on me. But he's not looking at my body. He stares straight into my eyes.
58

COWARD, I scream inwardly, focusing every atom of my being on those two syllables.
His face clouds over. He can hear what I'm thinking. Good. Then perhaps he can feel even the slightest bit as
angry as I feel now.
A cold, clammy hand rests on my ribs, and I can't even jump for shock. Oh god, it's so low! Isn't it enough
for Dolohov that he was allowed to take my clothes off, for god's sake?
But almost as soon as he touches me he draws breath and quickly pulls his hand away from me as if he's
been burned.
'I may be willing to accept you looking at her, but you can't touch her.' Lucius is pointing is wand at
Dolohov. 'She's a Mudblood; remember it. Do try to show some dignity.'
'Oh, come on-' Dolohov begins imploringly, but Bellatrix cuts him short.
'No, Antonin, touching them is not allowed. You know that. We all know that.'
If I could, I would shudder.
Dolohov steps back from me with a reluctant sigh, and I feel my body shiver. I recognise the feeling; it
means I can move again. I sit up as quickly as I can, pulling my knees up and hugging them to my chest,
trying to cover as much of my body as possible.
I look up at all of them. Dolohov is leering at me. Bellatrix is smiling gloatingly. Lucius' face is impassive.
I hate how I can't do Legimilency like he can. I'd give anything to know what he's thinking. I've never found
it so difficult to read a person as I do with him.
'So,' Bellatrix turns to Lucius matter-of-factly, 'what do we have to get out of her first?'
'Potter's relationship with his remaining family,' he replies, his voice clipped and businesslike. 'So far, she
has not told us anything. She claims that he never mentioned them to her.'
'Does she now?' says Bellatrix, sneering at me. 'What methods have you used so far to make her talk?'
'Antonin placed a curse on her,' Lucius says indifferently. 'But it didn't seem to have much effect.'
Didn't seem to have much of an effect? I'd like to see him last five minutes under that curse. I'd like to
administer it myself. Watch the bastard scream and writhe in agony, oh yes.
'Ah, his old favourite!' Bellatrix chuckles, turning to Dolohov. 'You know I admire it, Antonin, but you've got
to branch out once in a while-'
'Why branch out, if it works?' I can hear the resentment in Dolohov's voice. 'She would have spoken soon
enough if you hadn't interrupted us.'
'Yes, I'm sure she would have.' Lucius rolls his eyes at Bellatrix as he speaks. 'But I have to say I agree with
you Bella. Variety is, after all, the spice of life.'
Bellatrix smiles at me, and I cringe with terror.
'Lucius, I'm sure that you can do better than Antonin.' She gestures to me. 'Let me see your favoured
methods; I might learn a trick or two. Improve my technique, perhaps.'
59

God almighty. What am I, a lab rat?


Lucius looks down at me, his face completely unreadable.
Will he do it? I thought that perhaps, after what I said yesterday, he might not be able to hurt me today
How wrong I was. He's calmly stepping towards me, twirling his wand between his fingers.
I curl myself up tighter against the wall, determined to keep my body hidden from him. Not that he's
interested in it, anyway.
He stands above me, and taps his wand against his chin as he looks at me, making a show of deciding what
method to use.
How could I think that I'd got through to him? How could I be stupid enough to believe that Lucius Malfoy,
a man who has murdered and tortured countless others without remorse, could feel pity for a Mudblood
teenager?
He slowly brings his wand down, and points it at my face. For a few moments, nothing happens, and I
wonder whether he really is going to curse me, and I shake and sweat as I wait and I wonder
Until my eyes begin to burn.
No. It can't, it must be
I rub my eyes hastily, but it only makes them worse, and I keep rubbing but the burning gets worse, and
worse, and pins, needles, hundreds of injections in my eyes, animals clawing them out of their sockets
I can still see! Everything's blurry, but I can still see through the gaps in my fingers. I rub at my eyes
desperately, but there's a wetness tears, or something else.
I dash the liquid from my eyes, and my fingers come away coated with blood.
I can't take it. I begin to scream in shock and horror and agony as my eyes burn and weep blood, and oh my
god how can I still see? I feel blood pop out of my eyes and stream down my face and it feels like nails are
being screwed into my eyeballs, scraping them out of their sockets, and I know that I can't go on. This could
blind me'He hates them, alright!' I scream at them. 'He can't stand them he doesn't even live with them anymore!'
For a few agonising moments, nothing happens.
But then my eyes stop burning.
I breathe heavily, wiping the blood from my face as best as I can. I feel the warm, sticky, bitter-sweet
smelling liquid smear across my face under my fingers. When I open my eyes, my vision is no longer blurry.
It still amazes me how I can be at the height of agony one minute and yet perfectly alright again the next.
That's magic for you.
Magic suddenly doesn't seem as wonderful as it used to.
I can see them all looking in each-other, each of the wearing an expression of disappointment.
60

Oh God, what did I tell them?


It's ok. They can't use that to hurt anyone. It's ok, it's alright, okay, okay, okay.
I repeat this sorry little mantra in my head to shut out all other thoughts that I'm weak, disgusting,
despicableIt's ok, it's alright, okay, okay, okay
Dolohov checks the parchment, before turning to the others, who wait for what he says with grim
expressions.
'She's telling the truth.'
Lucius and Bellatrix both curl their lips up in displeasure.
'Damn,' Bellatrix says under her breath.
'It doesn't matter,' says Lucius. 'She named plenty of people he could use instead yesterday. When he needs
someone, he will have a huge amount of names to choose from. He will have to strike his family off of his
list of possibilities, but I'm sure that will not matter to him.'
The three of them all turn away from each other, back to face me. I grip my knees yet tighter to my chest.
'You are doing well so far, Miss Granger,' says Lucius, his voice calm and almost pleasant. 'Do you begin to
understand, perhaps, that in this world there are no morals, and no principles - only irrational notions for
fools to cling on to?'
I take a deep breath through my nose. I won't give him any more of a victory over me than he already has.
'I'm afraid I don't understand.' My voice is shaking although I attempt to keep it level. 'Perhaps I need a
different teacher. Or perhaps you need to revise your methods, sir.'
I wait for the stinging magical slap across my face, but it doesn't come. The three of them just stand there,
smiling at each other.
'Oh, she's a brave little baby, isn't she?' says Bellatrix.
'You don't know this one like I do, Bella,' says Lucius, regarding me with a small smile. 'She does so like to
keep up a charade of courage. But you should have seen her after a few rounds of pain yesterday; I made her
cry like the little girl she is.'
His words cause something deep within me to shatter.
'I'm not a little girl!' I scream, banging my fists in rage against the wall behind me. 'I'm not a baby! I'm
seventeen years old! I'm as adult as any of you!'
There's a long silence, and then Bellatrix starts to snigger slightly, and before long the three of them are
laughing at me. And they all start clapping me; bringing their hands together in a slow, derisive applause.
I can't bear it. I can't stand them mocking me!
'SHUT UP!' I scream. I want to stand up, to face them on their own level, but my desire to keep my body
hidden from them overrides my pride. 'JUST SHUT UP, SHUT UP!'
61

They stop clapping, and their laughter dies away as they all look at me with incredulous smirks on their
faces.
'Perhaps she needs a few more lessons in respect, Lucius,' says Dolohov. 'It appears that she still has some
learning to do.'
They all watch me as I take some deep breaths in an attempt to get a hold of myself.
'Let's ask her another question,' says Bellatrix, her eyes alight with challenge. 'But let's make it one that she
can't possibly answer without a struggle. Let her realise just how quickly she can crack under pressure. I am
sure that will knock the arrogance out of her.'
Lucius smiles at her. 'I like that idea, Bella. And I have an idea of what we might ask her. As you know, the
Dark Lord has always been unable to touch the boy while he resides in his Aunt's house. But, as the
Mudblood has informed us, Potter no longer lives with his aunt. If we could discover where he is currently
residing, then the Dark Lord will be able to seek him out without having to worry about the protection the
boy's mother's blood provides for him.'
Oh oh god.
Oh god, what have I done?
How could I have known that telling them what I did would lead to this?
No. It doesn't matter. It doesn't, because I'm not going to give them this. I won't. Not even if they take me to
hell itself.
Lucius turns back to me.
'Where is Harry Potter, Mudblood?'
I just stare at him. I can't answer that. It's one thing to put your friends in danger, as I did yesterday, but it's
quite another to put one in the direct line of fire. Besides, telling them where he is wouldn't just put Harry in
danger. It would lead them to Ron, and the rest of the Weasleys, and anyone else who might be staying there
for the wedding.
They all watch me, awaiting an answer, but I look only at Lucius. He knows I'm not going to answer without
a fight, he must know that by now. But he's waiting for my initial response with a slight smile on his face.
He enjoys this. He enjoys forcing me into giving them what I so badly want to keep from them. He might
hate my 'disobedience', but he also enjoys watching me being forced into submission.
I raise my head as high as I can before I answer.
'I won't tell you.' I'm saying this more to Lucius than to either of the others. My real battle is against him, I
realise that now. It has been ever since he appeared in my bedroom at home. 'You know that I won't. More
than that, I can't tell you. So you might as well move on to your next question, because you won't get an
answer to that out of me.'
All three of them continue to smile, and Lucius smiles the widest, enjoying this game he has played with me
many times now.
'We'll see about that,' he says quietly. 'I'm inclined to believe that you'll tell all, soon enough.'
I won't. I'll never tell, never, never, never62

'Shall we use cruciatus?' asks Dolohov rolling up his sleeves.


'No,' says Lucius. 'Not yet. I think we can afford a little experimentation, first.'
Experimentation?
My body tenses, preparing itself for what's to come almost wearily.
How long will it be before you get sick of this game, Hermione?
I push that thought out of my mind, squash it, kill it, and I focus on what Lucius is going to do to me now in
this moment.
But he surprises me. Instead of pointing his wand at me, he flicks it in mid-air beside him, and catches a
pretty, ornate silver hand mirror in his hand.
What the
Dolohov and Bellatrix watch him curiously as he crouches down next to me. I wrap my arms around my
knees, pulling them up to my chest. I look at my knees bruised knees, I realise steadfastly not looking at
him.
'You'll get sick of this in the end, you know,' he murmurs to me. 'Everybody does.'
I ignore him, and he holds the hand mirror up in front of me.
'Look at yourself, Miss Granger.'
I see my pale, wax-yellow face staring back at me from the glass from eyes that are red-rimmed and
surrounded by purple circles. I have to say, I've looked better. There are traces of blood and dirt smeared all
over my face, and my frizzy hair is plastered to my head with sweat and grease.
'I imagine you've never really liked the way you look, have you?' Lucius asks, his voice cold and cruel. 'I
have to say, I don't blame you. You're not exactly a beauty, are you?'
The words hit me like a slap. I've never been happy with my looks. With good reason, if what I can see in
this mirror is anything to go by. And now I've had it spelled out for me by him. He thinks I'm hideous.
Why do you care about how he thinks you look?
I don't care! He can stick his bloody superior attitude and his arrogance, and his expensive clothes, and
andMy face.
It's changing.
My my teeth. My two front teeth are growing! Larger, and larger, and I can't keep my lips over them any
more, and before I know where I am, shit, I've got an overbite worthy of a beaver.
A whimper escapes my lips, and as it does I feel a shiver run over my head. I instinctively run my hand over
it, and my hair is falls away from my head, coming away in my fingers.
I gasp out a dry sob, and I grip at the back of my head, but clumps of brown frizz come loose in my fingers,
and before I know where I am I'm almost completely bald.
63

That's it. I can't hold in anymore. I burst into tears as it all comes screaming to the surface. I cover my eyes
with my hands, unable too look at my reflection anymore.
I hear him stand up and walk away from me. I cower naked against the wall, clinging to my bald head with
both hands and sobbing through my new teeth.
Bellatrix is laughing.
How can she find this funny?
'That's brilliant!' She's laughing so hard that she can barely speak. 'Oh god, that is absolutely priceless!'
I really begin to sob then. I wail out my pain and my humiliation and my hatred, clutching at my poor, bald
head.
'Miss Granger,' Lucius has to shout to make himself heard over my sobs and Bellatrix's laughter, 'you don't
have to stay like that. If you tell me what I what we want to know, I shall allow your hair to grow back,
and your teeth to shrink again. Just say the word.'
'What do you think I am?' I say, struggling to get my words out. My new teeth make me dribble as I try to
talk. 'Do you think I care tho much about my l-lookth'
That's what I try to say, anyway. But I'm obviously not making a very good job of it. Every word trips me up;
my teeth making me lisp and slobber.
I can hear Bellatrix and Dolohov screaming with laughter. Fresh tears come to my eyes, and I grip myself
around my head, rocking back and forth as I sob; big, hard, painful gulps that hurt my entire body.
I'm a monster!
'Oh this is too much!' says Bellatrix, struggling to get her breath through her laughter. 'Granted, you weren't a
beauty before, but God knows it was an improvement on how you look now.'
I hate her, I HATE HER!
'LEAVE ME ALONE, YOU HEARTLETH BITCH!' I scream.
For a while I keep my hands over my head, trying to get my sobbing under control. It takes me a few
moments to realise that they've stopped laughing.
I look up at them. They're all smiling at me.
'Do you think you're being noble?' Lucius asks, a sadistic smile slashed across his face. 'Do you think you're
being strong? Because I don't believe that you are. I think you're faking it. I can see the fear, and the pain
written all over that hideous face of yours. Just how much longer can you keep this charade going?'
'A heartless bitch, am I?' asks Bellatrix, something awful glimmering in those black eyes of hers as she
smiles at me. 'Oh, believe me, I haven't even started. Stay still, little girl, and I will show you just how
heartless I can be.'
She slowly raises her wand.
'Crucio!'
64

Oh sweet Jesus, it's worse, SO MUCH WORSE! Kick legs out, kick thin air, chocking, blinding pain, surely
about to dieIt leaves me. I collapse onto my side, weeping silently.
'Would you like a go, Antonin?'
'Oh no, please!'
They're not listening. They're enjoying themselves too much.
Dolohov's deep voice rings out clearly;
'Crucio!'
Aaaaaaaaaargh, noooo! I can't do this, I can't, can't do this! Acid tears pulled out from shredded brain, what
have I done? WHAT DID I DO?
The pain vanishes. I can't stop shaking, and I can't stop crying through my giant, disgusting teeth.
I hear Lucius' voice over the sound of my own sobs.
'I can't allow you two to have all the fun.'
Oh no, what's wrong with him?
'Crucio!'
Oh no, OH NO! Worse, worseworse than ever can't breathethinklive not stopping, never ending, on and on
and on, claw through flames, walls of fire, fight the pain, savage beasts, liquid mercury, ice-blue flame got
to finish, goawayaway, let me die'LET ME DIE!'
As if feel myself scream out those words, it finishes. It finally finishes.
I'm curled up in a ball, shaking and shaking. I hurt with the shaking.
Breathe. The breathing. I have to keep breathing. In. Out. Slowly. In Out
I can't even open my eyes.
Tell them, Hermione. You can't go on like this.
I can! I can go on!
I've got to.
I've got to!
'Talk, Miss Granger.' I hear Lucius' voice as though it's a million miles away. 'Talk, and you can end this. It's
entirely in your hands.'
'You've said that before,' I murmur. 'But it didn't end. It never ends.'
65

There's a long silence as I struggle to get my breath back. Sweat pours down my naked back.
'We can carry on like this, if you wish it,' Lucius' voice closer than it was before. 'But I wouldn't advise you
to take us down that route. You don't look as if you'll be able to take it.'
I keep my head on the floor, and I pull my answer out of the depths of my rage and my pain.
'I won't tell you this.' I'm almost whispering, but I'm sure that they can hear me. 'I have given you everything,
all of the information you have asked me for so far. Let that be enough for you. I won't lead you directly to
any of my friends. I'd rather die you have to understand that.'
There's a long, long silence.
Maybe they'll stop. Maybe they'll realise I'm not going to talk this time, no matter how hard they push me.
Then I feel myself being lifted vertically, up from the safe refuge of the ground into the cold, unforgiving air.
For a brief moment I see the three of them looking at me, before I am slammed back into the wall behind
me. Lightening bolts shoot through my body and all of the bones in my body feel like they've broken and I'm
bruised, I'm bruised all over. I try to move away from the wall, but I'm pinned there by something invisible.
Oh god, I'm naked!
But I'm sprawled on the stone and no matter how much I squirm it doesn't change that they can see
everything. Everything about the bald, toothy, bruised and bloody freak.
'Why won't you tell us?' asks Bellatrix. The smile has finally vanished from her face. I don't think she enjoys
it when things don't go her way. 'Why? Does it make you feel strong? Does it make you feel powerful; this
small, tiny little hold you have over the situation you are in?'
'I think it makes her feel good about herself,' Lucius says to Bellatrix, though he's looking at me. 'If she
denies us, then she can allow herself to believe that she is the one who is in the right. She can tell herself that
she is a good person for holding out against us, even if she must know that the eventual outcome is
inevitable.'
'It's got nothing to do with my own self-belief!' I say incredulously. 'I'm doing this to protect the people I
love! Can't you understand that?'
Stupid question.
Lucius sneers at me. ''Love is very overrated, Miss Granger. It is certainly not worth dying for. You will
discover that, in time.'
I don't understand him. It's like he's speaking a different language.
'Don't you love your wife, or your son?' I ask, although the last time I mentioned Draco to him I was
rewarded with a kicking. 'Wouldn't you die for them, if you had to?'
I don't know what I'm trying to achieve. To make him feel guilty, perhaps?
I should've known better. He turns from me, rolling his eyes at Bellatrix. 'Perhaps we need to take a different
approach.'
'What do you mean?' Dolohov asks him.
'I mean that if she won't respond to cruelty, then perhaps she might respond to kindness.'
66

He walks towards me and pulls the mirror out of his robes, holding it in front of me once again. Tears cling
to my eyelids as I take in the horror of my own reflection.
But then my face changes, once again. My teeth oh, thank god, they reduce in size, gradually shrinking
back to their normal state. I gasp in happy relief, and I watch my face return to some semblance of normality.
And almost at the same time, my hair grows again. The baldness completely disappears as my hair grows
back, big and bushy around my head, surrounding it like a big, brown, luminous halo. I run my hand over
my head, to check that it's not a trick of the mirror. But it's there, it's all there! God, it's glorious, it's
wonderful! Big, fluffy, bushy, wild
I'll never, ever complain about my appearance again.
But he doesn't stop there.
My hair it continues to change. The colour alters itself subtly; it's chestnut coloured, rather than it's usual
mousey brown. And all of the frizziness eases out of it, and it falls in beautiful ringlets around my shoulders,
cascading in gorgeous, glossy waves.
And there's something else. I think it's in my face itself.
The change is subtle, but at the same time immense. My bones seem to become finer. And my eyes are
bigger, and wider, with eyelashes so long I could almost pass for Bambi. The colour comes back in to my
cheeks, and my lips become full and perfectly pink.
I look beautiful. I can't quite describe it. I still look like myself, but then I look completely different. It
puts my appearance at the Yule Ball to shame.
It's as if all of my flaws have been smoothed away, rubbed out with an eraser, to be replaced by these new,
lovely features.
'Look what we could do for you.' Lucius' voice brushes through my hair. He sounds odd. 'With looks like
this, who needs love? Grown men would fall at your feet. Wars have been fought over beauty such as this.
Your looks could bring you power, riches beyond your wildest dreams.'
I look at him, and he's smiling slightly at me.
'Love just can't compare to what we could offer you,' he whispers.
I look back in the mirror, at my lovely, beautiful face, and I feel a tiny desire to giggle. I don't know why.
I move my gaze back up to Lucius, and the look in his eye isn't one I've seen in him before. It's not hatred, or
scorn. But then his eyes aren't expressionless either, as they have been so often as he has tortured me. His
eyelids are heavy as he stares down into my face, and there's the smallest of small smiles playing about his
lips.
It feels weird.
The spell holding me to the wall is lifted. I almost fall forwards onto the floor, but I manage to regain my
footing.
Lucius moves in front of me, and meets my gaze.
'Do we have a deal, Miss Granger?' he asks, raising an eyebrow at me. 'Will you tell us what we want to
know, in exchange for looks like this?'
67

I could almost laugh at the proposition. If Lucius thinks I'll give them Harry in return for looks, then he's a
sorry judge of character.
I look at my lovely new face in the mirror once more, and I mentally say goodbye to it before I answer him.
'No.'
Almost the instant that word leaves my mouth my hair is frizzy once again, and my face is as plain as it ever
was.
But at least I've got my hair again, and at least my teeth are normal.
I look at Lucius, who is staring at me intently.
'Fool,' he mutters, so that only I can hear him.
'I have had ENOUGH of this!' Bellatrix suddenly shouts. I jump, shocked out of Lucius' gaze. I'd almost
forgotten she and Dolohov were here.
She storms over to us, her face white with fury, and grabs me by the hair, pulling me across to the middle of
the room. My scalp burns and I fall to my knees.
What the hell? Only a second ago she was laughing at me, but nowShe wrenches my head up by my hair, and speaks into my ear with a quiet hysteria.
'Why? Hmm? Why?' Her voice is very high pitched, squealing and squeaking like a mouse caught in a
doorway. 'Why won't you talk? What do you think to gain from this? Why won't you do as you're told?'
I hear Lucius speaking from behind me.
'She's incapable of it, Bella-'
'No-one is incapable of it!' she interrupts him. She grabs me harder by the hair. I feel my scalp rip and my
pain prompts me to speak, although I know that I shouldn't.
'I am. I'm sorry, but I won't do as you tell me. I won't tell you where Harry is.'
'YOU WILL!' she screams suddenly in my ear, and I feel my ear drum burst. 'I WON'T PUT UP WITH
THISTHIS WILFUL DISOBEDIENCE! I'M SICK OF IT, DO YOU HEAR ME?'
I can feel her erratic breathing on her cheek. And now I know that Harry was right this woman really is
insane.
She raises her wand
'CRUCIO!'
Oh God, not again! I can't bear it! My skin is falling off, bones are on FIRE, acid and electric shock and
bladesShe lifts the curse from me, still clinging on to my hair.
'Tell us! TELL US WHERE HE IS!'
68

Sweat pours down my face. I can taste salt on my lips.


Tell her Hermione.
I WON'T!
I don't answer her. I won't give Harry away.
And so she stands up, and casts Crucio on me again.
And again.
And again.
Again,again,again.
It's never ending, it won't ever end! Burning, burning, turn over and burn some more, can't take the fire, the
endless fireOver and over and overover. Try to keep count, but pain erases the numbers.
Darkness takes over. Fight to the dark. Sweet mercy of unconciousness, but still feel the pain in the dark
void of agony. Hear only white noise and my own heartbeat. Floating in vacuum of airless agony.
Oh God, why won't she stop? Why? WHY?
'Crucio! CRUCIO!'
Feet pounding on the ground, and someone screaming nonsense meaningless, empty noises of agony. My
own screams.
I can't take it, I CAN'T!
Scream, shake, buck and writhe, think I'm going to die, and again, again, againagainBlades, knives, saws.
Fire, acid, ice.
Flesh. Bone. Blood.
Goingtodie Idon'tcare Nothingisworse than this
The curse lifts again. I wait in the darkness.
But the pain doesn't return. I come back into my body, and the darkness seeps away from me.
I open my eyes, and I see nothing. I push myself up onto my elbows, my stomach turning and squelching
and heaving. Burning acid surges up from my gut, grazing my chest as it shoots up to my throat. I heave and
heave, and acid and food and water all spill out of my mouth as I vomit all over the floor.
I shake over the pool of my own sick. How could I throw up so much after eating so little recently? It's all
over my forearms, and bits of food are caught in my hair.
69

None of them exclaim in disgust, like I expect them to. Lucius simply walks over and points his wand at the
pool of sick. It vanishes into thin air.
Perhaps he's used to this sort of thing by now.
I look up into his face, wishing more than anything to see some pity there.
But there is none. There is nothing. Just blank grey emptiness.
'Will you talk?' he asks me.
I want to. God help me, but I want to tell them.
But I can't!
I stay silent, fighting against every instinct I have in order to keep my mouth shut.
Shut closed tight quiet quiet quiet!
He stares at me with eyes of stone.
'Talk you little bitch!' Bellatrix shouts. I turn my head slightly, and I see that she's literally being held back
by Dolohov.
I look back up at Lucius.
'Don't tell me that you need another dose of pain, Mudblood,' he says, his voice very quiet. 'We won't stop
until we get what we want. You know this. What's the point in holding out anymore?'
Do it do it do it!
I won't do it!
Lucius waits for a few moments, before he points his wand at me again.
'Crucio!'
Explosion of pain, shards of glass, embedded in flesh and muscle and tissue, blood of acid and no, no, it's
over, I can't, over, NOW'NO!' I scream, and the pain leaves me again.
I look up at Lucius, who is staring at me with no emotion whatsoever, and I know that this is it. I can't go on.
I can't take anymore. I've reached my limit.
'Tell me.'
He says it without any doubt of what I'm going to do. He knows he's won.
'He's gone to the Burrow,' I whisper, my eyes filling with tears. 'Ron's house. He's staying with the Weasleys.'
My throat closes with tears, and my nose blocks up, and my eyes burn and I can't say any more. Not that it
matters. The damage is done.
Coward.
70

SHUT UP SHUT UP!


Dolohov goes to inspect the parchment.
'She's telling the truth.'
I wrap my arms around my head and rock back and forth, wanting to block out everything, wanting it all to
go away, to disappear.
'Oh, do stop snivelling,' Lucius drawls. 'It's over now, isn't it?'
I want to die.
Bellatrix gives a small, triumphant laugh.
I try to get up, but I collapse onto all fours almost as soon as I attempt to get to my feet.
Why couldn't I be strong? Why couldn't I just hold out?
They'd have killed you, Hermione.
I don't care! I should have let them do it!
Coward. Weak, feeble, pathetic
My head is aching so badly it's splitting, I know it.
I want to go home, to my happy family to my own bed and for everything to go away.
I want to wake up from this nightmare.
I hear Lucius' voice.
'We should tell the Dark Lord about this now,' he says to the other two. 'He may still be able to catch Potter
at the Weasley's home, if he acts swiftly.'
They don't know where the Burrow is. It'll be alright, they won't be able to find them
I feel myself collapse onto my front.
Lucius laughs. 'Well done, Mudblood.'
But I can see unconsciousness in front of me, and this time it takes me in its hold, and I know nothing but
silence and infinite darkness.
5. Cruel Hope
'Your eyes are made of glass. They break. You are not brave.
You are alone like a dog in a kennel. Your hands
break out in boils. Your arms are cut and bound by bands
of wire. Your voice is out there. Your voice is strange.
There are no prayers here. Here there is no change.' Anne Sexton, Angels Of The Love Affair
71

Hot sun, cloudless sky summer. The grounds of Hogwarts, filled with students relaxing in the sunshine.
Move through the air, no one sees me, no one knows me, I don't know them no, I know one of them - I can
see Ginny by the lake
But it's not Ginny. It looks like her, with her red hair and pretty, cheeky face, but this girl has a longer nose
and wavier hair than my friend. And she's younger can't be more than fourteen, surelyShe takes off her shoes, dipping her feet into the lake.
'Careful. The squid'll get hold of you.' The red headed boy sitting next to her doesn't look up from the book
he's reading when he speaks.
She throws him a mischievous smile over her shoulder. 'Don't be such an old woman.'
The boy smiles, still not looking up from his book. It's 'The Guide to Advanced Trasfiguration'.
I was making my way through that book, before'Only you would study the day before school ends,' the girl says, rolling her eyes. Brown eyes. Bigger, darker
than Ginny's
He still doesn't look up from his book. 'Just because you don't care about O.W.L's and N.E.W.T's, doesn't
mean that none of us do.'
She tosses her hair back in a slightly petulant gesture. 'I can think of better ways to occupy my time.' She
grins at some passing sixth-year boys, earning an appreciative whistle from one of them.
'Oi, leave off our sister!'
That good natured shout doesn't come from the red-haired boy. It comes from the person sitting just next to
him. A boy that I can't see
Fading, fading. Darkness. Silence.
A whisper.
'Your children.'
Cold. Ice cold stone, the entire length of my backMy children. As they will be, or as they might have been?
Beads of sweat roll down my face.
I open my eyes. There is no sunlight here.
My tongue comes unstuck from the top of my mouth. I taste stale, bitter vomit.
I roll myself upwards into a sitting position. My head drums with pain. It throbs with a dull, pounding
rhythm behind my eyes.
I push my balled up fists into my temples, trying to drive the dream out of my mind. I can't afford to dwell
on fantasy. It would only allow me to hope.
72

Hope is a cruel thing. It makes you believe that things could get better, if only you tried hard enough. I used
to believe that.
I'm not sure whether I do now. I don't know what to believe anymore.
'You must have a very clear conscience. You sleep like a baby.'
I start at that voice, and I turn to see Lucius standing on the other side of my cell. He's smirking at me.
Smirking.
'I was starting to think you might never wake up.'
Would he have felt the tiniest bit guilty if I hadn't?
No. Not if he could do what he did when he last saw me and not feel any remorse.
Instinctively I catch a lock of my hair in between my fingers, just to make sure it's still there. It is, thank god.
It's easier to dwell on that than the pain. I won't try and remember that.
'You're not very talkative today, Mudblood,' he drawls. 'What a change this makes after the last few days.
You have only ever seemed most eager to talk, so far.'
Talk. Yes, I've done nothing but talk. Stupid, weak thing that I am, I've given them everything they've asked
for.
I feel unclean. I need to wash, to scrape the slimy guilt off of me.
How could I do it? They're all going to die. Ron, Harry, all of the Weasleys, all because of my stupid
weakness.
It might be alright. You didn't give away the Burrow's location.
Hope. That cruel flame lights up in my chest. And again, I recite the mantra key to my sanity It's okay,
you're alright, it's okay, okayLucius points his wand at the ground in front of me, and a small loaf of bread and a goblet of water pop up
out of thin air on the floor.
'Please, eat.'
I reach for the food, my common sense and my hunger over-riding my pride. It doesn't take me long to finish
it. I eat up every last crumb, and I down the water in a matter of seconds, and still I'm so hungry I feel as if I
could cry.
When I've finished my tiny excuse for a meal I lift my eyes up to stare at him. His smirk grows wider. I say
nothing.
'So you're really not going to talk to me?' he asks eventually. 'How disappointing. I have so enjoyed our little
chats-'
'Do you want something?' I ask wearily.
His smile flickers slightly when I refuse to play along with him.
73

I relish that flicker. That's one small amount of control I have over him I can make him angry. And if I can't
eat, then I can feed off that anger, at least.
'The Dark Lord has asked me to take you up to the Great Hall.'
All of my breath seems to leave my body all at once. I was hoping I'd never have to see Voldemort again.
'Why?' I ask, wanting to keep him talking, to put off the moment when I have to see that horrible face again.
'Why does he want to see me? He said he didn't have the time to bother with me-'
'Oh, please don't flatter yourself.' He smirks. 'This meetingisn't going to be centred around you. No, he just
wants you to be there to witness his return, which should be very soon, if all goes to plan.'
'His return?' I ask, my stomach hollow.
'Hmm.' He makes a show of inspecting his nails and polishing them on his robes, creating quite a picture of
nonchalance. 'His return from the Weasleys' home.'
What?
My insides shrivel up and turn themselves inside out. I try to speak. I open my mouth and try to push words
out, but none will come.
He smiles, disturbing the charade of indifference he is putting up.
'When he discovered that Potter was residing with the Weasleys he decided to pay them a visit.'
His voice is heavy with sadistic pleasure. It pulls words out of me. Stupid, meaningless words, words that
don't matter. Words to stop myself from falling into the darkness of guilt.
'How how does he know where they live?'
'My dear girl, I thought you were supposed to be intelligent.' He breathes a small laugh. 'Do you really think
that we hadn't troubled to find the location of Harry Potter's best friends during the last two years? Granted,
you were easier to track down than Weasley was, what with that ridiculous Muggle 'Phone book' of yours.'
I don't understand
'If you've always known where the Weasleys live, then why have you left them alone all this time?'
He rolls his eyes in pure exasperation. 'Why don't you try and guess? Why don't you try using that incredible
brain of yours, for a change?'
I swallow down my indignation and I try to think through the situation logically.
'You wanted to keep them alive in case you might need to use them to get to Harry.'
Lucius' smile widens.
'Very good.' His gloating smirk is stretched so wide I'm surprised it doesn't split his face in half. 'I have to
say, it's rare, so rare, to find someone of your background with a bit of basic intelligence.'
'You can't just assume that because someone is muggle-born it automatically makes them stupid-'
74

'Oh, but it's an assumption that has such a substantial amount of evidence to back it up.' His grin disappears.
'You only have to look at the muggle world to realise their infinite stupidity. Deliberately numbing their
minds with that ridiculous 'technology' of theirs; forever pushing the boundaries of the universe to breaking
point, never considering that some things are better left alone; so adamant that progress should be made only
for its own sake-'
'But you can't halt progress!' I say sharply. 'Things have to change that's the only way we can evolve as a
species.'
He raises his wand, and a sting spread quickly across my cheek. I swallow down the bile that rises in my
throat.
'Imbeciles, every one of them,' he goes on, ignoring me completely. 'Unappreciative of culture, and scornful
of intelligence. Is it any wonder that freaks like you come into our world, trying to leave your own behind?'
Although I want to reply to him, I clamp my mouth shut, not wanting to provoke him any further. Cowardice
it might be, but I'm weary of pain.
He sneers at me, as if he is almost contemptuous of my servility now that he has it, before he continues with
his one-sided conversation.
'But I did not come here to debate the matter of your inferiority. Yes, that is the reason why we have kept that
pathetic family alive so that they may be used as a tool in the war against Potter. It was a gamble, I admit,
but one that has definitely paid off, don't you think?'
I don't answer. I just breathe deeply, trying to control my heart, which is banging so hard in my chest it feels
as if it is about to burst through my ribs.
'But the Dark Lord is not without mercy. He thought it might be, ah pleasant for you to see your friend
one last time before his execution. You will be briefly re-united with Potter when he returns with the Dark
Lord, before he is finally disposed of, once and for all.' He coughs delicately. 'You are allowed to show your
gratitude.'
I feel tears rip up from the pit of my stomach to burn under my eyelids. I can't breathe as the entire world
presses down on me, suffocating me, robbing me of air.
I've killed Harry. I've killed him.
Hot tears burst out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks.
And Ron, and Ginny, and the others. What's going to happen to them?
What do you think is going to happen to them?
'Why?' Every word is an effort. 'Why would he let me say goodbye to Harry?'
Lucius shrugs elegantly. 'I suggested it to him, and he was quite taken with the idea.'
My face creases into a frown. 'What on earth would make you think that I would want to see my best friend
being murdered?'
'Oh, you misjudge me. I didn't for a moment think that you would want to see it happen.' He smiles that
small, twisted smile again, his satisfaction filling the air like the warm scent of a stroked cat. 'That is
precisely why I suggested it in the first place.'
75

'What's the matter with you?' The words explode out of me before I can stop them. I stand up, to face him on
his own level. 'How can you how can you behave like this to another human being? You're sick, feeding
on suffering-'
My vision goes blurry, the room spins around me and I stagger slightly. I manage to keep myself standing,
but only just as everything swings to and fro, and I feel myself swaying as my head swimsA grip on my arm steadies me, pulling me back to my centre. I lean on that grip as my head clears and I pull
myself together.
'You shouldn't over-excite yourself.'
I look up at his words to see that he's sneering at me. 'You shouldn't provoke me,' I reply, practically spitting
the words at him.
His lip curls up in contempt, and he drops his eyes, allowing them to travel up and down my body in disgust.
It's then that I remember that I'm naked.
I slide out of his grip and down to the floor, huddling in on myself and hugging my knees to my chest. My
heart thuds with pure humiliation.
He looks down at me, a muscle going in his jaw, and for a few moments I wonder whether he's going to start
shouting at me.
But then he laughs a low, cruel chuckle of mocking.
'I don't know why you're bothering to hide yourself away. Do you really think I'm interested in your body?'
Although I try to stop it, I feel a hot blush of humiliation flood across my face.
'I'm sorry to disappoint you, Miss Granger,' he says with a small disgusted sneer. 'But I'm afraid you're out of
luck. I don't touch Mudbloods.'
I'm out of luck?
'You arrogant-'
'Please!' He holds up his hand. 'Let's not be vulgar.'
He throws the red bundle of cloth he's holding at my feet.
'I'd be most grateful if you'd put those on.'
I pick up the bundle and shake it out. It's a robe made of heavy, blood-red wool.
'Where are my own clothes?'
I don't know why I'm asking. Those clothes I was wearing were filthy. These robes are clean, at least.
But those clothes were mine.
'Muggle clothing is not welcome here.' His lip curls up ever so slightly. 'You will wear something a little
more suitable from now on.'
76

'Oh, of course,' I mutter. 'Because my own clothes are a little too informal for a dungeon.'
A muscle goes slightly in his jaw, betraying a genuine flash of emotion. It's either a flicker of a smile or a
spark of anger.
I wish I could read him. I wish I could have even the smallest hint of what he's thinking.
'Don't be insolent,' he says quietly. 'You know how I dislike it.'
Anger, then. That must have been what it was.
We look at each other for a few moments in silence. His eyes delve into mine, and I try to keep my mind
clear. If he can do Legimilency then I'm not going to give him the satisfaction of reading my thoughts. Not
without a struggle.
I don't know what he's looking for, anyway. But that intense, searching look in his eyes makes me think that
he's probing my mind for something.
I wish I knew what.
'Aren't you going to get dressed?' he asks eventually. 'I assume you don't wish to expose your body for any
longer than you have to.'
I swallow down the scream of rage that threatens to burst out of me, and I school my voice into one as calm
and collected as his own.
'I'll be more than happy to get dressed if you'll just give me some privacy.'
So I'm expecting compassion from him now? I really must be stupid.
He sneers at my request, as I expect him to. 'I don't think so.'
I really should have known better.
'Why not?'
He tilts his chin up haughtily.
'I don't see what gives a Mudblood the right to tell me what to do.'
I almost scream in sheer frustration. I'm so sick of these twisted power games I have to play with him! It
always goes the same way - my refusal, the pain, the enforced compliance, a brief respite
And then yet more pain.
I'm too tired to go through that all over again. Not when I don't have to.
I pull the robes over my head, down onto my body. They're very heavy, and they stick to my sweating skin,
clinging to me, scratching me.
But at least I'm dressed again. I have some control back, and some dignity. For that, at least, I am grateful.
Lucius nods coldly at me.
'That wasn't so hard, was it?'
77

I stand up, finally able to face him without embarrassment again. Yes. I am his equal, and he won't convince
me otherwise.
'Aren't you going to give me any shoes?' I ask.
His sneers at my request. 'I really don't think that you should be pushing for more kindness than you
deserve.'
Kindness?
He clicks his fingers at me like I'm one of his dogs.
'Come along,' he says briskly. 'The Dark Lord will be back soon, and we don't want to keep him waiting.'
'Oh no, we wouldn't want to upset Voldemort, would we?'
Why did I say that? It's only going to piss him off, why did I say it?
His face sets hard in anger. 'You dare to say the Dark Lord's name?'
'Why shouldn't I?' I ask, suddenly not caring about angering him. Words just fly out of my mouth, heedless
of the consequences they will have. 'It's just a name. It's not my fault you're such a coward that you can't
bring yourself to say it.'
He looks really angry now. That's one way I can read him - I can tell when he's angry. It's the only time his
eyes show any warmth.
Too late I realise that I've gone too far. Again.
'Coward,' he murmurs, not taking his eyes off of mine. 'You do like to think of me in that way, don't you?
Why? Does it make you feel better about yourself? Is it a boost to your already inflated ego to think me as
much of a coward as yourself, after you've betrayed your friends at the drop of a hat?'
'No,' I answer, feeling my face bloom. 'I gave my friends away because I had no choice. At least I tried to
keep hold of some measure of honour. But you what honour or bravery is there in torturing someone who
is utterly at your mercy? What bravery is there in doing your dirty work here in the dark, against those who
have no way to fight you, rather than face to face with an equal in the outside world?'
He looks at me intently.
'You speak of what you don't understand.' His voice pulls goose bumps up on my arms. 'Tell me, have you
ever forced someone to serve you against their will? Have you ever caused a person so much pain that they
beg you to allow them to die? Have you ever killed another?'
'Of course I haven't-'
'Exactly,' he says with satisfaction. 'You speak of bravery and of cowardice, but you will never know what
real courage is. To fight against those who attack you, as you do that is not bravery. Any wild animal
would do the same thing it is basic human instinct, nothing more.'
'It is not,' I stammer. 'I could just do whatever you want me to do that would certainly be easier for me. But
I won't, because there's no principle in that route.'

78

'So you allow yourself to get hurt before you betray your friends. You allow yourself to be forced into
betrayal.' His face arches into a sneer. 'That is not real bravery, because it is forced bravery. And the outcome
remains the same, either way.'
'So what's 'real bravery' then?' I throw the words like knives into his smug, self-satisfied face. 'To kill
innocent, defenceless people? To force people to do the evil things you don't have the guts to do yourself? To
torture a teenager, just because they're a Mudblood?'
He looks at me long and hard. 'No. 'Real bravery' means to put yourself out there; to push for your ideals, no
matter what the cost. I have to commit acts that society sees as distasteful, evil perhaps, in order to serve my
cause. To risk cutting yourself off from the entire world, to forget the principles of 'good' and 'evil' so that
your purpose may be served; that takes real courage.'
For a short while I can't speak. Words turn themselves over in my mind, but I can't find any that will voice
my thoughts adequately.
Eventually, I find my voice again.
'You don't have to do it like that. There are other ways-'
'Oh really?' he interrupts me. 'Other ways of stamping out vermin such as yourself? No, I'm afraid there
aren't. For some reason, people equate it to murder in this day and age.'
'Of course they do! We aren't vermin! We're human beings, just like you are!'
'If you say so, Mudblood,' he says, his eyebrows rising.
'What you do isn't bravery. If you weren't such a coward, you would refuse your master. You would refuse to
commit such atrocities in his name.'
'Why should I refuse him?' he asks. 'You seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that what I do
presents me with some kind of moral dilemma. Well I should tell you, Miss Granger, that I don't have any
problem with it whatsoever. Whatever I have to do, I do for the cause, and for that I am prepared to go as far
as I possibly can, no matter what the price.'
'But why?' I ask in sheer desperation.
'Because the end justifies the means!' he replies, his voice rising in exasperation.
I find myself unaccountably remembering the night I was captured.
'You've said that to me before.' I look at him very closely, wanting to see him react in some way. 'I wonder do you really believe it?'
'I don't have time for this!' he snaps suddenly.
Perhaps things are getting a little too personal for him.
He grabs me savagely by the arm before dragging me violently out of the room. I allow him to drag me
down the corridor, too tired and too ill and too confused to put up any sort of a fight.

79

We arrive outside of the huge stone door to the great hall, the skin on my arm burning where he grips me. We
haven't spoken to each other since we left my cell, but the little speech he made in my room fills my mind,
clogging up my brain.
No matter how hard I try, I can't bring myself to understand him.
Perhaps you should try a little harder.
Why should I? Why should I try to understand reasoning like that?
I can't.
Or you won't?
The sound of raised voices filters out from behind the stone door.
Is Voldemort back already?
Let it have gone wrong. Please, let them have failed. Let everyone be alright
I look up at Lucius, who frowns slightly before pushing the door open and pulling me into the room with
him.
The hall is filled with people in black robes. Almost all of them looking as if they've been in a fight. The air
buzzes and burns as they all argue with each other, shouting and screaming at one another in rage and
confusion.
Something must have gone wrong!
The only one of them not talking is Voldemort, who stands in the middle of the room, his pale, horrible face
twisted in an inhuman rage.
I involuntarily flinch at the sight of him, my body jolting with fright. Lucius looks down at me for a second,
as if he felt me do it.
How does he feel when he sees his master? Do you grow used to that face with time, or do you become so
accustomed that you learn to swallow down your fear?
Voldemort brings his spindly hands up to grip at his temples, before throwing his head back and screaming
into the room.
'SILENCE!'
That scream knocks all of my breath out of me.
All of the Death-Eaters shut up instantly. My heart beats so hard I can feel it in my ears.
Voldemort lets the silence spiral horribly through the room.
How can they revolve their lives around the mood of this one man?
You have to do the same now. You have no choice but to do so.

80

'You stupid, useless people!' he shouts, looking around at his servants, who all seem to recoil slightly from
him. 'Is it not enough that you have failed me, without proceeding to insult me by blaming each other? How
dare you conduct yourselves like this in my presence?'
The sudden rush of hope makes me go dizzy. Something must have gone wrong! Why else would they all be
acting like this?
Voldemort looks over at us. 'Well don't just stand there!' he hisses at Lucius. 'Bring her here!'
Lucius grabs me under the arm, almost lifting me off my feet as he drags me towards Voldemort.
'My Lord?' Lucius asks as we reach Voldemort. 'Did everything go to plan?'
'No, it did not,' Voldemort answers shortly. 'We managed to get ourselves into the Weasleys' home, surely
enough. But Potter was not there, as you told me he would be.'
He wasn't there?
Lucius sucks in his breath next to me, but I hardly hear him.
Harry's safe! He's safe!
But what about the others? What about the people who were there? I won't let myself hope, not until I know
that everyone's alright.
'My Lord, I had no idea that the information I provided you with was faulty,' Lucius says swiftly, his voice
shaking slightly. 'The girl assured me that what she told me was true, and the quill did not contradict her-'
'I do not have time for excuses.' Voldemort raises a hand. 'I do not blame you, but I would ask you to see to it
that the girl is punished for this.'
Oh, for god's sake, why? I've no idea why he wasn't there!
It doesn't matter. Just be grateful that it turned out that you weren't telling the truth, after all.
'We forced our way into the house, but they must have seen us coming.'
They?
Oh, god. Oh no
Voldemort turns away from us, and walks around the hall as he speaks. I think that this speech might be
intended not just for Lucius, but for everyone in the room. 'As we got into the house, everyone present was
either Apparating out of there or using the fireplace to escape via the Floo network.'
He pauses for a moment, putting his hand to his forehead for a moment, as if this is a painful memory for
him.
'It took us only a short while to realise that Potter was not there.' Voldemort brings is hand away from his
forehead and looks back at Lucius, who tenses beside me. 'A few Aurors remained to try and hold us off
while the others escaped. I searched around for the girl, the youngest Weasley, thinking that perhaps we
could make the best of a bad job. But I could not find her. She must have escaped before we entered the
building.'
I sigh with relief as quietly as I can.
81

'However,' Voldemort adds, cutting my relief short. 'The trip was not entirely in vain. We managed to capture
someone whom I think will become very useful, if I am right in my assumption.'
NoI can't breathe. Vomit burns the back of my throat.
Who have they caught?
Voldemort turns to a large group of Death-Eaters standing at the back of the hall and clicks his fingers at
them. 'Bring him forward.'
A couple of men break away from behind the crowd of Death-Eaters, dragging a limp body between them. A
body with a blaze of red hair.
Oh no. Oh no no nonono, it can't be!
'Revive him,' Voldemort says coldly.
I watch, forgetting even to breathe, as a Death Eater points his wand at the boy and and
I don't know why I'm bothering to hope. It's him. I'd know him anywhere.
'Innerverate.'
There's a groan, and then his head moves slowly upwards, his eyes drowsily flickering as they begin to focus
on Voldemort.
That's it. No hoping otherwise now.
'Ron!'
At the sound of my voice his face turns to me.
'You!' he breathes incredulously, his eyes wide.
I don't stop to think. I wrench myself from Lucius' grip and I run over to Ron, throwing my arms around his
neck when I reach him. The Death-Eaters holding him let him go, and the pair of us fall to the floor.
'I thought you were dead!' he whispers hoarsely.
I lean back, running my hands over his face. I wipe the trickle of blood away from the corner of his mouth,
and he gasps as my fingertip clumsily catches the deep gash on his cheek.
'Oh god, I'm sorry!' I say hurriedly.
'M'alright,' he mumbles through his tears. 'S'not your fault. They-'
'Shhh. Save your strength.'
I bring his head back to my shoulder, rocking back and forth while holding him to me. The tears run thick
and fast down my face, running into his red hair. He shouldn't be here, he can't be here
But still I thought I'd never see Ron's face again.
82

I sigh and roll my head upwards, gulping, trying to get some control back. My gaze is snagged by Lucius,
who is just watching us.
But it's different to how Voldemort's watching us, somehow. He's got his lip curled up as if what?
I don't know. Quite honestly, I'm starting to think that he might not really know what true emotion is, let
alone understand it.
Voldemort turns to Lucius, who turns away from me, robbing me of the chance to decipher his expression.
I don't know why I bother trying. I'll never be able to understand him.
'It is a touching reunion, is it not?' Voldemort asks mockingly.
Lucius doesn't smile. He just inclines his head slightly.
'As you say, my Lord.'
Voldemort raises his eyebrows slightly. 'Well, whatever you think of it, you cannot deny his importance to
our cause. Now we have not one, but both of Potter's closest friends under our control. The advantage this
gives us is monumental.'
I grip Ron tighter to me. I want to block everything else out. I just want to keep this moment I want to stay
here with Ron, together like this for long enough to forget everything.
'If I may be permitted to ask, how did you manage to get hold of the boy?' Lucius' voice pierces through the
shield I have built around myself.
'It was all too easy,' Voldemort replies. 'He charged at us almost as soon as we entered the house, screaming
like a madman. I assume he wished to avenge his little friend here.'
Lucius breathes a small laugh. It rips me out of my warm cocoon, pulls me screaming back to the surface.
He's worth ten of you, you piece of'I stunned him before he could cause himself any damage,' Voldemort goes on. 'But I had noted his hair
colour and his age, and came to the conclusion that he was probably Ronald Weasley. It was no easy task
getting him out of the house the remaining adults tried to stop us. Two of them, I am pleased to say, died in
the attempt. One red-haired old fool who I assume was the boy's father was severely wounded, but I think he
may live-'
Ron's head jerks upwards. 'If he dies' His breathing is heavy and ragged. 'If he dies, I swear I'll-'
'You'll what?' Lucius cuts across him. 'What will you do, you stupid boy?'
Ron pulls himself out of my grasp and stands up. I get up quickly as he stumbles, propping him up as best as
I can. Voldemort laughs quietly, while Lucius simply sneers.
'SHUT UP!' Ron shouts, gripping on to my arm so hard it feels as if his fingernails are going to pop through
my skin. 'If my dad dies, I'll rip you apart, I swear I will!'
Voldemort stops laughing, but carries on smiling that horrible smile of his. Lucius' face darkens, and I feel a
familiar sense of dread gripping me around the heart.
'You'll speak when spoken to, boy,' Lucius says quietly before lowering his wand at Ron. 'Crucio!'
83

Ron falls to the floor, screaming in pain. He bucks and writhes, bawling, screaming, kicking, and screaming
againI fall to the ground. If I could only hold him do anything to help himBut how can I help him when I know, I know that right now he'd welcome death if only it would take the
pain away?
And nothing can stop it.
Except Lucius.
'Stop it!' I scream at Lucius. 'Stop it! He doesn't deserve this! Please'
But he just looks at me, his mouth curling up into a tiny smile as Ron screams and bucks and writhes in
agony, screaming, my head hurts with his screams.
'WHY?' Useless, pointless words push their way out of my mouth. 'WHAT HAS HE DONE? STOP IT,
STOP IT!'
'Enough!' Voldemort's shout cuts through my screams.
'As you wish, my Lord.' Lucius raises his wand.
Thank god! Thank-you, thank-you.
I reach out to the trembling, whimpering heap that my friend has become, folding my arms around him,
murmuring stupid, trite words of comfort.
'It's alright, it's ok, it'll be alright, I promise you.'
'If anyone is going to administer punishment to the boy for speaking out of turn in front of me it shall be me,
Lucius.' Voldemort's voice is lightly reprimanding.
'I am sorry, my lord. I simply couldn't stand his impudence a minute longer.'
You evil, heartless bastard! Why why why did you do that?
'Hmm.' Voldemort frowns at Lucius before turning back to me and Ron. 'You needn't worry, boy. Your
father's injuries were perfectly survivable. We would not want to dispose of him not while we have his son
in our power. Think of the use we could get out of this situation.'
Ron lifts his head slightly. His whole body is shaking beneath me.
'What do you mean?' he asks weakly.
Voldemort laughs while Lucius rolls his eyes.
I know what Voldemort means. I can guess, anyway. They could blackmail the Weasleys into doing anything
if they've got Ron in their power. Who knows what a parent would do to keep their child alive and safe?
'We do not have Potter,' is all Voldemort says, 'but we can use this pair to considerable advantage. But first
things first.'
He turns to his Death-Eaters. 'Williams?'
84

An old man steps forward tentatively, cringing and breathing shallowly.


'Carrow was taken by some Aurors, was he not?' The way that Voldemort asks this question makes me
certain that he already knows the answer.
'Y-yes, my Lord,' Williams replies in a small, reedy voice.
'You two were meant to be fighting one of the Aurors that tried to stop us from taking the boy, is that
correct?'
'My Lord,' Williams gasps, 'we tried. We really did try, but Carrow was stunned-'
'It was two against one,' Voldemort interrupts him, a terrible finality in his words. 'I have no time for failure.'
He pulls his wand from his robes as he sits down on his throne.
'Goodbye, Williams,' he says quietly.
'NO!' Williams throws himself to the ground, crawling on his knees towards Voldemort. 'No, my Lord! I
have always been loyal! It was not my fault! Please, my Lord, please!'
'Don't embarrass yourself, Williams.' Voldemort leans backwards and points his wand at the old, weeping
man on the floor beneath him. 'Avada Kedavra!'
A scream presses itself into my mouth as the blast of green light hits the old man in the chest. All of the pain,
fear, emotion and life leave his eyes and he falls backwards and lands sprawled on the floor, his glasses
askew on his thin, old face.
He just he
I've never seen a dead person before.
How could he just and so quickly.
Just gone.
'Jesus Christ!' Ron whispers. I look at his ashen, horrified face as he takes in the corpse in front of us, and
my grip on his hand tightens instinctively.
At least I have him with me now.
You shouldn't be thankful for that.
But I can't help it
The Death Eaters wait for what Voldemort does next in a terrified silence. They don't even seem to be able to
move for fear.
How can they live like this?
'We will need to act swiftly.' Voldemort's voice is cold, authoritative, and perfectly calm. 'Price, contact our
spies at the Ministry and tell them what has happened. I need them to get to Carrow before he is questioned
and to Obliviate him, or to kill him if necessary.'
85

One of the Death-Eaters standing in front of Voldemort bows low to his master before turning and leaving
the hall.
Voldemort looks down at me and Ron, who sucks in his breath next to me.
I remember how I felt when I was first confronted with Voldemort. Like I'd never seen anything worse than
that face. It doesn't seem to have quite the same effect on me anymore whether it's because I know what to
expect now, or I don't know.
'Lucius, I believe that you enlisted Bella and Antonin to help you in your work with the Mudblood
yesterday.'
'That I did, my Lord,' Lucius replies swiftly.
'What-' Ron starts to talk, but I grip at his hand, shaking my head slightly at his questioning look.
'In that case, I believe it's probably best that I give the three of you charge over the pair of them,' Voldemort
continues. 'You shall be responsible for the information I want out of them, and any use we will put them to
afterwards. Your first task is to carry on with what you have already started - I want all of the information I
asked for, every little detail. Do I make myself clear?'
'Certainly, my Lord.'
Lucius bows to Voldemort, before clicking at several other Death-Eaters standing behind us and making a
gesture at Ron. I try to keep a grip on Ron's hand as he's dragged from the ground, but we are ripped apart
from each other as they pull him towards the door.
It's like a piece of me has been torn away.
'Don't worry!' I say quickly. 'It's going to be fine.'
The words sound hollow like a badly rehearsed line in a play.
Before he can do more than nod the Death Eaters drag him from the room.
An iron grip on my arm.
I hadn't even noticed him come over.
I look up at Lucius, who meets my gaze with no emotion whatsoever before dragging me out of the room
and back to my cell.
6. Persuasion
'What hands are here? Ha! They pluck out mine eyes. Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean
from my hand?' - William Shakespeare, Macbeth

My brain pounds inside my skull. The pain of it blocks up my ears and throbs behind my eyes. I can barely
see because of this bloody headache that just won't go away.
Where's Ron? Where is he?
86

Nothing can make this headache stop. Not deep breathing, nor rubbing my temples, nor splashing my face
with water whenever I've been taken for a toilet break. Nothing, nothing, nothing.
What are they doing to him?
So now I'm pacing up and down my cell, trying in vain to clear my head.
I only wish I knew how long it's been since I was brought back to my cell. There's no way of telling. No-one
will ever tell me what time it is. I just have to guess.
They really have been a long while this time, though. It feels like I've been here a lifetime.
And all I can think about is what they might be doing to Ron right now.
I curl my fists up into balls, digging my nails in to the soft skin in the middle of my palm.
Maybe they won't hurt him. Perhaps they only reserve torture for Mud for Muggle-borns. Lucius certainly
hinted that was the case. Perhaps they'll take Ron's Pure Blood into account and use Veritaserum instead.
But if they were going to do that, then why did Lucius smile like that as Ron screamed under the cruciatus
curse?
How could he?
He hates Ron. I have no idea why, but he hates him. Probably almost as much as he hates me for being a
Muggle-born, if I judged his expression correctly as he came face-to-face with him.
I ball my hands up so tightly that my fingernails pop through the skin on my palms. Blood, my blood,
collects in the creases of my hands. Warm, sticky blood.
I've brought my friend here. I've led my best, best friend to pain, and misery.
And death.
I can't bear it.
I spin myself around, slamming my fist into the nearest wall. I scrape it along the rough stone, tearing at my
knuckles, peeling the skin away from the bones. I need to hurt to carve up this body, and so carve up the
hateful person it contains.
I stop when I come to the end of the wall, leaning against the cold stone and pressing my forehead onto it.
Sweat rolls down my face, clamping my hair to my skin.
But the pain in my hand doesn't dull the unbearable pounding pain in my head.
A loud click as my cell door unlocks. I whirl around, though I already know who it is.
His appearance, as always, is immaculate. He doesn't have a single hair out of place. His robes are
exquisitely opulent black and emerald green, with fine silver embroidery.
Huh.
He runs his eyes over me with his lip curled up slightly. 'My dear girl, you really should try to take better
care of yourself.' A small smile flickers onto his face. 'You look terrible.'
87

I scowl at him. 'Well you might look terrible too, if you had to live in conditions like these.'
He comes over to me and grips me by the chin, looking down into my face. He turns my head this way and
that, inspecting me like I'm a dirty child.
'Are you ill?' he finally asks, holding my face still. 'You certainly look as if you might be.'
He's standing far too close to me.
'What do you care?' I ask, meeting his eyes with a look like flint.
He looks at me closely, his face devoid of expression. 'I can't afford to have an ill prisoner,' he says
eventually.
'Oh, but you can afford to torture one, can you?' I wrench my face out of his grip, furious at his artificial
compassion. 'How reasonable of you.'
He brings his wand out of his robes, and an electric bolt shoots through me, gone as soon as it arrives. I gasp
slightly; a sharp intake of breath taken through gritted teeth.
'I have told you time and time again not to be insolent,' he says quietly, his lips barely moving. 'Why won't
you learn to do as you're told?'
There are a million answers I could give to that question, but I don't say anything. I want to, but I don't. The
freshness of that shot of pain keeps my mouth shut.
We just stare long and hard at each-other, and as I look into those cold, grey eyes, I wonder what they
contain in their depths.
He can read my thoughts. It's not fair that I can't read his too.
'Where's Ron? What have you done to him?'
A tiny smile curves his lips, but it doesn't manage to reach his eyes. 'Ah yes, young Mr Weasley. If I might
say so, you seem rather taken with the boy.'
My face boils as I try to keep my mind blank. I'm not going to give him anything through Legimilency.
'I have to confess, I felt quite nauseous at the sight of your reunion.' His mouth twists into a smirk. 'Your
basic intelligence, I would have thought, would prevent you from simpering like a love-struck adolescent
when your very life hangs in the balance.'
I don't know what he's getting at. I don't know whether I want to know what he's getting at. All I know is that
this conversation is embarrassing me.
'Where. Is. Ron?' I exaggerate every syllable, no longer caring if he decides to punish me for my so-called
'insolence'.
He raises his eyebrows slightly, but he doesn't curse me, like I half-expect him to. 'Don't upset yourself. I
assure you, you shall be reunited with your young man soon enough.' He twirls his wand leisurely between
his fingers. 'Even as we speak, he is being brought here to your cell. I have special plans for the boy.'
Panic collapses onto me, and I start to sputter desperately. 'No, please.' I grip onto the front of his robes.
'Don't hurt him. Hurt me if you must, but don't hurt him. He hasn't done anything, he doesn't deserve-'
88

He wrenches his robes violently out of my grip. 'Kindly don't dirty my robes with your filthy hands.'
Genuine disgust creases his features. 'They were clean on this morning.'
I let the insult go. 'Please don't torture him-'
'I'm sorry, but I think it's a little too late for that.' He really does smile now a smile that reaches his eyes.
'We have already been working on him overnight, pumping him for information. I am pleased to say that he
cracked quickly. They all crack.'
I feel sick.
He's still smiling.
'We asked him for everything that you could not provide for us all about Potter's activities since you went
missing, and where he was planning to go in order to rescue you. Not only that, but we asked him to tell us
everything he could about Potter himself all of his hopes, his dreams, his fears, and his secrets. Things that
only a best friend would know.'
I take a short intake of breath at that. How the hell does Lucius Malfoy know that I've always felt a little
isolated from my friends? How does he know how much I envied Harry and Ron for their closeness, and
how I've always known them to be closer to each other than they were to me?
He must have really done his research on me before he brought me here.
God, what else does he know about?
'Oh, young Ronald Weasley has proved himself to be a veritable gold-mine of information,' he continues,
smiling that oh-so-satisfied smile. 'But I believe that we have all that we shall ever need from him the rest I
want to come from you. And I think that today you shall show only a very small amount of resistance to my
will.'
I exhale disbelievingly. 'Really?'
He nods. 'Oh yes, really. You see, it is my belief that to achieve a swift victory, one must have complete
insight into the mindset of one's enemy. And so I have taken great pains to understand your Gryffindor
mentality. And I can see that it can be used to considerable advantage if we have someone you love under
our control.'
'I don't know what you mean,' I say resolutely, trying to ignore this new fear pressing down on me.
He smiles, looking deep into my eyes. I try to keep my mind blank, hating this violation of my own private
thoughts as his mind pushes into mine.
'Oh, I think you do,' he says quietly. 'But if you want me to make it crystal clear for you, I have no
objections. I just feel that you might be insulting your own intelligence by making me spell it out for you.'
He begins to circle me, talking in a low, smug monologue.
'You like to hold out for as long as you can against the pain inflicted on you. You see it as bravery; you see it
as courage. Stupidity, some might call it. You hold out for as long as you can, until you can take no more and
you have to give in to my desire.'
I shiver.

89

'Your irritating ideology and your insufferable idea of bravery made me consider what might be enough to
push you into enacting some willing obedience. And I started to wonder - how long would you be able to
hold out if someone you loved were suffering in exchange for your silence?'
My heart stops beating for a second as he confirms my fears.
What am I going to do?
He comes to a stop in front of me. Almost touching me, but not quite.
'Perhaps then you shall discover that bravery is meaningless. You might finally realise that the entire
ideology you have built your life around is a lie.' He reaches out and runs a thumb down my cheek. 'Or
perhaps you can prove me wrong. If you are truly brave, then you will be able to watch your friend suffer for
your ridiculous notion of 'what's right'. It's a fascinating predicament for you, isn't it? I confess, I shall be
most interested to see how it will play out.'
As his thumb rests on my chin I feel my mouth start to work, coming out with words that I know I shouldn't
be saying.
'You say that you understand me,' I say quietly. 'Well, I wish I could say the same about you. I wish I could
comprehend how you could do something like this. How would you feel if someone tortured your wife in
front of you to get you to give information that you wanted to protect with your life? What would you do if
someone were to torture Draco to get to you?'
A short, sharp slap.
I gasp. I wasn't expecting that.
His features are harsh now. 'Do not speak of my wife.' His voice is quietly threatening, warning me not to
push it any further. 'Nor of my son. They do not concern you-'
'Oh no, I mustn't mention your family. That would make everything too personal, wouldn't it?'
'And what do you mean by that?' His voice is run through with ice.
I don't know why, but I want to push it further. I want him to realise that I know him for what he is.
'Whenever things get a little personal, you automatically get violent with me before it can go any further.
Whenever I mention your family, or when I say your name, or when I try to get through to any trace of
humanity you might have, you cut things off before I can delve any deeper.'
'Really?' he asks, his face giving nothing away. 'Well, seeing as you seem so determined to psycho-analyse
me, perhaps you might like to tell me more.'
He's goading me. He's luring me into going further.
Well, if it's an excuse he wants, then it's an excuse he'll get.
'If you establish a personal bond with somebody, you won't be able to do your duty properly because you'll
be emotionally involved. That's why you always look distant when you torture me - it's not because you're an
emotionless monster.'
He smirks at that. 'And how do you know that I'm not an 'emotionless monster'? You don't even know me-'
90

'I'm starting to,' I fire back. 'And I know that you're a human being just like I am, although you might not act
like it. And so I've come to the only conclusion left that you look distant when you torture me because
you're determined that you won't become emotionally involved.'
'Is that so?' He almost looks amused. Almost. 'Pray, continue.'
I take a deep breath to steel my nerves. 'You might as well give up on that idea, because you've got a bond
with me now, whether you like it or not. You might lash out at me, and curse me without cause, but those
aren't the actions of an indifferent person.'
He's really struggling to keep calm now. I can see his face almost pulsing with anger as he battles to keep it
calm and expressionless.
How far will he go to prove me wrong on this matter?
'But what I want to know is: why do you hate me?' I'm deliberately provoking him now, pushing him and
pushing him, digging deeper. 'I haven't ever done anything to you. We'd barely spoken to each other before I
came here. Alright, so I don't get on with your son, but apart from that you have no reason to dislike me. I
was at the Ministry that night last year, but if you'd bothered asking me you'd know that I didn't actually
want to be there, and you can't deny it wasn't my fault you were captured.'
'I don't care about you being at the Ministry,' he snaps, his temper finally beginning to conquer him. 'You
were unconscious for most of the battle if I'm completely honest, I barely noticed your presence. And I
certainly don't care about your petty arguments with my son. Schoolyard fights are far beneath my concern.'
'Then why?' I know the answer already, of course I do, but I want to push this as far as I can, as hard as I can.
'Why do you hate me?'
'I have told you, time and time again! How many more times do I have to tell you?' His face is pale with
rage. 'You shouldn't be in our world. You and your kind are nothing more than throwbacks, and yet you
move into my world, polluting it, taking it over and making it your own.'
Now I really am curious. 'Is that what it is?' I ask quietly. 'Is that what it all boils down to - fear?'
His eyes narrow at me. 'What?'
'You heard me,' I snap at him. 'Does all of your hate, all of your prejudice just boil down to a fear of losing
your position in society? Are you just worried that the Muggle-borns will take it away from you?'
'Why on Earth would that be my reason for hating you?' His voice is raised, and his face has lost all its
colour. 'How could I be worried about the possibility of you taking my position away from me? Look at
yourself! A plain, untrained, teenage Mudblood, with no money, no connections worth knowing, with only a
bit of basic intelligence to brag of. How could you possibly take anything away from me? Do you know just
how much I am worth? Are you aware of the power I yield in the circles I mix in?'
'You're right,' I carry on, trying to ignore the fact that my head is pounding so badly that I feel like I'm going
to faint. 'I could never take your position away from you, because you haven't had to work for what you
have. Normal people have to work hard for money, and privilege, and position. But all you ever had to do
was take the trouble to be born.'
The look of absolute and pure loathing on his face actually terrifies me, and I shut myself up before I can go
any further.
'Would that you never had been,' he says, without moving his lips.
91

He flicks his wand at me, and nails. Nails, that's what it is, scraping down, down my face, arms,
chestlegsknees, go, got to stop, make it stop, claws scratch, claw at my face, make it stopstopplease
knives driven in my stomach, twisting, rub frantically at my arms, oh oh ohohohohohIt disappears.
I open my eyes, dropping my arms so that I can look at them
They're covered with strips of red. Strips left not by the curse, I'm sure of it, but by my own fingernails
I shudder involuntarily.
'When will you ever learn your place?' I look up to him to see his face so full of loathing it almost makes me
wince. 'You arrogant, pathetic little girl, when will you ever learn?'
The door bangs open.
My heart throbs in my throat as Dolohov and Bellatrix drag Ron into the room. He's conscious this time,
though his face is so white it's almost green, and he's grimacing in pain.
'You two took your time.' Lucius doesn't bother to disguise the irritation in his voice.
'Well, he did insist upon putting up a fight,' Bellatrix says as she and Dolohov throw Ron to the ground. He
falls on his side, grunting in pain. Bellatrix throws him a contemptuous sneer as she goes to lock the cell
door. 'It took us some time to subdue him.'
Ron gasps weakly, gripping his stomach and grimacing with pain. My heart splits itself in two.
'What have you doneto him?' I take rapid steps towards Ron. 'You bastards, what have you done?'
An invisible pair of hooks wrench me up from under my arms and I'm thrown back, back, and shitfuckow I'm
slammed into the wall. My whole body screams out in pain and fireworks burst behind my eyelidsBut I don't fall forwards. I stay where I am, some invisible bond pinning me to the wall.
'You will stay there, Mudblood,' Lucius mutters quietly as Bellatrix laughs at me from the other side of the
room. 'I am heartily sick of your revolting displays of affection for the boy. You are here for one thing, and
one thing only, is that clear?'
Tears flip out of my eyes at the cruelty of it. 'Please-'
'No.' He cuts my plea in half, killing it dead. 'I have decided that you shall not offer your friend any comfort,
or any help. We wouldn't want to make the situation too personal, would we?
For a moment hatred takes hold of me so violently that I can't speak. I just shake against the wall as I stare
long and hard into that cold, smug, evil face.
I've never hated anyone as much as I hate Lucius Malfoy right now.
'So, what's first up today?' Dolohov asks, eagerness lighting up his twisted face as he sets up the levitating
quill and parchment in the corner of the room. He brushes his greasy hair back, and I can't help but notice the
vivid bruise that circles his left eye.
Ron must have put up a better fight than I did.
92

'First, I want you to give the boy this potion.' Lucius pulls a small, black bottle out of his robes. Dolohov
holds his hands out eagerly, but Lucius passes him over and hand the potion to Bellatrix, who looks at it
curiously while Dolohov's face falls with disappointment almost comically.
I'd laugh if the situation wasn't so awful.
'What is it?' Bellatrix asks, taking the bottle with an almost hungry look in her eye.
'I brewed it up last night. It's an ingenious little potion, although I say so myself. For as long as it holds
effect, he will still be able to speak, to scream, but he will be unable to answer any questions that are not
aimed directly at him.'
Oh my god.
Dolohov starts to grin horribly. 'So you want her to answer our questions, not him?'
Lucius inclines his head. 'That is my intention, yes.'
Bellatrix lets out a high-pitched little giggle. 'Oh that's almost too cruel, Lucius,' she croons, her voice
brimming with glee.
I stare at Lucius' face as it smiles at me mockingly, and I want nothing more than to tear it to pieces, to rip it
to shreds. I can't believe any of it. I don't know how anyone could be so completely and utterly foul!
'Help me, Antonin,' Bellatrix says as she rolls up her sleeves and pulls the stopper out of the bottle. A small
wisp of smoke escapes from the rim as the stopper leaves it with a hollow pop.
Dolohov roughly pulls Ron up onto his knees, wrenching his head back. Ron begins to struggle wildly,
pushing and pulling against Dolohov's grip.
'Get the fuck off me, you sick b-'
Bellatrix shoots a jet-black shot of light at his stomach as he speaks and he doubles over, howling in pain. I
struggle with all my might against my invisible bonds, but I just can't shift them.
Lucius is smirking at me.
Bellatrix moves to stand over Ron as Dolohov tries to wrench his mouth open. Ron turns to me, shouting
wildly.
'Don't, Hermione-'
Dolohov rips his jaw open and Bellatrix holds the neck of the bottle over his open mouth. Thick, glooping,
dark green liquid falls out of the bottle and into his open mouth, dribbling down his throat.
'That's right, baby, take your medicine,' Bellatrix whines.
Ron gags and chokes. The sickening sound wrenches through me as the liquid spills out over his chin and
streams out through his nose.
'Stop it!' I scream. 'Leave him alone! He's going to choke!'
'Now now,' Lucius drawls. 'He's a brave boy, I'm sure he can take it.'
93

Ron collapses forward, heaving and coughing, drawing huge rasping breaths as the horrible stuff runs down
his chin.
I'm so sorry, Ron, I'm so sorry'Are you ready to answer our questions, Miss Granger?'
I don't answer Lucius. I just look at Ron as he lies on the floor, gradually getting his breath back and wiping
the foul liquid away from his chin.
An invisible grip wrenches my head up to face the cold, pale face of the man I hate more than anything else
in the world.
'I want you to tell me to tell us exactly where Potter was planning on going when you last saw him.'
Oh, why? Why does it have to be this? Why can't it be anything else?
'Don't tell them, Hermione!' Ron shouts. 'Don't tell them anything, do you hear?'
Lucius smirks. 'No need to shout, Weasley.'
'Shut it, Malfoy!' Ron bellows at him, staggering slightly as he tries to pull himself to his feet.
'How dare you speak to him like that?' Bellatrix raises her wand furiously. 'You disgusting little blood-traitor,
how dare you? Crucio!'
And then there are screams. Horrible, awful screams flying round the room, burning my ears as Ron heaves
and writhes on the ground.
'STOP IT!' I scream. 'PLEASE, STOP IT!'
'Enough, Bella.'
At Lucius' command Bellatrix raises her wand and Ron collapses on the ground, whimpering slightly, and I
can't move to help him, I can't.
Lucius is watching me. 'Tell us what we want to know.'
I try not to panic. I take a deep breath. I can't lose my head. I've got to be logical.
Okay. So if I refuse to tell them, they'll torture Ron again. And I can't let that happen, I just can't.
But if I tell them where Harry was planning on going, they may be able to find him, and if they find him
they'll kill him, there's no doubt about that. And then not only will I have sent my best friend to his death, but
the war will be lost. Harry's the chosen one, isn't he?
I look down at Ron, who's pulling himself shakily up to his feet.
'Don't do it Hermione,' he says quietly. 'Whatever they do to me I can put up with it, just don't give Harry
away-'
His words are cut off as Dolohov grabs him by the front of his robes and punches him in the jaw. 'We didn't
ask you to speak, you puny little bastard!'
'Put him down.'
94

Dolohov obeys Lucius' command and throws Ron to the floor. I look down at my friend, who shakes his
head at me silently.
As if it will make any of it any easier.
'Think about it, Miss Granger.' Lucius is walking over to me, slowly. 'Just think it through. Surely young
Ronald has suffered enough already.' He reaches me, leaning in to whisper in my ear. 'If you answer my
question, then we shall spare him any more agony.'
'Just leave her alone!' Ron starts to shout, but he's cut short when Dolohov's booted foot lands in his
stomach. Tears fall out of my eyes as I frantically try to work out what to do.
Ron or Harry?
That's the choice I have been presented with. I have to choose between my two best friends.
'Do you want to see him in pain?' Lucius whispers in my ear like a demon on my shoulder. 'Because he will
suffer; oh he will suffer greatly if you refuse us.'
I open my eyes. Ron is lying on the ground, rubbing at his stomach and breathing heavily.
This is so difficult. The most difficult thing I've ever had to do.
'Come on, Mudblood!' Bellatrix yells with impatience. Stray sparks fly out of the end of her wand.
Lucius grips me by the chin and wrenches my face up to look at him. 'You fool,' he mutters, so low that I
don't think the others will be able to hear him. 'Don't you see that you have the opportunity to save someone
you love?' He wrenches my head back to face Ron. 'This boy means the world to you, more so than Potter, I
would say. I have seen the truth of that staring back at me from those wide open eyes of yours. You could
save him, and so easily.'
I don't know what to do!
Ron looks at me, his eyes burning with conviction. 'Don't worry about me,' he murmurs. 'I can take it. I can
handle anything these bastards throw at me.'
Lucius finally loses patience. He sighs in exasperation, and walks away from me towards Ron. 'You will
remember that delightful little spell I cast on your hand, Mudblood? The one that burned your skin? The one
that made it bubble with heat?'
My stomach shrivels up with horror. 'No, please, stop-'
He's not listening to me. He turns to Bellatrix. 'Where do you think?'
She grins at her brother in law, practically licking her lips at him. 'Perhaps down his arms might prove
persuasive.'
Lucius smirks at her, and points his wand at Ron's shoulder.
'No.' Bellatrix holds Ron's arm out, turning it slightly and running her finger down the pale skin along the
inner side of it. 'The skin is more sensitive along here.'
Ron stares at her, his expression horrified.
95

'You always know just how things should be done, Bella,' Lucius murmurs, and he runs the back of his finger
over her cheek, from temple to chin. A flush spreads over her cheeks, and she grins back at him before
turning to Dolohov.
'Give me a hand here, will you?' she asks, throwing the command at him carelessly.
'Please! Hurt me if you want me to talk, but don't hurt him, please-'
They're not listening to me.
Bellatrix and Dolohov hold Ron down as they rip his t-shirt from his body. His stomach is covered with
large, horrible bruises, so severe that they're almost black in colour, outlined with purple and red and yellow
like a horrible paint palette.
'Get off of me, you evil-'
Lucius cuts Ron's words off with a slap across the face.
I don't know what to do, what shall I do?
'Please, he hasn't done anything, please!'
Lucius ignores me and presses his wand into the underside of Ron's arm the soft fleshy bit that rubs against
his torso.
'Don't say a word, Hermione!' Ron yells, but then the words are swallowed up by his screams as his skin
burns under the touch of the wand. The sound rocks through me, ripping me apart, wrenching through my
heart, my head, my ears.
I can't let it go on, I can't.
'Stop it stop it! I'll tell you, I'll tell you!'
But they don't stop.
Lucius trails his wand down, bringing it slowly down to Ron's palm, leaving a burning, bubbling, shiny red
trail in its wake. Ron's face contorts with pain and tears roll down his cheeks. I can't stand it. I do all that I
can think of to help him.
I give them what they want God help me, but I tell them what they want to know. I tell them that Harry
was planning to stay at the Burrow for Bill and Fleur's wedding, and that he was then planning to go to
Godric's Hollow to visit his parents' graves.
'And where then?' Bellatrix asks, raising her voice so that she can make her voice heard over Ron's screams.
She holds Ron down as he bucks and writhes in her grip. 'Where does he plan to go afterwards?'
I hesitate then, because I know what's at stake with this question. It's not just Harry's safety, but the safety of
the entire world'I don't know.'
It's true. Technically it's true. I know what he was going to do, but I have absolutely no idea where he would
have to go to destroy the Horcruxes.
96

Lucius pulls his wand away from Ron's skin as Dolohov lets go of Ron to inspect the parchment. 'She's
telling the truth.'
I stop the sigh of relief that threatens to escape from my lips. That quill has one fault, then. It can't detect
when I'm hiding something that I haven't been directly asked for.
Thank God for that.
But I've given Harry away again.
It might be alright. He probably won't go to Godric's Hollow now, and he certainly won't be going back to
the Burrow, will he? It's okay, alright, you're okay, okay'Antonin, get hold of him again,' Lucius says as he moves his wand to Ron's other arm.
'What are you doing?' I ask desperately. 'I've told you where Harry's going! What are you doing?'
He turns to me, smiling slightly. 'What does it look like I'm doing?'
'But I've given you what you want!'
'Yes I know.' He grins. 'It's a purely aesthetic decision. I simply can't bear lack of symmetry.'
He presses his wand to Ron's skin, to the supple, vulnerable skin on the underside of his arm, dragging it
down to a backdrop of screams.
'STOP IT!' I scream. 'WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME? JUST STOP!'
But I'm useless. I can only scream and shout, and I am unable to do anything apart from listen to my best
best best friend's screams fling around the room.
I can't take it. I close my eyes.
But the screams go on, wailing like a banshee, over, and over, over over overoverover
Silence. Then wet, gulping noises.
I open my eyes.
Ron lies on the ground, two great red wells running in tracks down the inside of his arms.
I snap in half.
I look at Lucius, violent, unbearable rage spilling out of my mouth like vomit in screams and shouts.
'Why didn't you stop? What the hell was that for?'
Lucius twirls his wand between his fingers, smiling down at his handiwork with immense satisfaction. He
doesn't give me an answer.
'Will you heal him?' I don't know why I'm asking. I don't know why I'm expecting kindness from him, of all
things. 'You healed me the other day.'
Bellatrix looks at him incredulously. 'What on earth would you heal her for? We're only going to dispose of
her, anyway-'
97

Lucius raises his hand, and she shuts her mouth like a trap, contenting herself with throwing a glance at me
through narrowed eyes. Lucius frowns at her before he replies to me.
'No, I don't think I will. I'm not sure whether I'd be able to forgive myself were I to show compassion to a
Weasley.'
'You BASTARD!' Tears rip up from my gut and burst hot out of my eyes and course down my cheeks.
'You're nothing but a sick, disgusting COWARD! How can you do that to a seventeen year old boy just
because you hate his father? You sick, sick FUCK-'
A huge invisible fist punches me in the face. My head reels sideways with the blow.
But it wasn't Lucius that time.
Bellatrix moves over me, her face white and furious. 'You impertinent little bitch!' She spits at me. It lands in
a warm wet blob on my cheek. 'How dare you talk to your betters like that?'
A jet of orange light shoots out of her wand and hits me in the stomach, and then waves of nausea wash over
me, again and again in rippling tides. I buck and writhe against the bonds that hold me to the wall, and my
body heaves and heaves, and it's coming up from my gut, up my chest, through my throat, and ooooh no, not
again!
Vomit comes up into my mouth, over and over again. It spills out of my lips and streams out of my nose. I
try to breathe through it but the acid falls back into my throat, choking me.
But then my airways clear and my stomach stops heaving as the curse leaves me, and Ron's got his arms
around Bellatrix's neck, pulling her backwards and away from me. 'Don't you fucking hurt her, you bitch-'
It's a losing battle from the outset, though. Dolohov waves his wand at Ron, who flies backwards and slams
into the wall.
'You stupid little bastard!' Dolohov roars. 'You dare to raise your hand to her? You're not worth shit on her
shoe, do you hear me? Crucio!'
Ron screams and yells, falling to the floor again, oh god, how long can it go on for?
'No!' I scream. 'Please stop it, please!'
'That's enough, Antonin.'
Dolohov looks for a moment as if he might refuse Lucius' curt command, but he raises his wand, and Ron
stops screaming and lies curled up on the floor, twitching and shivering.
And I start to sob, then. Huge, aching sobs rack my entire being.
A peal of laughter rings out from the other side of the room. 'Do either of you really think that you have any
control over the situation you are in?' Bellatrix is slightly breathless after her struggle with Ron, but her eyes
are as alight and feverish as they ever were. 'Do you think to overpower us? Do you think to escape us?' She
lets out a shout of laughter again. 'You really must abandon such foolish notions. We will get what we want,
no matter how long it takes you cannot escape that. You may as well accept it - from now on, you will
obey us. You will obey us until we are finished with you, and then we shall dispose of you.'
I want to cry, to scream, to bleed. Anything rather than face up to the truth of her words.
'True words, Bella.' Lucius turns to me. 'You would be wise to take heed of them.'
98

I close my eyes, wanting to block everything out. But they're not finished with us yet.
'Will you tell us about the Order, Miss Granger?'
Lucius' voice snaps my eyes open.
How can I give them what they want again without leading good, innocent people to their deaths?
But how can I hold out against them without causing Ron yet more pain?
I just keep silent as I try to decide what to do. I feel it all crashing down on me, becoming too much to bear.
'Are you going to answer us, Mudblood?' Lucius asks, watching me intently.
I look at Ron, who shakes slightly on the floor, tears squeezing out from under his eyelids. I look from
Lucius, to Bellatrix, to Dolohov, then back to Lucius again.
'How do you people sleep at night?'
Lucius smiles a patronizing smile. 'Quite easily, I think you'll find.'
I open and close my mouth several times like a dumb goldfish, until Lucius eventually loses patience with
me.
'I'm sorry to do this to you, Mudblood,' he says, with no remorse in his voice whatsoever. 'But I'm afraid that
you leave me no choice. I simply don't have the time for hesitation.'
He raises his wand, but not at Ron.
'Imperio!'
Thought gone. Feeling gone. Oh, it's wonderful, wonderful hereLight, and warm. Free of the wall. Oh, that's so lovely of you! You'd do anything for me, wouldn't you?
'And you must return the favour, isn't that right?'
Smile. Nod. Anything for you.
'Then take this knife.'
The knife. Light in my hand not heavy at all. Just keep me like this forever, and I'll do anything and
everything to please you, oh, I promise I willA hand. Unrecognisable. Not my own.
'Cut off the thumb.'
-no'Cut off the thumb.'
A thumb. Whose thumb?
So warm, so comfortable99

'Hermione? Please, Hermione, try and fight it, please-'


Warm hand wipes the intruding voice away.
'Cut off the thumb.'
Yes, oh yes.
Blade in flesh, sinks in, meets resistance, pushes furtherI'll do anything for that voice, anything
Tearing flesh, bubbling blood.
Anything
The warmth seeps away from me, filtered with screams, and pain, and blood.
Not my blood. Not my pain.
Not my screams.
Oh oh god shit shitshitshit!
Ron is screaming. And cradling his hand. His bloody, bloody handI look down at myself.
Blood. Blood everywhere, sticky and dark on my hands, and on the floor.
Oh my god! Ohmygodohmygodohmygod!
A thumb, his thumb, lying on the floor, surrounded by blood, severed off.
Oh my god!
More screams. My screams, his screams. Too much noise and blood, oh sweet god, this is hell.
We are in hell. Lucius has dragged us there.
I tell them everything. I scream it at them. I tell them everything, and anything. I tell them everything I know
about the Order, about members of the Order, about what I saw of their activities. I give them names,
addresses, personality traits of the members I know of, and names of any possible friends, family members
and even casual acquaintances those members might have. I tell them everything, everything and anything to
stop Ron's pain.
After a time, when I literally can't think of anything else to tell them, Lucius holds up his hand to me.
'That will do.'
I gulp for breath, wiping my wet lips.
Dolohov runs his eyes over the parchment. 'She's told the truth.'
Lucius gives a small, chilly smile. 'Good. We can move on, then.'
100

'No, wait!' I crawl over to Lucius, forgetting my pride which never, ever mattered anyway. 'Please, seal his
thumb back on. I know that it can be done, if you don't leave it too long. I'll do anything, please-'
'Anything, you say?' Dolohov asks from behind me, laughing. But Lucius cuts him short.
'Please, Antonin, don't lower the tone.' He looks down at me as I feel tears burn my eyes. Looks at me for far
too long.
Eventually he moves away from me and over to Ron, who cowers and moans and cries on the ground.
'Pick up his thumb and hold it on to the join.'
He's talking to me. It takes me a second to realise that.
But oh, I can't touch it
I gag, swallowing down vomit as I pick up the cold, fleshy, inanimate object that is Ron's thumb and I hold it
to the severed hole on his hand, talking to myself all the while, don't take notice of the blood, really no need
to look at the ragged edges of fleshI shudder, moaning along with Ron. Lucius flicks his eyes up towards me and points his wand at the join. A
warm, golden light spears out to it, fixing the skin back together, sealing it seamlessly.
Ron is suddenly quiet, looking at his thumb incredulously as the tears dry on his face.
I lean forward and kiss his cheek, holding his face fiercely in my bloodied hands.
'I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to, I didn't know-'
He looks at me, and grips me tightly by the hand, nodding at me with his eyes blank in his face. He says
nothing.
Does he know? Does he really know that I didn't know what I was doing, and that I'll never, ever forgive
myself for this?
I'm so sorry.
I hear Lucius' light laughter. 'I hope you're proud of your young man, Mudblood,' he sneers. 'I hope that
you're pleased with the snivelling little wretch that can't even endure five minutes of pain without bawling
like a baby. You should be well matched, the pair of you.'
Ron's head snaps up as he shakes with anger next to me.
'I'd like to see you last five minutes under what we've both been through, you piece of shit!'
Bellatrix lunges towards him, but Lucius holds his hand out to stop her without looking away from us. And
he's smirking.
'I've been through just as much as you have, if not more,' he says quietly, and he's still smirking even though
I think I can see the ghost of a shadow crossing over his eyes. 'Oh yes, contrary to popular opinion we don't
treat our prisoners any worse than how your side treat the prisoners in Azkaban.'
No. He he's lying. The Aurors wouldn't the Order wouldn't let it happen.
101

His smirk grows wider as he judges my reaction. 'You don't believe me, do you, Mudblood? Well, let me tell
you, you have absolutely no idea what the new guards of Azkaban do to their prisoners in their spare time.
They had to do something to make their prisoners feel as hopeless as the Dementors made them feel.'
'You're lying,' I whisper.
'I'm afraid he's not.' Dolohov steps forward. 'I was there too, thanks to you two and your little friends. I saw
it all. Believe me, what we're putting you through is a picnic compared to what they did to me during my
first night in prison.'
But but they wouldn't would they?
Ron recovers before I do. 'Even so, that's no sodding excuse!' he blazes. 'What have we ever done to you to
deserve this?'
'Do you even need to ask that question?' Bellatrix asks. 'Look at yourselves; a Mudblood and a Blood-traitor.
Do we even need an 'excuse', as you call it?'
'Even if they did treat you as badly as you've treated us,' Ron says shakily, ignoring Bellatrix's question, 'you
people deserve it, all of it, for everything you've done. You fucking deserved all of it!'
Lucius turns to Dolohov. 'After you, Antonin.'
Dolohov advances on Ron, his wand raised and a horribly hungry expression on his face. 'You're in trouble
now, boy.'

It's over.
It's been hours, but it's over.
Lucius locks the door after Bellatrix and Dolohov drag Ron out of the room, then he turns to me with a small
smile.
'Well, this evening has certainly proved illuminating, wouldn't you agree? We have every last little bit of
information we wanted from you. It has taken some time, I grant you, but it is over now. I have what I
wanted.'
I sit still, perfectly still on the floor. Still as stone, while the stench of blood fills my nostrils and spreads
along my tongue.
Blood. Ron's blood is still on my hands.
The blood stains my skin like the memories stain my mindPlease stop, pleaseplease stop Tell us about Dumbledore, Mudblood Don't hurt him, I beg you Then
tell us about Nymphadora Tonks No, wait, you promised you wouldn't hurt him I lied, Miss Granger
I rub my hand together, smearing the blood over my palms. It won't come off. It'll never come off.
How many people have I sent to their death this evening? How many people have I betrayed?
'Tell me, my brave little Mudblood, did you learn something about courage this evening?'
102

I've never felt so angry in my entire life. It bubbles and steams like a spring deep inside of me. It's going to
consume me. I shake as I get to my feet, clenching my jaw as my head pounds so hard it's going to burst.
'Fuck you.' The two tight little words barely escape my throat.
He smiles all the wider, feeding off of my rage and my pain. He moves closer to me, backing me into the
wall. 'I don't want to be too optimistic, but it seems to me that you might have finally learned the virtue of
obedience. You seemed most eager to do as you're told today. It seems that even you have a price, even for
what you hoped you would never have to sell.'
I can't bear it. I want to smash up every inch of his pale, smug face. I want to cut him deep, to make him
bleed, to make him scream
To make him feel just as bad as I do.
He's close to me now, making the hairs on my skin stand up on end, pushing hate hate hate up through my
body.
'I can scarcely believe how one could do such a thing.' His smile is going to split his face in half, I know it.
'To your own best friend; the boy you love, no less. It would have broken your heart, I am sure, should you
have seen the look of betrayal on his face as you smiled and plunged the knife into his hand.'
Anger explodes within me, shatters me into a million pieces.
'You you sick, twisted you, you'
I can barely get my words out.
He chuckles.
That's it. His laughter snaps me in half. My hand flies and I slap him hard across the face.
A bloodied handprint appears on his white cheek, red against the pink bloom my slap has caused.
I don't care I slap him again, and again. Then I slam my fists into his chest. I hit him and hit him with
balled up fists, screaming with rage and pain and frustration and complete and utter hatred.
He grabs my wrists, wrenching me away from him. Rage has whitened his face, making Ron's blood and my
handprints stand out all the more. He brings back his own hand, and he slaps me across the face, once, twice,
three times, much harder than I hit him. My head snaps back with each blow until eventually I fall
backwards onto the floor, tears and moans and words of pain escaping me.
'You made me do it! You made me I didn't want to! Do you know what I'd do to take it back?'
He wrenches my head back by my hair, burning my scalp with his grip. 'How dare you?' he whispers. 'You
dare to raise a hand to me?'
'WHY NOT?' I scream. 'You've hurt me, god knows! Why can't I hurt you back?'
He raises his wand to my face, snarling with fury. I pull my face back, squinting in preparation for what he's
about to do.
But nothing happens. He just breathes a tiny, mirthless laugh, running his wand down my cheek. 'Oh, look at
you!' he murmurs. 'So weak.'
103

'I'm not weak-'


'Oh no?' he asks. 'Look at how quickly you have given me everything I want. Just a little pain, a little
suffering, and you sing like a bird, a little baby bird. You can't even resist the Imperius curse. What kind of
strength is that? God only knows why you were put into Gryffindor the house of the brave, isn't it?'
Those words they strike a chord deep inside of me, because really well, I shouldn't be in Gryffindor. I
was only put in there because I wanted to be there. The Sorting Hat itself said so.
I think you're definitely a Ravenclaw. Such a brain such logic! No? You want to be in Gryffindor? Well,
only if you're sure
He's looking deep into my eyes, and I try to shut down my thoughts. I won't let him see that, I won't let him
know
Too late. He smiles again, and for a moment my head pounds so badly that his face blurs in front of me,
becoming a smear of pink, yellow, black and red, red, red'Is that true?' His voice brings me back from wherever I've gone, and my sight clears to see his grinning face.
'Ravenclaw? No wonder you're so weak. All that house knows is thought and logic.'
'I'm a Gryffindor!' I say. 'The hat put me in there; it wouldn't have done if that isn't where I belong-'
'But it would, Mudblood. You know that. It would, because of the absurd notion that it is our choices that
make us what we are. Well, you'd best abandon that ridiculous idea. There are some things you just can't
change.'
'That's not true!' The words ring hollow. I don't really believe them any more.
He looks at me intently for a while, the anger having left his face. 'Do you genuinely believe that? Draco told
me all about your ridiculous crusade for Elf rights. Oh, we did laugh about that little story. Do you think to
change the world for the better, little Mudblood?'
I don't answer him. He knows too much about me already. It's like he wants to know everything about me
he wants to explore my stomach, guts, and soul.
I won't expose my insides to him.
'Are we really so different, you and I?' he asks, his voice quiet and still. 'We both want to change the world. I
want to rid the magical world of Muggles, and I go to extreme lengths to achieve what I want. You you
want Wizarding society to free the elves. You think, perhaps, to make the world a better place by doing so.
What measures did you go to in order to achieve your goal?'
He delves into my mind again. I can feel him rooting around, an invisible hand creeping around my brain.
Oh, I don't care. What does it matter what he finds out, anyway? Nothing matters, not after what I did to Ron
today
'Well, I never thought I would see such cruelty from you, of all people!' His entire face lights up with
laughter. 'What a hypocrite you are, lecturing me on brutality! Leaving house elves clothes.' He tuts at me
disapprovingly. 'House elves don't want freedom. You knew that. And yet you attempted to force it upon
them.'
'But they need freedom!' I say desperately. 'They're brainwashed into thinking that they don't by tyrants like
you! Every creature has the right to be free they'll realise that in the end.'
104

But I'm talking to myself. He isn't listening to me. His eyes rest intently on my face, and he frowns slightly.
'We aren't so different, after all. Both of us are prepared to resort to cruelty to achieve our ends. The only
difference is that I, at least, am prepared to admit it.'
That's it for me, I'm afraid. Tears burst from my eyes as I finally give way under the agony of it all.
'I'm not like you! I'm not!'
My words come out in wails as sobs rock through me. I hate myself for it, and I try to stop, but I just can't.
'No, you're right.' He lets go of me and throws me to the floor. 'We're not alike at all. I would never
embarrass myself like you have in front of your enemies. It's a shame, really. I might almost have respect for
you if it were not for your damned weakness.'
He turns away from me and leaves the room, shutting the door quietly behind him. He leaves me sobbing to
myself, curled up in a ball on the floor, shaking and hurting and ill, and drenched in the blood of my very
best friend in the world.
7. Vengeance
'My afflictions have conquered me; I now am well aware what crimes I venture on: but rage, the cause of
woes most grievous to the human race, over my better reason hath prevailed.' - Euripides, Medea
Our company of Players are pleased to present, for your delectation and delight, a Tragedy in four acts.

I haven't moved from my bed since my last toilet break.


I've counted the stones making up the ceiling. 152 black stones, all subtly different in texture or surface or
shape.
152 stones.
Or maybe I counted it wrong. Perhaps I could count them again, just to make sure
I shift my body slightly. The tiny movement makes the straw under my back poke through my robe and
scrape against my skin.
I want to go back to the bathroom. I need to use the sink. I need to wash my hands again, not that it will do
any good. Last time I was there I held my bloody hands under the taps until the water ran clean, but it hasn't
made the smell go away. The stench of blood coats my fingers like sticky residue.
I don't think I'll ever get the smell of Ron's blood out of my nostrils.
I should get up. Even if all I do is walk around my cell, it's better than just lying here. But my head is
pounding so badly that I can't get up anymore without going dizzy.
On second thoughts, it's probably best to just stay still.
I stare at the ceiling, lost in my thoughts and so hot I can't bear it. Sweat runs down my face, running over
my lips and onto my tongue. It soaks my robes, clamping them to my skin.
105

I'd love a long hot bath. To submerge myself into boiling water, to feel it swirl around me, to put my head
under and block everything out. To lie there in complete silence, and for the world to be blotted out as the
water clamps over my ears.

It's been ages since they left; ages since Bellatrix and Dolohov took Ron away and Lucius stormed out of the
room calling me pathetic. It must have been more than a day. Maybe two, maybe three.
I really have no idea.
I would think that they were leaving me to die in here, if it were not for the fact that they have carried on
bringing me food and taking me down to the toilets every so often.
Maybe it's another mind-game they're playing with me. Giving me too much time to think: too much time to
turn everything over and over in my mind.
I bet it's Lucius' idea.
He's a very clever man. He knows that physical pain isn't the only way you can make a person suffer.
-It would have broken your heart, I am sure, should you have seen the look of betrayal on his face as you
smiled and plunged the knife into his handI pummel my hands into my eyes, pushing my fists into the sockets in an attempt to burn his words from my
memory.
I want to scream. I want to hurt, to bleed, and cry. I want to suffer for what I've done.
He was right. I'm so weak, so pathetic.
You're a coward. Just like him.
I'm nothing like him, I'm not! We're nothing like each-other.
But it's too late. The words he branded on my mind are still sizzling.
We're not so different, you and I both of us are cruel to get what we want
I'm not cruel! House elves deserve freedom, just like anybody else. I was only trying to help them.
But people kept on telling me it was a cruel thing to do. Even Hagrid said that to free them would amount
to cruelty.
And I wouldn't listen to him. I just carried on doing what I thought was right, even though everyone said I
was in the wrong.
That's another thing I have in common withI slam my head back down on the ground. I put my hands over my eyes, and let silent tears roll out of the
corners of my eyes.
I'm nothing like him.
106

Footsteps echo down the corridor, breaking the endless crawl of measureless time.
'Get them out of here.' I don't recognize the female voice that rings outside of my cell. 'Take them to the
warehouse. We'll stay there tonight and then we'll move on in the morning. I have a hiding place in the north
which the Dark Lord says we can use.'
There's a creak as a cell door opens. My eyes flicker automatically to my own door, but it remains shut.
I listen carefully, and I'm rewarded by a soft scraping sound as something heavy is dragged along the
corridor outside.
It's a horrible noise because I can identify its cause. Someone is being dragged along the ground. That's skin
scraping against stone.
It isn't accompanied by any noise of protest, though.
I would go to my window to see what's going on, but I just don't have the energy to get up.
The dragging goes on, getting fainter and fainter as it moves along the corridor until finally, once again,
there is silence.
I stay perfectly still on my pile of straw, my eyes fixed on the doorway.
What was that all about?
Actually, I don't care. I'm too tired.
I need some sleep
I should be so lucky. More voices swell up in the corridor. I can't quite make out what they're saying, but
they're getting louder as they move towards my cell.
I can't have a moment's rest. Not even when they decide to leave me alone for days on end.
There's no peace to be had. There's no resting from fear, or from guilt.
The soft murmur of voices begins to be distinguished by words.
'our responsibility. I don't like it any more than you do, but we'll have to take them with us.'
I know that voice. It's been my constant companion, for the past few days.
He's not alone. There's someone else with him.
'The little brats are more trouble than they're worth.' I know that voice, too. The pair of them stop outside my
door as she sighs resignedly. 'Do you know where you're going?'
'I've been married to your sister for years: of course I know where I'm going. I've had to visit the place more
times than I care to recount.'
'You'll have to be careful.' Is that concern in her voice? 'They're looking for her, and you're hardly unknown
to them. They might follow you if they're waiting outside-'

107

'All the better to stop wasting time here, then.' He coldly cuts her concern in half. 'We should get on our way
as soon as possible. I'll take the girl - I know how to handle her after the amount of time we've spent
together. You and Antonin can take the boy.'
No. I don't want to be alone with him. I don't even want to see him
'We'll split up,' Lucius continues. 'Therefore if they catch up with one half of us the Dark Lord will still have
one of them in our grasp.'
'Good idea,' Bellatrix agrees. 'I'll need to find Antonin before setting off, but I should catch up with you soon
enough.' There's a short pause before she speaks again in a much softer voice. 'Good luck, brother.'
Lucius gives a light chuckle. 'Brother, indeed.' There's another short pause. 'I shall see you soon, hopefully.'
There's the sound of footsteps dying away down the corridor, and then the door to my cell clicks and swings
open.
Why can't he just leave me alone?
His eyes fall immediately on me as he steps into the room.
I don't move. I just don't have the energy. Anyway, he thinks I believe on the floor, doesn't he? He can't
really complain.
He clicks his fingers at me. 'You, up.'
I ignore the swell of anger in my chest. I'm too tired to refuse him.
I shakily roll myself up from the ground, somehow managing to get to my feet, but as soon as I do my head
reels and spins, and my knees collapse under me and I fall forwards to the floor on all fours.
He grips my chin, wrenching my head up.
'You look absolutely terrible,' he says bluntly. 'I thought you were looking bad when I last saw you, but if
anything you look even worse now. What's wrong with you?'
He's talking to me. I just manage to register that fact.
His face wavers and blurs before me, turning into just shapes and colours. I can't focus on anything as all the
world becomes a mess before my eyes.
He gives me a small slap across the face. Not with malice, I don't think. Just to sharpen my focus.
'I'm not well. I thought you'd gathered that yesterday.'
He rolls his eyes and he lets go of my chin to pull a small drinking flask out of his robes. It's the same one he
taunted me with when I first came here.
'Here,' he hands it to me. 'Drink this.'
Shakily, I reach out for the bottle, bring it to my lips and pour its contents down my throat. I don't care if
there's anything other than water in here. I'm past caring. I drink down everything in the bottle until there's
nothing left. The water runs over the dry walls of my throat, but it doesn't stop my head from pounding.
I lower the bottle, licking my lips feverishly.
108

His face is tight with impatience as he watches me. 'Is that any better?'
I try to get myself up, but I just fall down again, shaking my head. 'I can't,' I whisper.
He stands up, sighing in exasperation. 'Damn you,' he mutters with such vehemence that I open my eyes.
He's looking at me with such a still control that it quite terrifies me. 'Why do you insist on making
everything so difficult?'
He does a sort of spinning motion with his wand, causing thick ropes to emerge from the end of it. He pulls
me up into a sitting position before grabbing hold of my wrists and tying them together.
I surprise myself with my own lack of struggle.
'What are you doing?'
He doesn't look at me, but carries on pulling hard at the ropes. They cut into my wrists, burning at my skin.
'We have a journey to make, and I don't trust you not to embark on a foolish escape attempt.'
He pulls the rope so tight it feels like my blood's being cut off. Then he ties up my ankles, and as soon as he
has deemed me to be securely helpless he picks me up in his arms.
When he first captured me he needed to curse me to make me accept this. Now I'm so tired that I just don't
care anymore. I'm just grateful that I don't have to walk anywhere.
'What's going on?' I ask weakly. 'Where are we going?'
'I have told you,' he mutters as he carries me out of my cell and into the corridor, 'we are going on a journey.'
'But where?'
'What does it matter where?' he replies bitingly, moving swiftly down the corridor. 'We are leaving this place
and moving on to somewhere else. Surely you have not become so attached to your cell that you shall miss it
all that much?'
'No, I just-'
'You just thought you'd waste my time by asking damned foolish questions.' We reach the stairs at the end of
the corridor and begin to ascend them. 'You'll discover where we're going soon enough.'
We reach the top of the stairs and move swiftly along the corridor of the Death-Eater's living quarters. All
around us there are others rushing around in apparent panic, collecting their belongings and running towards
the great hall.
'What's going on?' I ask again, but my throat is so dry that my voice comes out as little more than a whisper.
I don't think he heard me. Either that or he's ignoring me.
We stop for a moment outside a door which Lucius opens with his wand before summoning a small but full
bag towards us. He manages to catch hold of it without letting go of me before heading off to the main Hall.
We eventually make our way through the various doors and passageways that lead to the shack we entered
through so, so long ago, and I feel myself ready to cry with happy relief as we emerge into the open air,
away from that endless horrible awful prison.
109

The fresh air hits me like cold water. The trees are dense above my head, and Lucius has to cast Lumos to be
able to see properly, but I can smell that it's night time. The air has that slightly damp, cold smell of after
dark. Fresh, cold air stings my cheeks and fills my lungs.
I'm overwhelmed by feelings I never thought I'd experience again.
But I don't have much time to enjoy it. He puts me on the ground in a sitting position and crouches down
next to me, holding out his hand.
'Your hand, Miss Granger.'
My mind flashes back to that night in my bedroom, that night when he turned up and everything changed.
'Your hand, Miss Granger'
I kick out at him clumsily with my bound legs, but he just laughs at me softly before grabbing me by the
hair.
'Don't bother trying to escape,' he whispers, gripping my hair so tightly that my head pulses. 'Where do you
think you would go? Look at you ill, weak, and tied up. How far do you expect to get?'
I try to twist away from him but he just grabs me by the arm as his grip on my hair tightens, pulling me
closer to him.
'No.' He doesn't even raise his voice. 'Don't even think about it. Even if you were to escape, I would make
sure that you lived to regret it.'
'How?' I ask, without any strength left to raise my voice above a whisper. 'How could I possibly regret
getting away from you?'
His lips curl up into a cold, twisted smile. 'You seem to forget that I have your little friend under my control.'
He smiles all the wider as my face drains of colour. 'Oh yes, I know now what currency to use in order to
buy your obedience. You will comply with my wishes, or I shall make sure that Ronald Weasley will be
forced to endure sufferings beyond human comprehension. I shall enjoy taking a personal hand in it.'
Damn him. He's got me caught, stuck in a prison of obedience out of my friendship with Ron. And he knows
it.
'Now,' he holds his hand out once again, 'take my hand and come with me. Try doing as you're told without
being forced into it, for once.'
Reluctantly, I drag my arms up, stretching out the fingers of one of my hands awkwardly. He smiles at me.
'Good. Perhaps there's hope for you yet.'
He slowly, deliberately slides his hand into mine, wrapping his fingers around my own. I shiver involuntarily
at his touch, and the last thing I see before we Apparate together is his pale face sneering back at me.
We emerge from the tiny, airless, cramped space Apparation presses you into, and he stands up as I bring my
bound wrists to my forehead and rub clumsily at my skull with both hands, trying to pull myself together and
to get rid of this perpetual thumping pain.
I lower my hands, and blink, and blink.
We're next to a huge, black lake. Mist sits over it in a thick blanket, lit up silver by the moonlight.
110

He strides to the water-bed, shakes back the sleeve of his robe and pulls his wand out of his pocket. He
slashes it across his wrist, ripping a huge gash the skin. He takes the hurt without so much of a whimper. He
shakes his wrist over the water, allowing his blood to drip into it. He seals up the gash and then he stands
back, calling over the water in a clear, loud voice.
'I am one of the ancient and most noble House of Black.' His voice bounces back to us in echoes. 'I require
passage over the lake.'
Almost as soon as he's finished speaking he turns and bends down to pick me up once again.
'You're not a Black,' I say weakly, wanting to straighten my thoughts out.
'My, how astute you are. Your intelligence will never cease to amaze me.'
'Alright.' I sigh the word, closing my eyes in resigned exhaustion. 'I was only wondering'
I let the words trail off; let them disappear into the air.
'I may not be a Black, but I married one,' he says after a short silence. 'In marrying Nar my wife, I became
a part of her family. My blood effectively became that of hers.'
Pure-bloods fanatics. Their twisted logic will never make sense to me.
'Ah, here we are.'
At his words my eyes flicker open to see a small boat coming out of the mist, floating silently along the
water. The blue flamed torch at its bow casts an eerie, flickering light over the water's surface. It silently
comes to a stop by the river, bumping silently on the bank.
He puts me and the bag he's carrying into the boat and gets in himself behind me, pushing the boat away
from the bank with his foot. I turn around, watching the bank move away from us. My chance of escape
His arm winds around my waist.
I jump as I feel his grip tight around me, reminding me of a cobra in those nature programs Dad likes so
much. The ones that squeeze you slowly to death.
'What are you doing?' I whisper.
He looks down at me with no expression at all. 'This lake is known amongst local Muggles as being
extremely dangerous,' he murmurs. 'Many of them have died while swimming in the water, or trying to sail
across it. The few that have survived any contact with it lost their minds soon afterwards. In view of this
fact, I would advise you to let me hold on to you. Believe me, I wouldn't allow you to be so close to me if it
were not necessary.'
He tightens his grip around my waist, and although I dislike it, I don't fight against him. I know that he
wouldn't be holding on to me if he didn't feel like he had to. It's not as if he's using it as a cheap excuse to try
and touch me - he has made it clear enough times that I am repulsive to him.
But still I don't like it. I don't like the way his grip is so tight around my ribs it feels as if he's going to
crush my bones.
I can feel his breath gently brush against the back of my neck.
It's making me uncomfortable.
111

We float quietly across the water, the boat creating ripples across the still, glassy surface of the lake. The
moonlight adds shards of silver to the deep blue. It looks so tranquil and serene. It couldn't seem less
dangerous if it tried.
'You don't need to hold on to me,' I say quietly. 'There's nothing here.'
I look up at him, but he continues to look out over the water. 'They might, if we are lucky, remain dormant
due to my presence in the boat.'
'But why-'
'Shh.' His voice cuts across mine, harshly stopping my words dead. 'It would not be wise for you to alert
them to your existence.'
'I don't get it-'
'Damn you, can you for once do as you're told?' he hisses, struggling to keep his voice down. 'I'm not saying
this for my own benefit. If you know what's good for you, you'll keep your damn mouth closed!'
I clamp my lips together at that, knowing that there's no point in pushing it. Something's worrying him, and
I'm not going to bring any more trouble upon myself.
We sail quietly across the water, and his grip on me remains tight although nothing seems to be happening. I
can feel the iron strength of his arm through the layers of robe between us.
I let my eyes float over the water, taking in the darkness of the surface broken with ripples of silver.
Occasionally I think I can see something moving beneath the surface. I can see strange glints of light, or odd
little movements of something indistinguishable under the dark face of the water.
A horrible thought comes to me; a memory of Harry telling me about the cave by the sea, the water teeming
with the dead
'There aren't Inferi in here, are there?' I whisper, trying to ignore the panicky, squashy feelings deep in my
stomach.
'No,' he murmurs back, 'but there are beings that are just as deadly when provoked. And they see your kind
as provocation. So will you kindly keep your voice down?'
My kind? What does he mean by 'my kind'?
What do you think he means?
I suppose
Mudbloods. That's what 'my kind' is to him.
But they don't only go for Mudbloods, but muggles too Oh god!
It'll be okay. They haven't attacked you yet, and you've got Lucius with youSo I'm looking to Lucius for protection now?
The thought turns my entire world upside-down, just for a second.
112

Eventually the mist clears, revealing a long stone wall in the side of a tall hill. There's a small opening in the
wall, like a low cave, and the boat sails quietly towards it
The boat begins to rock.
The arm around my waist tightens.
I look over the side to the water. There are long fingered, greenish arms reaching out to us, grabbing at the
boat, moving it from side to side.
Voice. Strange, musical, high-pitched voices.
'The Mudblood!'
'A Muggle tries to cross the water!'
'Stop the Muggle.'
The voices all rise, merging together to form a horrible, inhuman chorus.
Lucius' grip around my waist tightens, bringing me so close to him that his cheek presses in to the side of my
head.
'Hold on to me: hold on for all you're worth. Do not let go, do you understand?'
I look up at him. His face is taut with worry. I nod, and move my arms back so that I can cling on to his arm
with my fingers as best as I can with my hands tied together.
He stares back at me grimly for a second before he's distracted as the boat starts to rock violently, swaying
too and fro as the hands grab at the sides of it, pushing, pulling'Damn it,' he mutters as he reaches for his wand in his robes. He points it at the head of the boat.
'Immobilus!'
The boat comes to a complete halt just at the mouth of the cave in the side of the wall. It's no longer rocking,
but it's no longer sailing forward, either.
I lean forwards to look over the side, to see if those things are still there, but he holds onto me tightly.
'Stay still,' he says, his voice rigid. 'Do not move unless it's necessary, do you hear?'
Almost as soon as he says that the strange hands come out of the water, up and into the boat, which still does
not rock as it should be doing.
'Stupefy!'
The red light shoots from Lucius' wand towards the creatures, but it just runs through them, as if they were
as insubstantial as the air.
'Stupefy!' he calls out again. 'Avada Kedavra! Stupefy! Immobilus!'
But the spells just rush through the hands, not even touching them as they grab at me, gripping at my clothes,
my hair, my body, pulling me out of the boat. Lucius tries to keep his grip on me, and I try to hold on to him
but I can't because my wrists are tied together and my fingers aren't strong enough on their own. The hands
113

of the creatures are strong, too strong as they pull at me, wrenching me out of the boat and shit! I'm going to
go over'Hold on!' he yells.
But I can't, I can't, too strong'The muggle cannot cross.' The musical voices ring with laughter. They wrench me out of his grip. I struggle
against them, holding on for all my worth to the boat, trying to make a grab for Lucius' arms, his robes, the
boat, but I can't, and I go over the edge, and Oh My God what am I going to do?
I hit the water with a stinging 'smack'.
I bob like a cork before I sink down, the water closing over my head.
It presses down at me from all sides, blocking out everything sound, pain, the world. It's cool on my hot
body. Oh, so beautifully cold. And silent.
What am I doing? I don't want to fight it. I want to stay here forever. I want to float here, to be taken to
oblivion where I can forget everything; pain, fear, thought.
The cool hands pull me down through the water, and finally I can put faces to the hands. Greenish in colour,
with blank, white eyes, pointed teeth which are bared in a smile as they laugh, dragging me down into the
cold, dark deep
I want to go with them. I don't want to think, to feel, to know. I just want to disappear into this cool abyss, oh
yes, take me with you.
But then some thick, red liquid swirls around me, growing in size as it filters through the water, and almost
as soon as it does the creatures disperse, sinking away from me, letting me go. Their voices grow fainter as
they all disappear, and I am left alone, floating in the cold water, my hair and my red robes swirling around
me.
Air I need oh, my lungs, they hurt- can't breathe, breath, can't seeI don't want to die.
An iron band of strength clamps around my waist, and I'm pulled up, up through the water which swirls and
presses down on me
I break through the surface, my lungs filling quickly with wonderful air, so quickly that it hurts, scraping the
walls of my chest and my throat. I cough out about a ton of water as I feel myself pulled up, and up...
I fall into the boat, coughing up more water than I've ever drank in my life and trying so hard to breathe in as
much of the night air as possible.
Did did he just rescue me?
'Why didn't you hold on?'
'I tried!' I gasp, wheezing the words out between coughs.
'Not hard enough!' His fingers bite into my wet shoulders, and he's wet too, his blonde hair dripping around
his shoulders. His eyes are blazing with rage.
114

'You stupid girl!' He keeps his grip on my shoulders, looking so closely into my face that my vision almost
goes double. 'Why didn't you do as you were told?'
I breathe heavily, watching the water run down his face.
He breaks the eye contact between us, and runs his hand over his head. When he looks at me again he's got
his control back again, all emotion gone.
He turns to the front of the boat again.
'Finite Incantatem,' he mutters, and the boat begins to sail forwards into the dark cave.
'Where have they gone?' I ask quietly.
'I spilt my blood into the water.' He pulls his wand out of his robes and points it at his wand at his wrist, and
a golden glow flows out of his wand and onto the large cut gouged into his skin, which heals up quickly.
'How would that help me?' I ask blankly.
'Those creatures go for Mudbloods,' he replies matter-of-factly. 'I thought that to spill my blood in the water
would banish them. It's just as well that my impulse proved to be correct.'
I don't say anything. I just sit there, shivering as the boat floats yet deeper into the cave.
He dries himself off with his wand, and he frowns at me for a second before he points his wand at me, and I
sigh in relief as wonderful, dry warmth spreads over me.
'You can't have spilt that much, though,' I say. 'There was loads of blood in the water-'
'I cast Engorgio on it while it was on its way out of the wound,' he replies before I can finish.
My jaw drops slightly. I can't help it. I wouldn't even have thought about doing that.
We sail on in silence through the now still water. No more of those things bother us, although occasionally
I think I can still see one of their faces in the water, looming up to the surface before disappearing again.
I try to keep my eyes off the lake, looking only ahead out into the blackness in front of us.
Eventually the ceiling of the cave opens up to reveal a huge underground cavern. The ceiling is so high I
can't really make it out, and the walls are lined with blue flaming torches, giving the place a cold, eerie light.
And in the middle of this cave there's a huge I could call it a house, but that wouldn't be right. It's almost
like a castle. It's so elaborate and almost impossibly grand-looking that it takes my breath away. It looks like
a picture from a book I had when I was a little girl a picture of the castle of the Dark Fairie queen. Both
terrifying and beautiful.
The boat lands on a bank with a gentle bump. He steps out of the boat, picking up first his belongings and
then me as he does so. He carries me up to the door of the house, which he opens to reveal only darkness
inside.
'Welcome to your new lodgings, Mudblood,' he mutters, before closing the door behind us, shutting us away
in the dark.
'Lumos!'
115

Light filters into the pitch black of the building, but I can't really make out much of what's around us. Lucius
seems to know where he's going, however. He carries me through what seems to be several corridors.
Eventually we go through a door into a room that I can't see properly through the darkness. He puts me down
on something soft, before turning back to the doorway we entered through.
'Colloportus!'
The door seals itself with a familiar squelching noise.
I'm trapped, once again, in a room with a man that hates me.
Same situation, different surroundings.
'Nox.'
The room plunges into darkness as he mutters the incantation. I sit still, very still, not really knowing what to
do.
What's he doing? Is he still here?
And then a dark, almost orange light fills the room to reveal that I'm sitting on a chaise lounge in a very
dingy, very dank, and altogether very creepy Victorian parlour with no windows and one door. It's horrible.
It's exactly the sort of place they talk about in children's horror stories; the ones that would terrify me and
stop me from sleeping for weeks.
And there are things in this place. Nasty, foul things dotted around like decorations; on the fireplace, on
the floor, on top of little tables. Skulls, dead animals still strangely preserved, strange dusty bottles which, I
am sure, do not contain anything benign.
Lucius comes over to me and flicks his wand at my wrists and at my ankles. The ropes tying them together
unravel themselves, falling to the floor.
I rub at my wrists, trying to get the sensation back into them.
He grips hold of my chin and looks into my face, turning it from side to side.
'Come on then, what's the matter with you?' he asks impatiently.
'What do you care?' I pull my face out of his grip. He said once before that he didn't want to touch me any
more than necessary, and the feeling is entirely reciprocated.
'What use is a prisoner who can barely walk to me?' he says in exasperation. 'I have plans for you, and they
require your good health.'
I should have known that he's not about to help me because he feels sorry for me.
But then, what's the point in fighting against it? If he genuinely is going to cure me then I'm not about to
complain.
I roll off my symptoms robotically, and he nods before turning away, going to the fireplace to conjure up a
fire.
I don't watch him. I can't really see what he's doing, anyway. He's got his back to me.
116

I look around the room. There are so many disgusting things just lying around, anywhere and everywhere.
It's almost like Grimmauld place was, but it's worse because at least Grimmauld Place had friends of mine in
it, brightening the place up and trying to make it inhabitable. When was the last time anyone cleared this
place up?
Wait a minute what the hell is that?
I almost gag as I push myself back across the chair, away from the huge, black, dead snake with a knife
planted in it that rests at the foot of the sofa
Hang on a second a knife?
I look over at him. He's still got his back to me.
I edge forwards towards the snake again, and I try not to shudder as I grab it's scaly, horrible back, ooooh no,
and I ease the knife slowly out of it. Black blood silently oozes out of the wound, but thankfully it doesn't get
on my hands.
I back away again when I'm finished, edging towards the other end of the chair. It's not a huge knife, but then
it's not small either, and the blade looks sharp enough.
Without really thinking about what I'm doing, I slip the knife into a pocket in my robes. I watch Lucius all
the while, holding my breath for fear that he'll turn around, but he doesn't.
I don't know what I'm going to do, but I'll have to think of something.
Are you a killer, Hermione? Would you be prepared to go that far?
I don't know what I'd do anymore, to be honest.
Eventually he turns and comes over to me, handing me a plain silver goblet.
'Drink this.' His voice is cool and clipped.
I look in the goblet. I recognise the potion. I've taken it enough times when I've gone to the hospital wing
with flu, or fever, or any regular illness, and I've had to brew it up myself in potions lessons.
But I can't just drink something offered to me by Lucius Malfoy, can I?
He watches me hesitate over the drink.
'What are you waiting for?' he says impatiently. 'I have no need to kill you; not yet anyway.'
'Can you really blame me?' I ask quietly. 'You've hardly treated me well so far. Why should I trust you?'
I feel a small, sharp burn cross my face, but I don't give any sign that I've felt it at all.
'Don't be insolent,' he says curtly. 'Drink it.'
I slip my hand into my pocket, feeling the blade of the knife, sharp against my fingers.
Not yet. Wait.

117

I lift the cup up to my lips and I gulp the potion down quickly. It's very sweet, almost sickeningly so, but as
it seeps through my insides I can feel my head clear as the pain ebbs away from me and my body cools
down.
He nods as he watches me drain the last of the potion. 'Good. Stand up.'
I put the cup down on the floor and I get to my feet, managing to do so without even swaying.
I feel ready to face anything.
Not yet. Plan ahead. Wait.
He looks at me, nodding as he notices my improvement, his face giving nothing away.
What can I do? This could be the only time I'm going to be alone with him. I have to use this opportunity
now, or who knows when another one might come along?
But what can I do about Ron? I can't just get myself out of here without trying to work out how I can help
him to escape too.
But then if I wait for him to arrive, if he is going to arrive, then I'll have to face Bellatrix and Dolohov too.
It's going to be tricky enough to get past Lucius, let alone two more Death-Eaters.
Sort it out, get things straightened out first. Do it gradually, with one foot in front of the other.
'Where's Ron?'
His mouth twists up into a contemptuous sneer. 'Quite attached to the boy, aren't you?'
'Where is he?' I snap at him, sick of him taunting me about something that's none of his damn business
anyway.
He raises his eyebrows, a smirk creeping over his lips. 'I wonder, does your friend know what strong
reactions he provokes in you? Is it requited, your burning passion?'
My face burns, and I don't answer him. I won't give him that satisfaction.
Don't listen to him. They're empty words, meaningless
'Or,' he goes on remorselessly, 'does he just like to keep you on hand? Does he like to have you around as
a back-up plan, if you will, just in case no-one better comes along?'
'No!' I reply hotly.
'No?' He looks deep into my eyes. I can feel him probing into my mind, creeping around. I blink, once twice,
three times, because I can't let him see into my mind, not now. He might see the knife
He's smiling a warped, almost perverted smile as his eyes bore into mine even as I blink, delving deep and
pulling thoughts and memories out of me.
But I don't think he's seen the knife. Not yet.
'I can see someone,' he drawls maliciously. 'Someone's face in your thoughts. It's another girl a rival for
your affections, I think. What's her name?'
118

I keep quiet, but he doesn't need me to speak. His words bring all that jealousy and all that anger I felt
flowing back to me.
'Lavender, you say? Ah, a pretty name for a pretty girl.' He withdraws his mind from mine and he moves
closer, his voice so low I can barely hear him. 'It hurt you, didn't it, that he chose her over you? Someone so
simple, with only a tenth of your intelligence.'
'That's not true,' I reply, my words sharp and short.
Lies, Hermione.
'I think it is. I think you realised that he had to choose between the intelligent one and the pretty one, and he
chose the pretty one. The pretty, stupid one who had more to offer him than you did.'
I feel the blood pound through my ears as I finger the knife in my pocket and I try to let his words fall
around me, wash over me. I don't want to hear them, I don't care about Ron or about Lavender, I don't!
He brushes a lock of hair slowly away from my face. 'It's a common failing amongst teenage boys,
Mudblood.' His voice is low, too low, and if I didn't know any better I'd think what would I think? 'They
can't see past the physical aspects of things. They like what they are told to like. They don't yet know their
own minds well enough to realise what they want.'
I stand rooted to the spot, almost holding my breath. I don't know what he's talking about.
I don't want to know what he's talking about.
'Now tell me,' he goes on remorselessly, 'how did you react when you learned that he had chosen someone
else over you? Did you pretend you were fine about it all, or did you take revenge? Hell hath no fury like a
woman scorned, they say, and you have quite a temper on you, as I have discovered. I know what option I
would have chosen.'
His fingers trace a slow, deliberate line down my cheek from my eyes to my chin as he looks deep into my
eyes. I blink, several times, because I can't let him see my thoughts right now, not with what I'm planning.
'Ah.' He smiles all the wider as he catches my thoughts and takes them into his own, and my heart stops for a
moment, but his grin makes me realise that he hasn't seen that deeply. Not enough to see past what he's
looking for. 'You chose that immortal revenge tactic, did you? I would have thought that dating his Quiddich
rival was a little too Slytherin for you, Miss Granger.'
'What would you know?' I ask, finally breaking my silence and batting his hand away from me. 'You don't
know anything about me.'
He points his wand at my face and I feel that stinging, tearing slap again.
'Oh dear.' He continues to smile as he puts his wand back into his robes. 'And there was I, thinking we were
having a perfectly pleasant conversation.'
I take a deep breath, using all of my stamina to ignore him.
One foot in front of the other.
'Why are we here?' I ask.

119

His eyebrows twitch up. 'Good god, your curiosity is positively feline.' He tilts his head back slightly in a
haughty gesture. 'Our Head-quarters had to be evacuated. Carrow gave our position away after his capture
before we could get to him.'
Icy fear trickles down my spine. They're going to blame me for this, I know it. The knowledge floods over
me with a feeling of resigned dread.
How dare you feel resigned to it?
He doesn't stop smiling that sick, perverse smile. 'You look a little frightened, Mudblood.' He chuckles. 'I
can't say I blame you. I have been ordered to punish you for your part in this unfortunate event, and as you
know I am only ever too pleased to carry out my orders.'
'Why?' I ask, my lungs empty and airless. 'I thought I was telling the truth! Harry must have been where I
said he was at the time the quill said I wasn't lying.'
'That's neither here nor there,' he replies smoothly. 'It was your information that led us here, whether you
thought you were telling the truth or not.' He runs his eyes over me distastefully. 'And now I am stuck out
here, in the back end of nowhere in this run down old place, with only you for company.'
'Isn't anyone else coming?' My voice is suddenly higher pitched than usual, much to my annoyance.
He smiles at my discomfort; a sick, self satisfied smile. He knows the power of fear he has over me. 'Oh yes.
Bella and Antonin will arrive here soon with your little friend. We won't be left alone together for long.' He
raises his eyebrows smugly. 'Sorry to disappoint you.'
I take a deep breath. 'When are they going to get here?' I ask.
His face creases into a tiny frown. 'Soon,' he says carefully, his voice very quiet. 'Let that be enough for you.
Your morbid curiosity will get you into trouble one day, if you don't learn to control it.'
Breathe, Hermione. He doesn't know, not yet.
I reach into my pocket to feel the blade, now warm due to the amount of time I've been holding it. I slip it
against my fingers.
'I don't know why you're so eager for the boy to arrive.' A small smile flickers onto his face, as if he's
genuinely amused by something. 'Mind you, his almost unending stupidity does make you look almost
intelligent by comparison. Perhaps that's your reason for wanting him with you-'
'Ron's not stupid!' I snap. 'And neither am I.'
'He is stupid,' he replies. 'You well, you've got some basic intelligence, I grant you, but nothing beyond
what is the normal level for a Muggle.'
His words sting me into a response. 'I've been told that I'm the best in my year at school-'
'Oh, you're so proud of that, aren't you? Draco has told me time and time again about your incessant hand
raising in class. Do you enjoy showing off your intelligence, thereby inadvertently putting your peers down?'
'No!' My cheeks flush at that one. 'I put my hand up in class because I know the answer to the questions
being asked-'
'Lie to yourself if you must, but not to me.' He cuts across me again. 'At least I am honest about my own
superiority. You you can't even be honest to yourself.'
120

I don't answer him. I slip my fingertips over the blade of the knife.
'So intelligent,' he says quietly, looking me up and down. 'Ruthless too, from what I've heard.'
'What are you talking about?'
He smiles at me again, and there's something new in his face. Something that could, if I'm not mistaken, be
respect. 'I have heard stories about you over the years, Miss Granger. Unpalatable stories.'
What is he going on about?
'For example,' he continues, 'I heard all about that poor Edgecombe girl about how you disfigured her
simply because she let the cat out of the bag concerning your little Defence against the Dark Arts group.'
I suck in my breath.
'That was a cruel trick.' His voice is low, almost seductive. 'So clever, but so cruel. Worthy of a Slytherin, in
fact. Have you ever considered that the sorting hat might have put you in the wrong house?'
'No!' I snap.
He smirks slightly. 'No, you're probably right. The best thing about Slytherin is that they don't let Mudbloods
in. It's a shame, really who knows what you might have become, if it were not for that one failing-'
'Why is it a failing?' It's my turn to cut across him now.
'I have told you why.' He rolls his eyes. 'You have no right to study magic, no right at all. I inherited my
talent from my ancestors some of the greatest witches and wizards that ever walked the earth. You you're
nothing more than a freak of nature.'
'I bloody am not.'
'Oh, really?' He leans forward and puts his hand on my cheek, tangling his fingers into my hair. 'What else
would you call yourself, then?'
I ignore the jumping feeling in my chest and I answer him. 'A witch?'
Why did I voice that as a question?
'A witch.' He pushes his fingers deeper into my hair. 'I see. I do wonder just how long it will take you to see
otherwise.'
For a moment, there's a look in his eye that terrifies me. What is it?
He shakes his head slightly, throwing the look out of his eyes, and he pulls his hand away from my hair.
'Where do you think you got your 'powers' from?' he asks me quietly. 'Blood is so very important. Blood is
what transfers power from wizard to wizard. Blood is the most important thing in the magical world. I would
have thought that one of your supposed intelligence would be aware of that.'
Blood. I can smell Ron's blood again; I can see it bright before my eyes. I can see his thumb lying on the
floor, an inanimate, dead object. It turns my stomach over, over and over again and I feel sick. Ron's thumb.
I cut it off.

121

Lucius watches me, a horrible smirk on his face. 'You're remembering what you did, aren't you?' His voice is
heavy with callous enjoyment. It tears holes in me. 'You're remembering how you cut the thumb off of his
hand.'
Every instinct I have tells me to shout at him, to scream out my rage and to hurt him, make him bleed and
scream and oh yes, it would feel so good to plunge that knife into him right now.
But I don't. I need to keep my temper if I'm going to use this knife to effect. I can't just lash out, or I'll lose
control.
'How could you make me do it?' My voice is calm and still, like his own. Perhaps I could get through to him
if I can keep my emotions under control like he does. 'How can you treat people like that?'
'Because I can.' He rolls his eyes as he replies, tired of my attempts to discover any humanity he might
possess. 'Now, I think it's time for you to go to bed, little girl.'
'I'm seventeen,' I snap at him.
He sneers at me. 'You wouldn't know it, from the way you behave.'
He makes to grab at my arm.
Now, Hermione.
I rip the knife out of my pocket and hold it up to him his face.
His reaction isn't what I expected.
I thought, I hoped I'd see real fear, and although fear definitely flickers over his face and makes him draw
breath, it's gone in a second to be replaced by the smallest of smiles.
'Oh dear, how foolish you can be.' His voice is low and perfectly still.
'Aren't you scared?' I hiss at him, my hand shaking like mad in front of his face, the knife wobbling
dangerously. I take a deep breath to try and steady myself.
'My dear girl, why on earth should I be scared?' His smile spreads, widens.
'I could kill you.'
'And that should scare me?' he asks, his voice low with challenge. 'Do it.'
I take all my breath in very suddenly.
Can I do it?
I should do it. I should cut him into a thousand pieces for everything he's done.
But I can't be like him. I can't be a murderer.
Do it, Hermione! He deserves it!
He watches me in silence. That smile doesn't leave his face as I deliberate with myself.
He knows that I can't do it. He knows!
122

'Well go on, then.' He's goading me. 'You want to, don't you? After everything I've done to you, you must
want to. But I'm curious after you've killed me how do you plan on getting across the lake without anyone
to help you?'
'Shut up!' I hiss, my hand shaking like nothing else as my plan starts to crumble around my ears.
He laughs at me; a low chuckle of mocking. I move my hand forwards, planting the blade against his cheek.
It glints silver on his pale skin, and he stops laughing, his eyes flickering down to the blade before moving
back to me. The smile still remains but there's a slight amount of fear in his eyes, and oh yes, it's my turn
now, you bastard!
'I'll strike up a deal with you, Lucius.' The power is mine now. If I can just keep my nerve, then I can get out
of this.
'Ah, a negotiation,' he replies. I get the feeling he's almost enjoying himself. Almost. 'Well, I'm listening,
Mudblood. What's your proposition?'
He speaks with such a calm confidence. Why isn't he more afraid?
'I want you to give me your wand.' My voice is calm and firm and I'm not shaking and I'm not scared.
Not at all.
'For what? So that you can Apparate out of here? Tell me, if Apparation was possible within this cave, do
you really think I would have bothered to take you across the lake?'
I take a deep breath. I didn't think of that.
'Right then. Well I want you to take me across the river.'
'Or what?'
'Or I'll kill you!' I tighten my grip on the knife, pushing it further into the skin, but not tearing it. Not yet.
'Oh, I see.' His voice is still calm, and he doesn't understand that I'm in control now, me! 'A bargain for my
life. How original. But I feel I should warn you, your escape will not put me in the best of moods. And who
knows who I might take my bad temper out on?'
Damn! He could use Ron to get me to do anything, and he knows that I'd have to go along with it.
'I'm not going to let you go once we get over there!' My voice is shaking, completely going against my
strong words. 'You'll take me over the river, and then you'll come with me and turn yourself in to the Order,
and then you'll tell them exactly where this place is so that they can come back here and rescue Ron.'
'So you expect me to give myself up in exchange for my life?' He laughs, and the blade flashes against his
cheek. 'Why on Earth would you expect me to do that? Death is preferable to life imprisonment. I'd rather
die than let the guards of Azkaban get their hands on me again. So go ahead kill me! What are you waiting
for? Do it!'
I tense up, willing myself to do it, willing myself to hurt him, to stab him, cut him, tear him. To destroy him
like he's destroyed me.
But I can't. I can't do it. I'm not a killer.
He laughs at me as I struggle with myself, the blade shaking across his cheek.
123

'You can't, can you? You just don't have the nerve. You're nothing but a stupid little girl playing with adult's
toys. Although maybe I've only got myself to blame. It was me who taught you how to use a knife in the first
place, after all.'
All the horrible memories of how I planted the knife in my own leg, how I cut off my own best friend's
thumb under his command, and everything else my burning hand, broken fingers, Ron's screams, my
screams, his blood my blood and pain pain pain - all those memories come screaming back to me, ripping up
to the surface and his face burns in front of me, and I hate hate hate him! I want him to die! Who cares? He
deserves it!
I bring back my hand but he catches my wrist before the blade can reach him.
I don't have time to think.
I kick out wildly in front of me, catching him on the shin. He sucks in his breath and his grip on my wrist
loosens. I wrench myself out of his grasp, but he grabs hold of me, trying to grip on to my arms, my waist,
my hair.
I buck and thrash against him, knowing that this is my only chance. I try to wrestle out of his grip, I try to get
away from him, but he grabs hold of me by the waist, and no! I won't let him take this chance from me, I
have to have to have to
I slam the knife into his shoulder.
Oh my god!
A yell rips from his mouth, a yell of pain and horror as he doubles over.
Oh oh god.
Blood spills out of the wound, over his hand as he grips at his shoulder.
I back away from him, horrified and numb and nothing makes sense, and oh my god shit! I can't believe I
just did that, I'm I'm Oh my God!
He clamps his mouth shut, breathing harshly through his nose as he rips the knife out of his body, his face
contorted with agony.
And then he looks up at me with raw, terrible hatred. I'm more scared in this moment than I have ever been
before, because now it's personal, now it really is personal. This isn't just a fight between a prisoner and a
captive anymore, no, now it's him and me and me and him and that's all there is in this, just me and him.
'You little muggle BITCH!'
I turn away from that roar of naked hatred and I run. God knows where, but I can't let him get to me, not
now, not now. Everything's changed, and I changed it.
I stumble to the door, pulling and pulling at the handle, screaming 'let me out', but to no-one, there's no-one
but him. But it won't shift and I'm stuck, and oh, nooooo!
His hands land on my shoulders, spinning me around, and his face is before me, twisted and white with rage
and hate, and I see his fist before my eyes before it hits me, crushing into my face, ow ow owowow!
I fall to the floor, lights flashing before my eyes and my face is broken, smashed, and I can't bear the pain,
the never-ending pain, but he's not finished.
124

He crouches above me, grabbing me by the collar of my robes with one hand and slamming the other into
my face, again and again and again, breaking bones, tearing skin, and pain crashes into me and he sinks his
booted foot into my stomach and my chest and he hits me over and over, punctuating his hits with words of
hate.
'You stupid,' smack, 'disgusting' slap, 'little bitch!' His fist slams into my face, my nose is bleeding, and I'm
screaming and sobbing, and my face is torn, I can taste, smell, feel blood. 'When I'm through with you,
believe me, you will wish you'd never been born!'
He stops then, finally letting go of me and letting me fall to the floor. I feel the world spin around me, and oh
god, my face!
I know nothing but blood and pain.
He stands up, grabbing me by the hair, yanking my head back to face him, and my scalp burns and
everything is pain, everything.
'I shall punish you for this. I shall enjoy watching you suffer for that little stunt.' He looks down into my
face, watching me as I try to stop the tears from running down my face. His own face is so contorted with
white hot fury that he doesn't even look human anymore. 'You should be careful,' he says quietly, his
breathing fast, 'or one day you'll push me too far and I really will murder you.'
I don't doubt for a second that he really means it.
He drags me by the hair and out of the room, along the corridor until eventually he opens a door, and pushes
me into a lightless room, shutting me in there and locking the door as he leaves me alone in the dark.
8. Questions and Answers
'This must be the wood,' she said thoughtfully to herself, 'where things have no names. I wonder what'll
become of my name when I go in? I shouldn't like to lose it at all because they'd have to give me another,
and it would almost be certain to be an ugly one.' Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

'I want you to make full use of the new facilities made available to you in order to make yourself respectable
before you present yourself to me this evening. I have left you a robe that I wish you to wear, but be sure not
put it on until you are ready to join me. Be well aware that things shall become all the worse for Weasley if
you refuse to comply with my wishes. I patiently await your arrival. Malfoy.'
My eyes travel furiously over the twirly, sophisticated scrawl across the note, before I rip it in half, quarters,
eighths, sixteenths, and let it fall to the floor.
My arrival? My arrival where? Where does he want me to go?
Even if I knew where to go, how the hell am I meant to get there? The bloody door's locked does he expect
me to break it down, or what? There isn't even a window I can climb out of, for god's sake.
And what does he want to see me for? I don't ever want to see him again after what happened when I last
saw him.
I sigh, sitting down on my new bed, staring out into my new bedroom.

125

Well, I suppose it must be my new bedroom. It's where I woke up after I fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion
in the cupboard he locked me in.
Someone must have moved me here while I was sleeping. God knows why I didn't wake up while they were
moving me.
It could be worse, I suppose. It might be dark and dingy and old, and the tombstone-like walls aren't exactly
homely, but it's a palace compared to the cell I became used to at the Death-Eaters' headquarters. I mean, I've
got a bed, for crying out loud! Not only that, but I've got an en-suite bathroom.
An actual en-suite bathroom!
It's almost laughable, really.
I have no idea why I've been given my own room, and for now I don't care. Maybe I'll ask him one day.
Alright, so he wants me to 'make myself presentable' and to get dressed in the robes he's left for me I
assume he means that green, silky thing placed carefully over the chair by the dressing table.
But where the hell does he want me to go when I've got dressed?
Take it one step at a time. Clean yourself up first, and get changed. Then try and work out what he means.
I pad across the floor and into the black-tiled bathroom, and I turn on the taps attached to the sunken bath in
the middle of the floor. I let the bath fill with water before I turn the taps off and peel my horrible, heavy red
robe off of my body.
I sit down and slip my body into the water. It reaches my waist as my feet touch the ground. Every bruise
and cut smarts in the boiling water, but I allow myself to sink deeper, further and further until the burning
liquid reaches my neck. Perhaps if I stay in here long enough I could boil all of the guilt, all of the pain and
all of the anger out of me.
I wish I could watch them all suffer so much that they want to die.
I grab a rough looking brush and a bar of soap from the side of the bath, using them to scrub the dried blood,
sweat, and grime off of me.
I wish I could watch Bellatrix scream and writhe and beg for mercy under the cruciatus curse, over and over
and over again.
My skin flushes crab red with the heat of the water and the roughness of the brush, but I don't stop, even as
the bristles catch and snag at my cuts and grazes.
I wish I could watch Dolohov dragged naked through the streets in a sea of humiliation before he watches
his own genitals burn in front of him.
I wash my hair, furiously scratching at my scalp with my soapy fingers, before I dunk my entire body into
the boiling water, blocking out the world around me.
I wish I could see Lucius suffer. I wish I could see him lose everything. I want to see him lost in his own
despair, crying and screaming and wailing until he falls down dead out of sheer exhaustion. I wish that I'd
driven that knife right into his heart and who would give a shit because he deserves it, all of it.
I burst through the surface of the water, filling my lungs with air and wiping the dripping water away from
my face.
126

Dear God, before I die let me see Lucius Malfoy suffer. Let me laugh over him as he suffers at my feet. Oh
god, let me see him in pain, and I will be grateful forever.
I pull myself out of the bath, splashing boiling, soapy water along the tiled floor as I do so. My body is quite
literally steaming.
Amen.
I pull a towel down from the rail attached to the wall, wrapping it around me like a blanket before heading
back into my bedroom, where I dry myself off before sitting down at my dressing table.
The face that stares back at me from the mirror is barely recognizable, thanks to the huge gash across my
cheek, and the other over the bridge of my nose, the bruise on my cheekbone and the others on my jaw, my
temple, my forehead...
I sigh, and I finish drying off my hair with the towel before setting at it with a comb I find on the dressing
table. It hurts like hell my hair is so tangled it takes me what feels like an hour to work through all of it,
gradually prising knots out, ripping hairs away from my head. When I eventually finish it off I rub at it again
with the towel until it starts to frizz out around my head; a sure sign that it's nearly dry.
I go back into the bathroom, finding a toothbrush and toothpaste by the sink. It's fantastic to clean the taste
of the last few days out of my mouth. I scrub hard at my teeth and I rinse my mouth out, spitting it all out of
me - the tears, the blood and the vomit, everything I've had to taste in the last few days.
I go back into my bedroom (It's not your bedroom!) and I sit at my dressing table again.
Bastard. How does he expect me to 'make myself presentable' if I look as if I've done a couple of rounds in a
boxing ring?
Like an instant answer to that question, a bottle of clear liquid resting on the dressing table catches my eye. I
pick it up and read the label.
'For instant skin healing removes everyday bruises and cuts.'
I snort with hysterical laughter, just for a second, before I unscrew the bottle of ointment and dab it onto the
wounds on my face. It stings, but it makes the cuts heal up instantly and the bruises disappear as if they were
never there.
I sit back and take a long look at myself in the mirror. I might be clean, but it's a different girl I see in the
mirror before me than the one I'm used to. I've seen too much now. My eyes have the wild, skittish look of
someone that's becoming accustomed to living in continuous fear.
I stand up and shake out the robe he's given me so I can look at it properly.
It's really quite beautiful. I don't usually swoon over clothes, but this it really is lovely. It looks exactly
the right size; it will fit perfectly.
I don't want to wear it. Isn't there anything else I could wear?
I put it back and walk instead to the wardrobe, pulling open the heavy oak doors with a little difficulty.
I gasp out a little incredulous laugh as I rifle through the robes that fill it. Plain woolen robes all of them in
variants of brown, black, grey or green. Dirty colours.
Mud-like colours.
127

I slam the doors shut and pick up the green silky thing instead, cursing furiously under my breath all the
while as I ease the robe over my head. It falls in silky folds to the ground, completely covering my feet. I
somehow negotiate my way through the laces as the back, silently hating him with every fiber of my being
for not providing me with either underwear or shoes, bloody, bloody bastard, hate him, hate himMy gaze catches my reflection in the mirror on my dressing-table just as I'm about to do up the button at the
top of the laces down my back.
Yes, it fits perfectly. It skims over my hips but it hugs my waist and my breasts. It fits far, far too well
I squash that thought dead, because I can't afford to worry about that on top of everything else, and I do the
button up at the top of the robes
And I'm pressing into something really small, and then dissolving, disappearing, melting into thin air,
floating through nothingBlack space. Darkness. No light, no sound.
Some kind of void, maybe?
No, not a void. That cold stone floor under my feet wouldn't be present in a void, would it?
Besides, voids don't technically exist right?
But there's nothing here! Just darkness. Cold, black silence. Nothing.
Keep calm. It's a mind-trick, a sick game of his, nothing more.
I take a deep breath. The in, the out.
I walk forwards, reaching out into the darkness. Slowly, carefully, so on edge that I'm not even breathing.
Who knows what could be in here, in this place where am I?
Keep walking, step by tentative step. I force myself onwards and onwards until eventually my fingertips
touchStone. Cold stone. I breathe out, move my fingertips along and yes, it's a wall.
It's an empty room, that's all. Just an empty, dark, silent room.
I turn around and press my back into the wall, sliding down it, sinking slowly to the ground. I pull my knees
up to my chest.
Shit!
Something just moved. I heard it in the corner, something just moved!
I scramble to my feet.
'Who's there?' My voice is shaky, wobbling out of my throat into the darkness.
No answer.
There's no air in this room. I can't breathe, I can't think properly.
128

'Don't mess around with me!' I hiss.


Silence. Nothing but silence and darkness and my fear all of them strangling me, suffocating me.
It's all shattered by a drawling, cold voice the voice I hate more than anything else in the entire world.
'Don't excite yourself, Mudblood.'
A small red light shoots out from nowhere, up into the air and into what turns out to be a lantern in the
middle of the ceiling, filling the small, stone room with a dull red light.
And there he is, standing at the other side of the room with his wand raised and an awful smile on his face.
I suck in my breath. For a second, with that pale skin and that cruel smile and the red lighting, he almost
looks like Voldemort.
Although he's smiling his eyes are flinty, stony and hard. I made this personal between us, and now he wants
his revenge, oh god
Breathe. Keep your nerve. Get him talking; this silence is going to get you nowhere.
'Why are we here?'
He smiles all the wider. In this light it makes his face look like some kind of horrible carving.
'You will discover why, all in good time.' He runs his forefinger along his wand. 'Why don't you try to
exercise some patience? It's such an attractive virtue, don't you think?'
I try to breathe deeply.
'Where are we?' I ask.
He doesn't stop smirking at me. 'We are in the cellar of the house,' he drawls.
'What house?' I ask blankly. 'The house we arrived in the other day?'
'Hmm.' He nods slightly. 'The house we arrived in yesterday. It used to belong to my wife's parents. Bellatrix
came into possession of the place at their deaths, as the eldest daughter, and she has kindly allowed us to stay
here for the time being.'
'Why are we in the cellar?' I ask, my head whining with panic.
He's still smiling that sadistic smile. 'I thought it might be interesting for us to spend some time together.
When we are finished, you may return to your own room.'
'Is is Ron here, too? In the house, I mean,' I add hurriedly, because I don't want to give him any ideas.
'Yes, he's here,' he drawls. 'He arrived with Bella and Antonin about an hour after you did. He's got his own
room, just like you have, and because he came without a struggle I assume that he's quite comfortable. So
you needn't worry yourself about him.'
I breathe a tiny sigh of relief.
'But don't think that you're going to distract me by keeping me talking.'
129

Damn.
He flicks his wand at the ground in front of him, and a table and two chairs appear in the space between us.
And there's food laid out on that table so much food that it makes me feel almost sick with hunger. Huge
dishes of rich, buttery food.
He smirks at the look on my face before he goes to sit in one of the chairs.
'Would you care to eat with me, Miss Granger?'
I what?
What the hell is he doing? What kind of game is this?
His eyes narrow. 'Sit. Down.'
His voice is so quiet, and I know I should do as he says. But I don't want to sit down to eat with him either.
Who knows where that might lead?
His lip curls up in anger and in a few strides he's got me by the arm and he twists it up, dragging me to my
chair and forcing me down into it before returning to his own.
'That's better.' He returns to his chair and pours some wine out into two silver goblets, handing one goblet
over to me before raising his own.
'To the Dark Lord.'
He raises his drink to his lips without taking his eyes away from my face.
I fling my own goblet across the room. It hits the wall with a hollow 'clunk', and the blood-red liquid runs
down the stone as the goblet clatters on the floor.
He doesn't even flinch. He just smiles as he summons the goblet back to the table and fills it with wine once
again.
Then he raises his wand at me.
'Imperio!'
Ahh, that's better. Nothing, nothingness, oh it's so lovely and warm in nothingness.
'Lift up the goblet.'
Do as it says, why should I doubt it, oh yes, I'll do anything for that voice, anything, anything.
'Say the words'
Why?
'Say the words!'
But'Say them!'
130

Oh, anything for you, anything. Just keep me here in this warmth, and I'll do anything to please you.
'To the Dark Lord.'
'Good. Now sip the wine.'
Oh yes, yes. I'll do anything and everything for you. Only for you
Just keep me here with you don't leave me
The curse seeps away from me. I can taste the acidity of the wine on my tongue.
He's smiling at me now. I've done what he wants, and he's enjoying every last bit of watching me squirm
under the knowledge that I've just toasted Voldemort.
'Please,' he gestures to the food in front of us, 'eat.'
Although every instinct I have cries out for me to eat everything I can, I fight against it. I'm not going to play
his sick little games with him.
I press my lips together and look down at my hands clasped tight in my lap.
'Oh dear.' He sighs heavily, exaggeratedly. 'If there's one thing I can't stand in a Mudblood, it's bad manners.
Perhaps you need a little more persuasion.'
'No,' I say hurriedly. 'N-no, I'll I'll eat.'
I lift the goblet of wine to my lips and I pour the burning liquid down my throat so quickly that some of it
rolls in drips down my chin. I wipe my chin clean before I slam the empty goblet back on to the table.
I spoon some food out onto my plate, eating quickly. It's been so long since I've eaten, and even though I'm
only doing it to save myself from any unnecessary pain I feel like I could eat and eat forever to make up for
how little I've eaten since my capture.
He's not eating anything. He's just watching me, silently.
I pause mid-chew, swallow, and lower my fork onto my plate.
He's smiling at me; a twisted, joyless smile. 'Finished?'
Wordlessly, I nod.
He stands up and waves his wand, and the table, the food, the wine and his chair all disappear, leaving only
the chair I am sitting on.
Don't panic. You mustn't panic.
He walks over to me, slowly, and he puts a hand on each of the arms of my chair, leaning over to me, coming
far too close and smiling down into my face. I lean back in my chair impulsively.
'Did you enjoy your meal, Mudblood?'
I stare right back at him, pressing my lips together tight clamped shut to keep myself steady.
I'm not afraid of you!
131

Liar.
'What are you doing?' I don't know what else to say.
He smirks at that and steps back, walking around me, behind my chair. I stay still, keeping my head faced
forward. The hairs on the back of my neck prickle up.
'That wasn't an answer to my question, was it?'
His hand snakes up under my hair and brushes onto the back of my neck.
It's warm.
My breath catches in my throat.
What what is he?
His fingers dig into the side of my neck and I turn my head involuntarily towards him as he crouches down
next to me so that our eyes are level. He smiles at me still. 'I want you to tell me whether you enjoyed your
meal.'
Okay. Alright. No harm in the only real answer I can give, right?
'Yes.'
That tiny answer seems enough for him. He doesn't stop smiling, anyway. A small, smug smile.
'Good. I shall be sure to let the house-elves know how much you enjoyed the meal they cooked for you.'
I gulp down my exclamation of rage, but he can read my expression well enough.
'Ah, that upsets you, doesn't it? But you should be pleased. The house-elves were happy to cook for us. You
see, they know their place.' A hard, cold look creeps into his eyes and he stands up, coolly removing his hand
from my neck, and it's only then that I realise that I was holding my breath. 'Why don't you know yours,
Miss Granger? You have more intelligence than an elf, surely.'
Oh. So this is why he's brought me here.
'I think it's time that you learned more of your station,' his voice is quiet, so quiet, almost whispering, 'since
you seem to be so reluctant to accept it.'
So this will be his revenge, then. It seems that now he's got the business of getting the information he needs
out of me, he can really let himself have some fun.
'Stand up.'
I do as he says, and he flicks his wand at the chair I was just sitting on. It disappears into the ground.
'I want you to answer some questions for me.' He smiles at the look on my face. 'Oh, don't worry. They're
quite different to the questions I have asked you so far. These questions are of a far more subtle nature, but
no less important, I think.'
I take a deep breath, feeling my nerves knot and tangle through my body.
'Who are your parents, Miss Granger?'
132

What?
I just stare at him uncomprehendingly. 'Do you really think that I'm going to lead you right to them?'
He rolls his eyes. 'Use your brain for once, Mudblood. If we had any need of your parents, do you really
think that we wouldn't have got hold of them by now? Their names and their address did come up while we
were tracking you down.'
Breathe, Hermione.
What he's saying makes sense, but I don't understand why he's asking me this!
'If you already know everything there is to know about my parents, then why do you need me to name them
for you?'
He twirls his wand leisurely between his fingers, his eyes not leaving my face. 'I don't believe that was the
answer to the question I asked. I repeat, who are your parents?'
'David and Jane Granger.'
A sharp slap stings across my cheek. But he hasn't touched me, oh no. Is he ever going to get tired of that
little trick?
'Wrong answer.' He really is smiling. Oh, he can enjoy himself with me now. 'Again, who are your parents?'
What does he want from me? What the hell does he want?
'I've told you, David and Ja-'
That sharp sting hits my cheek again before I can even finish speaking.
'Oh dear. And there was I, believing you to be reasonably intelligent. Shall I make it easier for you to
understand what I'm asking you for? Who are you?'
Answer him calmly. Keep yourself composed. Don't let him mess with your mind.
'Hermione Granger.'
He sighs in pure exasperation. 'Muggles have no sense of subtlety. You leave me no choice but to make my
meaning plain. What are you?'
The seed of understanding is planted in my mind.
I straighten myself up, lifting myself from the head downwards.
'A witch.'
Wrong answer.
He smiles and flicks his wand at me, and a tongue of flame licks up my back - a burning, scorching, white
hot mercury flame.
'You know full well that is the incorrect answer. You see before you a wizard; one whose power was handed
down to him by blood. You, you are a muggle, a muggle that has been given a wand. There is a world of
133

difference between the two of us, Mudblood, and so I would ask you not to put us in the same category. I
repeat, what are you?'
God, this is going to be hard. This really is personal now; he's giving up his free time to teach me a lesson.
I need to be strong.
'A witch.'
He doesn't curse me, like I expect him to. He just looks at me intently, letting his eyes run up and down my
body, just for a second.
'Did you wonder why I got you to wear those robes?'
He waves his wand, and a huge, full length, ornate mirror appears on the wall in front of me.
'Look at yourself.'
My mind flashes back to a few days ago.
'Look at yourself hardly a beauty, are you?'
Those words are going to be burned into my brain for the rest of my life. What's he going to do to me this
time?
Our two reflections look back at us from the mirror. His sneering and cold. Mine pale and terrified.
He drops his eyes from the mirror and takes hold of my hand. I jump slightly, and he smirks as he brings my
hand up and examines the burns and bruises on it.
'You have always been a disobedient girl. To tell the truth, I've never come across someone so infuriating. I
had hoped to be finished with you as soon as possible, but fate has proved cruel, wouldn't you agree?'
I don't answer him. I'm too focused on his fingers moving over my hand, lightly brushing my skin. He rubs
his thumb over the pink, shiny burn scar in the middle of my hand, and then his fingers move up over my
wrist, and then there's the barrier of fabric between us as he moves them over the dress sleeve, up my arm
and eventually onto my bare shoulder, grazing bare skin with his fingers.
'I was right to choose this dress for you, I think.' His voice is quiet, too quiet, and he stands behind me,
looking intently at the reflection in the mirror again, his fingers resting lightly on my bare shoulder. 'The
colour suits you well. The fit'
He trails off then, his words disappearing into the air. And his hand moves from my shoulder. I feel it
through the fabric as it shifts down my back and onto my waist, his fingers snaking around it and resting
there, just for a second. Only one second, but a lifetime too long.
'But you're probably wondering why I chose such a dress for you.' I start then, because his voice is suddenly
cold and clipped again, and he quickly removes his hand from my waist. 'I chose it so that you would see
how utterly inappropriate a robe such as this is for you. You're a muggle worse than a muggle, you're a
Mudblood. You should not be wearing a witch's garment.'
He twists his arm holding the wand around me and makes a swift tearing motion down the middle of my
body.
I look down.
134

My dress is torn clean in half.


'What are you doing?'
I pull the two sheets of material close around me, but his hand knots itself into my hair and twists, and he
wrenches me upwards before grabbing at my arms and pinning them behind my back.
No no no no NO!
'Stop it, please, stop it-'
'Kindly shut up, Mudblood. Your incessant whining really does grate after a while.'
God, shit, what's he going to do? I never thought he would I thought he wouldn't ever want to
He pulls the dress off of me, and he pins my arms behind my back again so I can't keep hidden, not at all. He
holds up the beautiful fabric in front of me.
'These are robes made for a witch.' His voice pulls tears up to my eyes. 'You are a muggle. You're lower than
a house-elf. You are not worthy to wear such clothes.'
He throws the bundle of green across the room, then he throws me on the ground in front of him. I cower on
the ground, curling myself up into a ball. I want to go home, I want my mum and dad, I want to be left alone.
He crouches down next to me and rolls me viciously onto my back, pinning my arms to the ground. I kick
out at him, but he pins his knee down on my thighs. And I start to cry then, really cry out of fear.
'Good god, it makes me sick,' he mutters, looking me up and down.
Shut up! I hate him so much I hope that he dies right here, right now.
'What are you doing?' Tears leak out of the corners of my eyes and roll into my hair.
He slaps me across the face. 'I don't believe I asked you to speak,' he hisses. 'But seeing as you asked, I
would remind you of what I told you once before. I am willing to commit any amount of distasteful acts in
order to get my way. I will do anything to serve my cause.'
'Please, don't-'
He slaps me across the face, on the other cheek this time. 'Damn you, you will speak when spoken to!' He
points his wand into my face. 'What are you?'
I don't answer. I'm so terrified that I can't speak, anyway.
He snarls in rage as I press my lips together and he slaps me across the face once again, before he gets up
thank god, thank god, and points his wand at the floor, where a small pile of brown material appears.
'Get up and get dressed,' he snarls at me.
I wrench myself up and I grab at the material that turns out to be a plain brown linen robe. I pull it on
quickly, so grateful not to be naked in front of him any longer. I curl myself up, hugging my knees to my
chest and I'm still terrified, because I really thought then that he would'Get up!'
135

I pull myself hastily to my feet at his command, looking down at my feet.


Hate hate hate.
'You shall find similar garments in your wardrobe.' He grips at my chin, wrenching my head up so that I have
to look into that cruel, pale, evil face. 'You will dress according to your station, do you understand?'
I don't answer, because I know that if I do my voice will crack and I won't give him that satisfaction.
Hate, hate, hate.
His fingers dig in under my chin, pulling me closer to him.
'I said, do you understand?'
'Yes.' I feel my face collapse into tears as I answer. Hate hate hate hate hate!
He smiles and releases me. 'Good.'
He waves his wand at the mirror, which disappears into the floor.
I press my lips together and try not make a single sound.
'I ask you again, what are you?'
Hate.
Hate.
HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE!
'I'll tell you what you are! An evil, twisted bastard!' I scream, and as soon as I do I lift up into the air and I
fly backwards, slamming into the wall behind me. Pain shoots through me, crushing all of my back, and I
fall to the floor, gasping in agony.
'I don't understand how one could be so stubborn.' He's walking over to me, coming close, too bloody close.
'And I certainly don't understand your lack of common courtesy.'
I can't believe he just said that.
'Was I not kind enough to give you a wonderful meal?' he goes on, ignoring my glare of absolute loathing.
'We ate together in a civilized manner, did we not? I almost thought you might be exercising some
compliance, or at least some good manners.'
He points his wand at me.
'It was food you didn't deserve. It was too good for the likes of you. And seeing as you aren't even grateful
for it, I don't see why you should have eaten it in the first place.'
He steps back from me, and a jet of orange light hits me in the stomach...
And my gut is spinning and squelching and oh no, not again! Acid burns up through my chest and out of my
contracting throat and I vomit all over the floor. All the food I just ate with him all comes spilling out of me
onto the ground.
136

I crouch on the floor, heaving deep breaths once I've finished. He points his wand at the vomit, which once
again vanishes like it was never there.
He conjures up a glass of water in his free hand, which he holds out to me.
'Unlike you, Mudblood, I am not without courtesy. Drink this.'
I want to throw it back in his horrible, smug face, but I don't. I drink it down, feeling the cool, clear water
wash out my mouth and chest, and when I've finished the glass disappears from my hand and I'm left holding
nothing but air.
'Stand up.'
I do as he says, shakily getting to my feet and looking him in the eye with as much dignity as I can muster.
'What are you?'
Oh, for god's sake, is it really worth it? What's the point, really? This could go on forever, if I don't give him
what he wants.
Then let it go on forever. You promised; you swore to yourself that you wouldn't let him win.
I gather up whatever pride I have left and I answer him.
'You seem very slow to grasp what I'm saying.' I breathe a laugh. 'And you call me stupid?'
A muscle goes in his jaw at that, but I don't stop.
'I am a witch, and there's nothing you can say or do to change it. I'm sorry if you've been told differently
your whole life, but that's just the way it is. Just because I'm muggle-born doesn't make me less magical than
you.'
There's a long silence while he just looks at me. Then he conjures up a knife out of thin air, catching it
lightly by the handle.
I gulp as he turns the blade idly in his hands.
'Ah, such a dangerous instrument in the wrong hands.' He looks up and smiles, shark-like. 'But then, you
would know all about that, wouldn't you?'
God, he is never going to let that go. He is going to keep on using that as an excuse to hurt me, over and over
again.
I wish I'd never done it. Either that, or I wish I'd slammed the knife into his neck rather than just into his
arm.
His arm. What was I thinking?
He steps towards me. 'You're a witch, you say. Tell me, would you give your life for that idea?'
'Of course.' I say, my breathing very tight in my chest.
'Of course.' His voice is so low, too low. I recognize that tone of voice. He lifts up the knife, and presses the
blade to my cheek. 'Any witch would do the same thing you won't be the last, and you're certainly not the
first. But then, as a muggle-born you would know that better than most, wouldn't you?'
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I frown at him. 'What are you talking about?'


His smile flickers. 'I am talking about the persecution that my ancestors suffered at the hands of yours. I'll
say one thing for muggles stupid they may be, but they were certainly inventive when it came to the
delicate art of murder. They had quite a selection of torturous methods which they could use to dispose of
witches and wizards. I imagine it was quite a game for them which technique should they choose this
time? Drowning, or strangulation? The noose, or the fire?'
I swallow. 'They were different times. I can't be blamed for what my ancestors may have done to yours in
their ignorance-'
'That's neither here nor there,' he snaps, his smile disappearing utterly. 'The fact remains that, in their
stupidity and ignorance and pride, muggles such as your filthy parents sent thousands of witches and wizards
to an agonizing death. And you then have the nerve to pollute our society with your offspring a few
generations down the line! Tell me - do you know how long it takes to burn to death? Have you ever smelt
burning flesh?'
My mouth is numb and dry. I can't speak. I just stutter in dumb terror. The knife is about to tear my skin, I
swear to god'They thought they were saving them,' is what I say eventually. 'They were uninformed back then they
didn't know any better. Their religion told them that the only way to save the soul of a witch was to burn
them alive, and yes, they were wrong, but they genuinely believed it-'
'Oh, and I'm sure their victims would be so grateful for that as their legs burned away underneath them,' he
drawls in vicious triumph. 'I'm sure they thought only of their murderer's good intentions as they begged
their families to pile tinder on their pyres so that they might die quicker.'
I glare at him, hating him. 'Don't you dare use real human suffering as a cheap way to prove a point to me-'
'I'll do whatever I like. I'm sure they wouldn't blame me. It wasn't my ancestors that murdered them, was it?'
he fires back.
I take a second to get my breath back. My heartbeat is roaring in my ears. 'What do you want from me? Do
you want me to burn alive too, so that I can prove my self-belief to you?'
He raises an eyebrow. 'Would you do it?'
For a moment, I'm speechless with utter disbelief.
He smiles. 'Well, perhaps the burning example is a little extreme.'
He runs the blade of the knife slowly down my cheek. The pressure is light on my skin; not strong enough to
cut or even to hurt, but calculated just to tingle as it skims over my skin. Almost not touching. Almost.
'But would you be willing to die for the absurd notion that you might be a witch? If it were to be a painless
death, would you do it? To die for one's belief the ultimate act of nobility. Every Gryffindor's fantasy, I
imagine.'
I don't answer him, because he doesn't expect me to and because my breath is caught in my throat and I don't
know whether I could even if I tried.
I feel the blade run down over my collarbone.
'Do you not fear death then, Mudblood?'
138

I swallow sharply. The knife shakes over the furious slamming of my heartbeat.
'Everyone dies.' My voice wavers in the air with absolutely no certainty at all.
'Indeed.' He's smirking at me. 'Who knows that better than I? I have been willing to give my life for what I
believe in since I was old enough to talk. But I wonder - are you really prepared to do the same? Or is it
really you who is the coward here?'
He curls his fingers around my wrist, bringing it up between us. He takes the knife away from my chest,
trapping it between his thumb and his palm as he runs his fingers over my hand, trailing them delicately over
my skin, the burn scar, and the bruises around my fingers.
'This poor little hand has been through so much since we first met,' he murmurs. 'It almost breaks my heart to
cause it yet more harm. But you will insist on pushing me too far.'
I realize too late what he's going to do as he presses the knife vertically against my wrist, tearing the skin,
opening it, and blood spills out of the wound and down my wrists. I give a tiny yell of pain, and he draws the
blade down the delicate blue vein, and it hurts, oh like nothing on earth it hurts, and there's blood, too much
blood, too muchBlood runs red and warm over my wrists. Perhaps I could yes, press down on the wound, grip at it, stop
the blood, the endless blood.
'What do you want? What do you WANT from me?'
'I want you to admit what you are,' he drawls, not caring, never caring. I could die and he wouldn't care.
Say it, you know what he wants, just say it!
I WON'T say it!
'I'm a witch!'
His eyes flash with anger and he wrenches my other hand towards him, drawing the blade down the other
vein, digging deep this time, ripping into flesh, gouging into it.
Hurts doesn't describe this. They'd need a whole new dictionary to describe this.
'You'll die unless you admit what you are. And despite your protestations, I don't believe you're quite willing
to go that far. So admit it. Tell me what you are.'
I don't want to die.
That thought pierces me through everything else. I don't want to die. I know they'll kill me in the end, but
while I'm alive I've still got hope. And that is worth everything.
Besides, it doesn't matter, not really. Just to say it won't make it true, will it?
Will it?
'I'm a Mudblood.' I whimper the words out, holding my wrists together to stop the blood flow.
He smiles widely at that, and prizes my arms apart so that the blood runs free and unhindered down my
arms.
139

'And what else, Miss Granger, what else?'


I've got to go further. Give him what he wants. What else does he call me?
'A throwback. A freak. A Muggle masquerading as a witch.'
He smiles all the wider, an evil grin like none other I've ever seen, and he picks up each of my wrists and oh
my god, even to move them feels like hell itselfBut then that wonderful, warm golden glow of healing beams from his wand to my wrist, and the bloodflow stops.
But the scars remain. Thick, pink scars run down the veins of my wrists.
'I think we'll leave those.' He runs his finger lightly along one of the scars before he drops my hand. 'A nice
little reminder for you should you ever forget your place again, no?'
Bastard. What are people going to think when they see these scars?
He's looking deep into my eyes. The invisible hand of legimilency probes around in my mind again very
briefly before it withdraws.
'Did I hear that correctly?' He smiles then, a smile that doesn't reach those icy cold eyes. 'Who, exactly, do
you think is going to see your scars? Who are you afraid of upsetting? You're never going to get out of here.'
That smile leaves his face and he wrenches me close to him suddenly by the hair, locking his eyes onto mine,
and too close, far too close, holding the bloody knife up to my cheek. 'You're going to die here, don't you
understand?'
I'm going to die here. Here in this house that belonged to Bellatrix's parents. Here in this cave under the hill
on the lake. And Ron will die along with me, and it's all my fault. No-one's coming to save us, and nothing
can help us.
I feel myself rip in half down the middle and fuck it; I just want it all to be over!
'Then what are you waiting for?' I grab the hand holding the knife and wrench it down to my chest. 'Why
don't you just kill me, right here, right now? That's what you want, isn't it?'
His eyes flash then before he wrenches the blade away from my skin.
'Tempting though that idea is, I'm afraid I cannot pursue it. I'm we're not finished with you yet. We have
plans for you.'
'What plans?' I push down the panic that fills my chest. 'What else could you need me for?'
'That's not yet your concern.' He flicks his wand at the knife in his hand and it disappears into thin air. 'Now,
to get back to the matter in hand, tell me who your parents are.'
Sod this! If I'm going to die here, I'm not going to let him toy with me before that happens.
'David and Jane Granger.'
'No!' He shouts out his reply before slapping me across the face. Hard. My head snaps to the side and I cling
to my cheek, gulping down the traitorous tears that are burning under my eyelids.
'Why are you doing this to me?' I ask quietly, looking back up into that face that's carved of ice.
140

He just sneers at me. 'I believe you know why,' he drawls. 'Did you really think that I was going to let you
get away with your behavior yesterday evening?'
Anger hits me so hard I think I'm going to be sick again.
'Do you think that what I did even compares to what you've put me through? Do you?' I let the words fly out
of my mouth. I want them to hurt him. To cut deep, to make him bleed. 'I'd be ecstatic if one stab wound was
all you'd done to me since I came here.'
'It's not the wound that bothers me.' His face is set hard in anger. 'I've endured far worse than that petty little
attempt at violence.'
I almost want to smile. Almost. He can pretend all he likes, but I saw the look of pain on his face as clear as
day as the knife plunged into his arm.
'No, it was the sheer audacity of it,' he continues, his voice rising. 'A muggle committing violence against
me! And it wasn't the first time, either. Remember when you slapped my face, back in your cell? What right
have you to raise a hand to me?'
'WHAT RIGHT HAVE YOU TO DO IT TO ME?' I'm blazing on now. I just don't care anymore. I've passed
that point. 'And Ron, what about him? He's pure-blood; I would have thought that would mean something to
you. You said once that you reserved torture for muggle-borns, so why did you have to hurt him?'
He opens his mouth to answer, and I can see words forming on his lips before he stops himself. He takes a
deep breath before he eventually answers me.
'The boy comes from a family of blood traitors. Besides, his unspeakable stupidity irritates me beyond
belief.'
Shut up! You horrible, vile bastard, what do you know about him?
He strokes the tips of his fingers lightly down my cheek, a mocking smile playing about his lips. 'I really
don't know what you see in him. You have got a basic intelligence about you, at least. Why you would want
to waste yourself on that boy, I'll never know.'
That's it. I snap.
'So who would you suggest I 'waste myself' on then? Someone like you, is that what you're getting at?'
His hand drops abruptly from my face and I clamp my mouth shut before I can say any more.
What did I say that for?
I I don't know.
The look on his face terrifies me half to death. It's pure and utter rage, unlike anything I've ever seen on him
before.
I start to babble, frantically trying to undo the damage I have done. 'I'm sorry, I didn't mean-'
His fingers press onto my lips, stopping my words dead.
He's smiling now. Just smiling a small smile, his eyebrows lowered in an expression that's just as dangerous
as his rage.
141

'Be quiet,' he murmurs as he lowers his fingers from my lips and circles his other hand around my waist. 'Be
quiet, my little Mudblood.' His hand grows firmer around my waist, his fingers warm through the robe on
my back. 'Now-'
He pulls me closer to him in one sharp movement.
NoI turn to get away from him but he holds on to me, pushing me backwards into the wall before I even have
time to breathe.
I'm trapped, trapped between him and the cold stone.
Between a rock and a hard place
That would have made me laugh, once.
He looks down at me with that dangerous, languid look on his face, but there's something cold and hard in
his eyes, and I don't like it, I don't.
'Please, I'm sorry-'
'Shh.' He places his free hand lightly on my cheek, pushing his fingers back into my hair.
'Now, as to what you were saying before'
His voice is low, far too low. He pulls my hips up to meet his, and my insides lock as his fingers entwine in
my hair, far too close, and oh god, what have I done, where's this going to lead? I thought that I was safe
from this, at least.
But did you, really?
I I don't know.
I suppose I should have realized that this is how it would end up. He has complete power over me in every
other way
In every way except this.
His fingers push further into my hair, and there's nothing in this world except him, pressing me to the stone.
My hands, balled up into fists, are pressed to his chest. I see nothing except his face, his pale, aristocratic
face, his smirking mouth and his cold grey eyes under lowered eyelids.
And he's moving his face closer to mine, closer, and I can't breathe
Can't think
Just close my eyes
Then his fingers tighten on my hair and wrench my head sideways, pulling it back and slamming it into the
wall.
My head smashes, breaks into a million pieces and shit, FUCK, it hurts so badly I can't think, ow ow
ohmyfuckinggod ow!
142

He is relentless. He doesn't even release my head from the wall as he whispers furiously in my ear.
'How dare you suggest that I would even contemplate such a thing? Do you really think that I'd dirty my
hands on any Mudblood, let alone you you! Good god, just look at yourself! I'd sooner throw myself off a
cliff than touch filth like you. Do you understand me?'
I whimper slightly, tears of pain, rage and humiliation flipping out of my eyes, and I can barely speak for
pain, let alone answer him. He presses himself closer to me, his grip on my hair tightening, pulling a small
cry from my throat.
'I said, do you understand?'
'Yes,' I whisper, and my complete and utter humiliation is now complete.
I watch him out of the corner of my eye, and for a moment he looks as if he's going to hit me again, but
instead he releases me, stepping back from my body and removing his hand from my hair. I slide down to
the floor, completely lost in my own mortification.
He turns away from me, running a hand over the back of his sleek, blond head and I can't see his face, his
expression.
But when he turns back to face me his expression gives nothing away and his voice is cool and clipped
again.
'Now, let us return to the subject at hand, shall we.'

'Who are you?' he asks, hours and hours later.


'A Mudblood.' My voice is robotic. 'A throwback. A freak. A Muggle masquerading as a Witch.'
'Who are your parents?'
'Filthy Muggles.' Tears come to my eyes as my lips work around the words, but I won't let those tears fall in
front off him.
'Who is your master?'
'Voldemort.' He can go to hell if he thinks I'll cry in front of him ever, ever again.
'I'm sorry?'
I take a deep breath, and my ribs twinge as a reminder of another little trick he pulled to make me accept
this.
'The Dark Lord.'
'Who should you obey?'
'My betters.' My tears harden and coil up inside me, and I'll never let him see them again, never.
'And who are your betters?'
This is it. Just a few more words and it will all be over. 'Those of pure blood.'
143

It's over. God, it's taken forever, but it's finally over.
He's smiling. I think it might be one of the few genuine smiles I've seen on the bastard's face. 'I knew that
your will could be broken.' His voice is so, so soft as he smirks at me. 'And it seems that I was right, wasn't
I?'
I feel dead.
Dear God, let me see Lucius Malfoy suffer. Let me see him cry and scream and beg for mercy
'Aren't you going to answer me, Mudblood?' he drawls. 'Was I right? Has your will been broken?'
I answer through clenched teeth. 'Yes.'
Let me see him die
He smiles all the wider, feeding off of my hate and shame. 'Good.'
He steps back from me and points his wand at the floor, conjuring up a bowl of soup, a chunk of bread, and a
goblet of water.
'Please, help yourself. You must be hungry.'
Go to hell.
Hell's too good for him. It'd probably spit him back out if he got there.
'And when you have finished, you can go to sleep. I think it might do you some good to stay here for a
while. I'm not quite finished with you yet. I want to make sure that the message really sinks in.'
So it's not over. It will never, ever be over.
He runs a finger down my cheek. I flinch away from him. He smirks.
'I regret that I cannot stay here with you for now, but I have some important business to attend to. In the
meantime, I wish you pleasant dreams.'
He reaches into his robes and pulls out a tiny key.
'The Great Hall.'
As soon as he says the words the key lights up bright red, and the last thing I see is his face smirking at me
before he vanishes into thin air.
I sink to the floor slowly, so slowly.
Oh god, let me see him suffer, and I will be grateful for all eternity. Amen.
How dare he? How how bloody dare he? I hate him, with his fucking pureblood mania and selfrighteousness and smug attitude, the bastard, the utter, utter bastardI pick up the tray of food and I throw it across the room. It smashes into the wall and falls to the floor with
an almighty clatter, the water spreading across the ground as the empty goblet rolls across the floor.
144

I stare blankly at the ground, wanting more than anything for the light to go away and for darkness to
swallow me whole.
9. Intermission
'How beautiful you are! You are more beautiful in anger than in repose. I don't ask you for your love; give
me yourself and your hatred; give me yourself and that pretty rage; give me yourself and that enchanting
scorn; it will be enough for me.' - Charles Dickens, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are currently experiencing technical difficulties. We apologise for any
inconvenience, and hope to resume normal service as soon as possible.

Screams. Screaming, ripping through my brain, pounding in my ears, the screams of souls trapped in the
deepest depths of hell - and the worst noise in the world the screams of children, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry,
sorrysorrysorry laughter - a horrible, low, mocking chuckle I know too well and then it changes. High.
Wild. Cold. Voldemort, no no nononono don't make me, I can't, I've lost everything, Lucius has taken
everything, how can you ask this of me now? Ron's voice, 'Don't lie to me.' He doesn't understand screams
of children fade, but Voldemort's laughter grows wilder, louder, please, it wasn't my fault, I didn't want this,
don't make me, I can't, won't, MudbloodMudblood, 'Hermione!' Mudblood'NO!'
I bolt upwards, shivering and shaking with tears streaming down my face, and I can't breathe, I can't
Please don't make me choose!
Hands grip at my shoulders. I hit at them, pushing them away from me, and oh, what's happening?
'Hermione, it's me!'
I stop, looking at the face in front of me. It swims into view, slowly, and everything becomes clear, crystal
clear, and my heart bursts as I finally see the face in front of me.
'Oh god, Ron!'
I throw my arms around his neck, and he holds me closely to him, pressing his lips shakily to my forehead as
I breathe deeply, pulling myself together. A nightmare, that's all. A stupid nightmare.
'It's okay, Hermione.'
I give a huge sigh, pushing all the horror of the nightmare out of me. I pull away from him to look at him,
putting my hands to his face and running my fingers over his long nose, his thin cheeks, and the cuts and
bruises that rest there.
'Are you better now?' he asks.
I drop my hands from his face, feeling very stupid. 'Yes. It was just a nightmare, that's all.' I look around me
for a second, pulling myself into the here and now. I'm still in that tiny stone room, but there's light now.
Dark red light. And it's empty, mercifully, except for me and Ron.
He grips onto my arm and gives it a tiny squeeze of reassurance. It's such a sweet, simple, Ron-ish gesture
that I burst into tears.
145

'What's the matter?' he asks, with panic in his voice. 'What's happened?'
I put my face in my hands. 'I'm so sorry, Ron.'
'Why are you sorry?'
The tears come thicker and faster then, running over my fingers.
'I'm s-sorry for everything.' The words tumble out of me in sobs. 'I'm sorry that I l-let them capture me. I'm ssorry that I gave you away, and Harry. I'm sorry that they t-tortured you to g-get to me. I'm s-sorry I cut off
your th-thumb-'
I start to sob so heavily that I can't speak. I press my fingers to my eyes, willing the tears to stop, but they
just keep on coming.
He pulls my hands away from my face. 'Listen to me,' he says firmly. 'You've got nothing to be sorry for. My
thumb's fine, see?' He holds it up and waggles it around to demonstrate, and I let out a tiny giggle. 'They
used Imperius on you. What else could you have done? And did you choose for them to torture me to get to
you?'
I shake my head weakly.
'Exactly.' He rubs at my arm gently. 'And don't feel bad about giving me and Harry away to them, either. I
know what they must have done to get you to talk. God knows, they forced me to tell them enough.'
I nod. 'He they told me that they tortured you to get you to talk.'
He nods back. 'And I couldn't hold out against it any more than you could. I've told them things'
He trails off, and I know that he's suffering with as much guilt as I am. They could have got him to give
away anything about his family, or Harry, or the Order.
I grip at his hand. 'You couldn't help what you did, Ron,' I say quietly. 'No human being could hold out
against that sort of pain. I know they did the same to me.'
Funny that you can reassure him easily enough but you can't do the same for yourself.
He smiles a small, bitter smile.
It's then that I notice how different he looks. I think it's in his eyes, but there's a darkness in them that
wasn't there before we were captured. It's like the sparkle has gone out of them. It almost makes him look
like a different person.
But then, I suppose that I'm a completely different girl from the one I was before all this happened. Neither
of us are ever going to be the same again.
But then he smiles and brushes my tears away with his thumb, and I realize that maybe we haven't changed,
not really.
'Who brought you down here?' I ask.
'No-one did,' he says. 'I just woke up in the bedroom they've given me and I found a note with my plate of
food. It had this ring on top of it.' He holds up his hand to show me that he's wearing a tiny silver band on his
ring finger. 'The note said that if I wanted to see you I had to put this ring on, so I did, and it sort of
transported me here.'
146

I nod. 'Did the note say who had written it?' I ask.
He shakes his head, but I know who wrote that note, of course I do.
Why is he letting Ron visit me?
'Are they keeping you in here?' he asks indignantly, looking around the room. 'God, even I've got my own
bedroom!'
'No, I don't think I'll be here for long,' I say reassuringly. 'I had my own room at first, but but Malfoy, he
just said he wants to keep me here for the time being.'
Ron's face darkens. 'What for?'
'He didn't say,' I reply, because I don't want to tell him what's really going on. I don't want him to have to
worry about what's happening to me, on top of everything else.
I hate how I have to lie to my best friend because of Lucius bloody Malfoy.
'I'm sure it's not anything bad, though,' I say hurriedly, because his ears are turning red that old danger sign
with him. 'I won't be here for long, he's said so. I think he just wants to try and mess with my mind by
shutting me alone in here for a while. But it's nothing I can't cope with, so don't worry.'
'Bastard,' he mutters. 'What does he want from you now?'
'He didn't say,' I reply. I could tell him what's really going on, but what's the point in letting him worry any
more than he has to? 'I think he just wants to teach me some 'obedience', that's all I was a bit rude to him
when we first arrived here. It's nothing I can't handle, really. I've hardly seen him since we arrived here.'
'Bastard,' he says again, his lips set in a thin line.
I rub at his arm in what I hope is a comforting gesture. 'Have you got your own room too, then?' I ask
tentatively, trying to change the subject.
He allows himself a tiny, reluctant grin. 'Yeah. It's quite good, actually, compared with the cells we had
before.'
I grin back at him. 'Ah, but do you have a dressing-table, a wardrobe, your very own en-suite bathroom, like
I do?'
He laughs then, and I laugh with him. It feels good to smile to really smile. 'Oh yeah,' he says. 'In fact, I
have more!'
I gasp mockingly. 'Pray tell, what do you have?'
'A rug,' he says, and that sends us into giggles again.
He scoots up next to me and the pair of us sit with our backs against the wall. I rest my head on his shoulder
and he runs his fingers gently over my hair.
What was that?
My eyes shift for a second to the corner of the room. I could have sworn I heard
Nothing. It's a very old house. It's shifting itself, that's all.
147

I close my eyes, savouring this moment with Ron because I know that it won't last long.
'What happened when they arrived at the Burrow?' I ask after a while. I need to know exactly what
happened. I need to get it clear in my mind the result of my betrayal.
Self-flallegation it might be, but I deserve it, don't I?
Ron takes a deep breath. 'We were all in the living-room, trying to work out how to rescue you. Tonks was
there, and so was Lupin, and a few others from the Order. Most of them were trying to convince us to give
up. They said that you were probably dead already. But me and Harry well, we wouldn't accept it. We
weren't going to give up on you.'
My stomach flips with love for them both.
'Anyway, Ginny came bursting in and told us that there were Death-Eaters coming towards the house. Me
and Harry got ready to fight, but Tonks stunned him before he could do anything.'
I let my breath out in a low whistle. 'What did she do that for?'
'She said there was no point in the Chosen One risking his life if he wasn't fully prepared to face Voldemort.
She dragged him to the fire-place and used the Floo network to get him out of there. I don't know where she
took him.'
I shake my head. 'God, Harry's going to be so pissed off with her.'
'I know,' Ron says quietly.
'It was clever of her, though.' I smile to myself I always liked Tonks.
'Yeah.' There's a sadness in his voice. Neither of us say what we're both thinking that we're never going to
see Tonks again, and we wish we'd got to know her properly when we'd had the chance. Ron shakes his
head. 'Anyway, by the time the pair of them had got out of there the Death-Eaters were breaking down the
door. Mum grabbed Ginny and Apparated, but the rest of us stayed to fight. Dad tried to convince me to
Apparate out of there, but I wouldn't go.'
I lift my head up to look at him. 'Why didn't you leave when you had the chance?'
He smiles sadly. 'I couldn't give up on you, Hermione. I knew that the Death-Eaters had taken you.'
My stomach is completely empty. Everything's my fault, all of it. He'd be at home with his family if it wasn't
for me.
I really am going to cry. I sniff and smile back at him, trying to harden my tears inside of me, because what
good will they do now? I take hold of his hand and grip at it hard.
'Hermione?' He's got a tentative note in his voice. 'Malfoy, he I mean, I know that he was given charge
over you at first. He told me when they first came to question me. But, well, I mean'
I feel my heart tie itself in a knot.
'He' Ron goes slightly pink as he tries to voice himself. 'When they tried to get me to speak, I wouldn't tell
them anything at first. But then he' He presses his lips together.
'What did he do, Ron?'
148

He looks me straight in the eye then, and I see such anger and fear there that for a moment he doesn't look
like Ron Weasley at all.
'He told me that if I didn't give them what they wanted, then' He takes a deep breath and lets it out again.
'He said he'd have you raped in front of me.'
What?
I can hardly believe my ears.
Of all the cheap, nasty, low things he could have'Has he has he touched you? If he has, I swear-'
'He hasn't,' I say hastily. 'And I don't think he ever will either, so don't worry about that.'
'How do you know, though?' he asks desperately.
'I know, because because he's dropped hints about it, but then laughed and said that he wouldn't dirty his
hands on filth like me. He's actually said, 'I don't touch Mudbloods'. And anyway, when Dolohov'
I trail off, letting the words disappear into the air because I don't want to tell him about that.
Too late.
Ron's ears are burning bright red with anger. 'What did Dolohov do?'
'Nothing,' I say, altogether too quickly, and his grip on my hand tightens, pulling a small gasp from my
throat.
'Tell me, Hermione.'
'It was nothing.'
Nothing? It didn't feel like nothing at the time.
I push the thought away. 'It was just well, Dolohov's tried it on, sort of but Lucius stopped him. He said
it would shame a pure-blood-'
But Ron's breathing is suddenly heavy.
I grip at his hand. 'Ron, it doesn't matter, don't you see? What I'm trying to say is that Lucius won't let them
do anything, so it's alright-'
'I'll kill him,' he says quietly.
'Who? Lucius?'
He pauses. 'Both of them. Him and Dolohov. I'll kill them for what they've done to you.'
I put my arm around his shoulders. 'Come on, I'm fine. And anyway, what about you? They've treated you
worse than they've treated me-'

149

'No they haven't,' he says quietly. 'When they first came to torture me they said I was lucky that I wasn't
Muggle-born, like you. They said they would be more lenient with me because of my blood. It wasn't long
before Malfoy threatened to have you hurt and I told them everything.'
I rub at his arm, not knowing what else to do. 'It'll be alright, Ron. I promise you-'
'How can you promise that?' he asks violently. 'How can you say that everything will be alright, when we're
under the control of these fucking psychos? When they've effectively said that they're going to kill us when
they're finished with us? When you've got a piece of shit rapist after you, with only Lucius fucking Malfoy
to defend you?'
I go silent, looking down at the floor. I press my lips together to stop the tears of hopelessness from falling.
'We've got to get out of here, Hermione.'
'How?' I ask. 'I mean, you might be able to, if you manage to get yourself out of the house without meeting
anyone on your way. But you'd have to swim across the lake, and I won't be able to come with you.'
'What do you mean?' he asks, frowning. 'You can swim, can't you?'
'Yes. But there are creatures in that lake,' I say quietly. 'They tried to kill me as I crossed the river. They go
for muggle-borns, though, so that might be why you didn't see them.'
Ron sucks in his breath. 'That's what she was talking about, then.'
'What?' I ask.
'Bellatrix said something to Dolohov about how it was lucky all three of us were purebloods.'
I sigh. 'Yeah, that'd be it-'
'But we can't give up!' he says fiercely. 'We must be able to do something!'
'I don't think so, Weasley.'
Shit!
My head snaps up to see a figure emerging from thin air as he pulls an invisibility cloak off himself,
smirking at us horribly. His wand is ready in his fingers as he throws the cloak to the floor.
I recover before Ron does.
'How long have you been there?' I ask as Ron and I pull ourselves to our feet.
'Long enough, Mudblood.' Lucius smirks as he answers me. 'Long enough.'
'But' Ron stutters. 'You weren't there when I got here. You must have been here before I arrived!'
Before he arrived?Are you telling me that Lucius was here while I was sleeping?
Lucius rolls his eyes. 'Your quick-wittedness will never cease to amaze me, Weasley. I assume that you have
been put in charge of the family brain power for the time being?'
'Don't patronize me, you bastard!'
150

Ron lunges forward, but Lucius steps back curtly and flicks his wand at him without a trace of panic.
'Crucio!'
'AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!'
Ron's screams rip through me as he falls to the ground, bucking and writhing in agony. I throw myself
towards Lucius, but as I reach him he grabs my throat, holding me out at arms length. I gasp and choke in his
grasp, and although he keeps his wand on Ron his eyes are on me, full of cold, hard anger as Ron's screams
tear through the room.
'Please-' I mouth the word; squeeze it out of my throat as best I can. His lip curls up, and he lifts the curse
from Ron and throws me down on the floor next to him. I crawl over to Ron's shaking body and I put my
arms around him, cradling him to me.
'It's almost laughable,' Lucius drawls, but his face is far from smiling. It's full of an odd, angry expression
that I can't fathom. 'You're both so unbelievably pathetic.'
Ron raises his head from the ground. 'Piss off, Malfoy!'
Raw, dangerous anger flashes on Lucius' face then, just for a second, before it curls up into a horrible smirk.
'Did you know that your friend calls me Lucius?' His gaze flicks to me for a second before it moves back to
Ron. 'She knows that I dislike it, and yet she does insist on calling me by my first name. Why do you think
that is, Weasley? Perhaps she's growing attached to me-'
'Ron, no!' I yell as Ron pushes himself quickly off of the ground.
'Impedimenta!'
Ron flies backwards, back into the wall, and cries out in pain as his body slams hard into the unforgiving
stone. But he doesn't crumple down to the ground, like I expect him to. He stays where he is, pinned to the
wall.
'And you stay where you are,' Lucius murmurs as he turns to me, 'or I'll see to it that he suffers greatly.'
I pull myself to my feet, shaking from head to toe as he walks over to me, slowly.
'What do you want?' I ask quietly, knowing that it's best to just get whatever he's got planned for today over
with.
He doesn't answer me. He just smiles as he approaches me, leaning in closer and speaking to me quietly.
'I must say, I enjoyed the conversation I overhead between the pair of you.' He smirks down into my face as
his voice dips low so that only I can hear him. 'Yes, I found it very amusing. I want to thank you for
providing me with such quality entertainment.'
I feel a blush burn across my face.
But why? Why should I feel embarrassed about it? If he wants to listen in to our conversation, that's his own
sorry affair.
'Why were you here?' I hiss at him. 'Why were you here' alone while I was sleeping, watching me sleep,
watching me dream, 'listening to our conversation?'
151

His raises his eyebrows, sneering. 'Do you really want an answer to that question?'
'You leave her alone, Malfoy!' Ron snarls. Lucius points his wand at him without even looking at him. I don't
know what he does but Ron sucks his breath in a gasp.
'I wasn't speaking to you, Weasley.'
'Stop it!' I hiss at Lucius. 'You don't need to hurt him!'
'And I won't, if he keeps his mouth shut and if you manage to keep yourself from being insolent. Have you
ever considered that you might almost find me agreeable if you'd just do as I say?'
Agreeable?
I flick my gaze over to Ron, who's breathing harshly through his nose and staring at Lucius with a hatred that
I've never seen on his face before.
I feel two fingers hook cruelly into my chin.
'Look at me, not him.'
I do as he says because he's left me no other option but to do so, and he lets go of my chin, smirking at me
again.
'Good. And as to your previous question, I will tell you that I might be compassionate enough to let your
friend visit you, but I'm not a fool, either. I'm not stupid enough to leave you two alone together. Who knows
what two hormonal teenagers could get up to when left to pass the time together?'
'What does it matter to you what we get up to?' I ask, my embarrassment pulling indignant words out of me.
Anger hardens his features 'Oh believe me, Mudblood, I have no interest whatsoever in your sordid little
love-life.'
'Well then why-'
He cuts my words off with a hard slap across the face. My head flings backwards, and I bite the inside of my
cheek to stop the tears from coming.
'Leave her alone, you bastard!' Ron's voice comes to my aid, but then'Silencio!'
Ron opens and closes his mouth silently, looking at Lucius with pure and utter hatred.
'You will speak only when spoken to, boy,' Lucius says quietly. 'I'm trying to talk to the Mudblood, and I'm
afraid that you aren't invited into the conversation.'
I open my mouth in rage, but in an instant he's pointing his wand directly at my heart.
'And don't even think about defending him,' he says quietly, 'or I shall make sure that he suffers from much
more than a simple silencing charm.'
I press my lips tightly together.
Damn him.
152

He leans in closer, closer, and he shifts my hair away from my shoulder as he speaks quietly into my ear.
'Don't think that you can get away with any more impertinence. I spent the best part of my day yesterday
trying to teach you that I will not tolerate it from you. And I don't want to think that I wasted my time.'
He winds his fingers into my hair and pulls my head up to face him, far too close.
'Did I waste my time, Mudblood?'
I gulp down the tears that burn behind my eyes. 'No.'
He smiles slightly. 'Good.'
He releases my hair and he steps back from me.
I look over at Ron's face, red and blotchy with anger, and I take automatic steps towards him.
'No.' Lucius doesn't even raise his voice. 'I don't think so.' He pushes me backwards, back towards the wall.
'Stay there, and don't move until I tell you.'
I almost gasp with the cruelty of it. But I don't. I keep my face as hard as his own as I stare long and hard at
him.
'Now, shall we let young Ronald talk again?'
He points his wand at Ron, actually waiting for my approval with a horrible mocking smirk on his face.
'Yes, please,' I say quietly, hating him with every corner of my soul.
He smiles.
'Finite Incantatum.'
There's a few seconds of silence. And then'You bastard, Malfoy.'
Lucius turns at Ron's voice and comes to stand next to me, and I hate him for that because it makes the
whole thing feel like it's me and him facing Ron together. His wand touches lightly, oh so lightly at my
waist, keeping me where I am, reminding me that he is in control here.
'What's your problem?' Ron asks, his voice shaky with hatred. 'Do you get off on hurting people, is that what
it is?'
I suck in my breath but Lucius just chuckles at him.
'I wouldn't say that I, ah'get off' on it, but I do have to admit that my scruples tend to abandon me when it
comes to the Weasley family. I think I proved that during your sister's first year at Hogwarts, wouldn't you
agree?'
Ron's face contorts itself into a mask of rage, but he can't do anything while he's pinned to the wall. 'Don't
talk about my sister, Malfoy.'

153

Lucius genuinely laughs then. He actually throws his head back and laughs. 'I'll talk about whomever I
please, however I please. And that includes every last member of your worthless family. Might I remind you
that you are scarcely in a position to give me orders.'
Ron breathes heavily, like he's been running. 'I wasn't just talking about me and my family, though,' he says
eventually. 'You enjoy hurting Hermione more than me, I can tell. When you came to get information from
me you let that bloody Bellatrix do all the dirty work. You only ever hurt me to get to Hermione. I can only
imagine what you've done to her when you've been alone together. And you've got no bloody reason for it
you only do it because she's Muggle-born.'
'Her being Muggle born only removes any moral dilemma that the situation might present,' Lucius says
coldly. 'I have tortured her only because it is my duty. Were you my prisoner, I would show you the same
treatment, let me assure you.'
I want to scream to rail at the bastard's lying face. But I don't. What's the point in hurting Ron with the
truth about what's really going on?
'Please don't presume to know anything about me, boy,' Lucius goes on. 'Or about her, for that matter.'
What what the hell is thatsupposed to mean?
'What the bloody hell are you talking about?' Ron asks incredulously. 'She's my friend-'
'And she's my prisoner,' Lucius drawls. 'Meaning that I've seen sides to her personality that she would never
dream of showing you-'
'I am here, you know!' I flare up suddenly.
There's a short pause.
'And who knows that any better than I do?' Lucius mutters vehemently. 'Damn, but I'd do anything to be rid
of you, once and for all.'
Those words sting more much more than I care to admit. I don't know why, it's just
The door clicks and suddenly Bellatrix bursts into the room, closely followed by Dolohov. They're both
smiling; laughing, almost.
'Lucius, you'll never guess what's happened!' Bellatrix says breathlessly.
Lucius just raises an eyebrow at her. 'I don't have time for guessing games. What's going on?'
'They've agreed, Lucius,' Dolohov says as he turns to lock the door behind him. 'They've agreed to do
whatever we want, whenever we want, and they patiently await our orders. All they ask in return is that we
don't hurt their little boy.'
Bellatrix lets out a shout of triumphant laughter as Lucius turns, smirking, to Ron.
'Well, well, well,' he drawls horribly, his voice laden with malice. 'Did you hear that, boy? Your parents have
agreed to serve the Dark Lord. What do you think of that?'
It's like the ground's disappeared under me. I can't even comprehend the shock.
Ron's face goes white, so white that he looks like he's lost all of his blood.
154

'But they wouldn't they would never' he sputters.


'Oh, but they have.' Bellatrix cuts him off. 'And they did it without a moment's hesitation, either. How does it
feel, Weasel? You have brought two new servants for the Dark Lord!'
'But they wouldn't!' Ron says desperately.
Lucius rolls his eyes. 'Honestly, I would have thought you'd be pleased. Would you rather they'd have turned
round and said 'No, we won't serve you. Kill our son; our principles mean more to us than he does'?'
Ron doesn't answer him, but I can see the pain on his face. I can see it in the whiteness of his skin and the
tears in his eyes.
Lucius curls a sneer. 'I didn't think so, somehow.'
'You BASTARDS!' Ron bursts out suddenly. 'They're my parents, you sick, sick fuckers! How can you use
someone's own son to make them serve you? It's so low, so sick! I hope you all burn in hell, you fucking
evil-'
'Stupefy!'
'No!'
The word leaves my mouth as Ron is hit by the red jet of light and falls away from the wall, sprawled on the
ground.
I close my eyes and I press my lips together, sinking down to the floor, because what can I do about it?
They've all got their wands, while I have nothing.
'Thank-you, Antonin. I thought for a moment that we might have to put up with another of his tedious rants.'
I keep my eyes closed, trying to ignore Lucius' words. 'Take him back to his room, and don't bother bringing
him round. Just leave him some food for when he eventually wakes up.'
I open my eyes to see Dolohov open the door and point his wand at Ron, who rises into the air like some
kind of lifeless puppet. He floats out of the room in front of Dolohov, who closes the door behind him.
'You bastards,' I hiss from the floor, shaken by the depths of my hatred. 'What has he ever done to deserve
that?'
My throat closes up.
I open my mouth and try to push some sound out, but I just can't, no matter how hard I try. I can breathe, but
I can't speak.
Bellatrix is pointing her wand at me.
'We don't have time to listen to your tantrums, Mudblood,' she hisses. 'The boy hasn't been harmed; he's just
being kept out of the way for the time being. I would have thought you'd be pleased.'
I open my mouth automatically, but my indignant response comes to nothing because I can't voice it. And so
I do all I can in defiance of them. I glare at them.
Bellatrix turns, smiling, to Lucius. 'It's such a pleasant change when she eventually keeps her mouth shut,
don't you agree?'
155

'Oh Bella, who knows it better than I?' he says, shooting me a sideways glance from under lowered eyelids.
She winds her arms around his neck, pulling him closer to her. He smiles down at her before she plants a kiss
on his lips.
My own mouth falls open, and my stomach flips as he stretches his hands around her waist, pulling her
closer to him.
I want to gag.
Isn't he married? To her sister, for crying out loud?
But then, after everything he's done to me I shouldn't be surprised that he's not above sleeping with his sisterin-law.
But why is she doing this in front of me? Wouldn't she want to keep it private that she's sleeping with her
own sister's husband?
She answers my unasked question when she opens her eyes, looking at me out of the corner of her eye as she
kisses him.
For some reason, this is for my benefit. Christ knows why
He pulls away from her first, keeping hold of her waist as she rests her hand on his cheek.
'You should go to the Dark Lord and tell him the good news,' he murmurs to her, his voice so low that I have
to strain to hear him.
'Well, why don't you come with me?' she asks, running a finger down the front of his robes. 'We could let
him know together. He would reward us handsomely, I am sure-'
'No.' He pulls away from her, plucking her hand away from his chest. 'I'm afraid not, Bella. I've got, ah
business to deal with here.' He looks at me pointedly, and she turns her head to give me such a horrible look
that it actually turns me cold.
'Well that won't take more than five minutes, surely!' she says petulantly. 'I'll wait for you, and then we can
go together.'
'No, I think you should go alone,' he says firmly. 'It might help you to re-ingratiate yourself with him if you
deliver this news to him. After all, he has hardly been best pleased with you since all the business at the
Department of Mysteries-'
'He hasn't been happy with you either!' she says indignantly.
'No, he hasn't,' he replies calmly, 'but my work with the Mudblood has got me back into his good books, I
think.'
'Well I don't see why you need to stay here with her now. You were with her all of yesterday.'
I could almost laugh. Is she actually jealous of me?
Oh, for god's sake!

156

'And I am sorry for it,' he drawls, narrowing his eyes at her. 'But I am afraid that there's no getting around the
issue. The Dark Lord has ordered me to punish her for her part in the whole Carrow episode. I can't afford to
disobey him, you know that.'
Oh, you bastard! If I could speak, I swear, I'd tell her the truth about what's really going on.
'And anyway,' he goes on, 'it was you that dealt with the Weasleys. I had no part in it.' He tucks a finger
under her chin and raises her sulking face up to look at him. 'You should go alone, Bella,' he says coaxingly.
'I would not wish to take any credit or reward for something you have done.'
She seems to be taken in by his self-serving lies. She smiles up at him, placated, before planting one final,
light kiss on his lips.
'I'll see you later, then.'
She turns away from him, throwing me another evil glare before leaving the room, closing the door behind
her. Lucius flicks his wand after her, and the door clicks as it locks itself.
'So,' he leans against the wall, a tiny smile on his face, 'here we are again, Mudblood. Just me and you, once
more.'
I stare at him, hating him.
'Oh, forgive me.' He grins as he raises his wand. 'I quite forgot about your momentary indisposition. Finite
Incantatum.'
It's like my throat has come unstuck.
'What the hell do you want with me now?' I hiss as I get to my feet. 'Why didn't you just go with her? I don't
want you here.'
He breathes a small, incredulous laugh. 'Now now, I just want to speak with you. There's no need to be
touchy.'
'Touchy!' Touchy is being a little bit on the moody side. Touchy does not even come close to the rage and
hatred I feel towards him.'Touchy?'
He chuckles. 'Calm down, my dear emotional young lady.'
'No, I won't calm down!' I yell. 'Just go away. Catch Bellatrix up and go with her. Just leave me alone.'
I turn away from him and lean against the wall, pressing my forehead into the cold stone.
'No,' he says after a while. 'No, I think I'd rather stay here. Bella can be ever so repetitive.'
I actually let out a tiny shout of laughter as I turn away from the wall to face him again.
He's closer than he was before.
'And I'm not I suppose?' I stare at him long and hard. 'All I do is try to fight against you, break down into
tears, and then give in to what you want. If that's not repetition, I don't know what is.'
And he he doesn't answer me, not right away. He just watches me, and he doesn't come any closer, not yet.
He's got the strangest expression on his face it's as if something is amusing him, but he's trying to work
out exactly how it amuses him.
157

'Yes, indeed. But you have to admit that hatred is so much more interesting than adoration. For example, I
am sure you find me more interesting than your dear friend Weasley, even if you might prefer his company
to mine.'
'How can you suggest that?' I ask incredulously. 'Voldemort himself might be a fascinating psychological
study, but that doesn't mean I'd go near him with a bargepole if I had the option!'
He just smirks, and I almost yell in sheer frustration, but I force myself to channel it into something more
useful. If he prefers hatred to affection, then he shall receive it from me in abundance.
'Tell me,' I throw the words at him, and I hope to god they hurt, 'does your wife know that you're sleeping
with her sister?'
His face creases into a frown at that.
'What does it matter if she does or she doesn't?' he asks quietly. 'It is not your concern how I treat my wife.'
A long silence spreads out between us. I stare into his cold grey eyes, which are narrowed in anger. They're
like ice.
'Why did you tell Ron' I trail off, not really knowing how to finish that sentence because I'm not sure
whether I really want the answer.
'Why did I tell him what?' His voice is quiet. I'm getting to him now.
'You told Ron you'd have me raped in front of him if he didn't do as you said,' I mumble.
His face is hardening. 'What does that matter?' he asks quietly. 'What does it matter what he believes? I
wouldn't really have done it.'
'I know that!' I feel my face blooming in spite of myself. 'But it was so low of you, to use a sick trick like
that to make him talk!'
'Well, it was just too good an opportunity to pass up!' A small, malicious smile twitches onto his face. 'You
should have seen the look on his face as I described exactly what I would do to you, and how I'd make sure
that you'd enjoy every minute of it-'
He told Ron that he would do it himself?
'You unimaginable bastard!'
I lunge at him, humiliation and rage pounding in my ears. How bloody dare he?
But I freeze before I can reach him. Frozen to the spot by his wand, and all of a sudden he's standing over
me. All I can move is my head. He smiles, running a finger down my cheek.
'There's no need to be angry. You know that your body is, ah sacred to me.'
I press my lips together.
'Now, are you going to behave yourself if I let you move again?' he asks quietly.
I swallow down my indignation and I nod. He smiles wider, and he flicks his wand at me. I stumble slightly
as the curse leaves me, but he grabs me by the arm, holding me upright.
158

He doesn't let go, even as I regain my footing.


'I have to say, I found myself touched as you defended me against your friend's accusations.' He smirks. 'I
never knew you cared.'
'I don't care about you!' I wrench my arm out of his grip and he breathes a tiny laugh.
'Of course you don't.' He reaches up and winds his fingers through my hair by my ear. 'That's why you
denied his allegations so vehemently. Why didn't you just let him believe the worst of me?'
'Because I didn't want to hurt him!' I hiss. 'Not that I'd expect you to understand that!'
'An admirable sentiment,' he says mockingly, 'but if that is the case, then why did you tell him about what
Antonin tried to do to you?'
I pause then, just for a second.
'I just' I trail off, not really knowing what to say.
He smirks all the wider, removing his hand from my hair. 'So you didn't want to hurt him. Or maybe you're
just growing fond of me.'
'SHUT UP!' I scream, raising my hand to slap him, but he grabs it before it can reach him, his smile
vanishing as he pulls me closer to him.
'You still dare to raise a hand to me?' his face is suffused in anger. 'I thought that yesterday had taught you
some obedience, or at least some remorse for your actions when we first arrived here-'
'Well you thought wrong, didn't you? Do you really think I would have done as you'd said yesterday if you
hadn't forced me into it? And as for stabbing you, I'm glad I did it, do you hear me? I'm only sorry that I
missed and got you in the arm instead of in the neck-'
He puts his hand to my throat and slams me against the wall. My mouth is pulled back into a kind of horrible
grin as he looks at me long and hard.
'I see,' he says quietly. 'So it appears that I did waste my time, after all. I knew that you didn't believe what I
made you say, but I had hoped that you might have at least learned to regret your measly attempt at violence
towards me, or perhaps have learned to do as you are told.' He looks at me intently, his face so full of hate it
almost makes me feel sick. 'Why won't you just do as you're told?'
He looks at me for a few moments before he steps back from me, releasing my throat. I fall away from the
wall, massaging my neck as he points his wand at the floor, where a plate appears holding a loaf of bread, a
bowl of soup and a goblet of water.
'I shall be back in half an hour,' he says curtly. 'It appears that we have more work to do than I thought. I
expect you to finish your meal before I return.'
He pulls the tiny key out of his robes and transports himself out of here.
You mustn't panic. Whatever he does to you, it can't be any worse than he's done already.
Yeah, right.
I sit down on the floor with my plate of food, more to put off my fear than anything else, and I find myself
reluctantly enjoying every last mouthful of it.
159

10. Power Struggle


'We both stood there both of us knowing we'd gotten somewhere we'd never been and like the cat and
mouse in cartoons, we were still alive and wanted to see how far we could take this thing and still be alive.'
Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
'Stars, hide your fires, let not light see my black and deep desires.' William Shakespeare, Macbeth

'Nox!'
That muttered incantation snaps my eyes open.
I can't have been asleep, can I? I only closed my eyes for a second!
The light has gone out.
Oh, no!
I didn't even hear him come in! He's been gone for so long I'd started to think that he'd changed his mind
about coming back at all.
I scramble to my feet in the darkness.
'Petrificus totalus!'
I feel all of my limbs snap together and I fall smack onto my back. Tiny lights burst in front of my eyes, but I
can't cry out through the wire that's sealed up my jaw.
I strain my muscles, trying desperately to shift them, but nothing can overcome this horrible awful paralysis.
I can't move.
I can't see.
I can only hear: hear that low, mocking chuckle.
'A simple little spell, but so effective, wouldn't you agree?'
You know that I can't answer you, you bastard!
click
click
click
The sound of his boots comes closer, stopping right next to my head.
'My, but this is certainly an improvement,' he drawls maliciously. 'It's such a pleasure not to have to put up
with your tedious whining; your incessant need to prove your strength to me. I see you standing up straight
with pride. I see you looking me in the eye, pretending you are my equal.'
160

He pauses, then chuckles horribly.


'Well, now you are where you belong: on the ground at my feet. Useless, helpless, with such a delicious
amount of fear in your eyes. Oh yes, I can see you. The hand of glory is a marvellous tool indeed. So don't
fool yourself that you can hide in the darkness.'
I feel his robes brush over me.
'It's darkness that shows us what we really are, Mudblood,' he murmurs. 'In the dark, one can be whoever
one wishes to be.'
His footsteps move to the other side of the room.
click
click
click
'You are at my mercy,' he says quietly, with relish. 'That is something you never been able to understand. You
never could display deference to me, even though the natural order of things demanded it.' His voice
hardens. 'I am the one in control here, and I always have been. You may as well have always been lying
helpless at my feet. But still you continued in your insufferable insolence. Still you continued to fight against
me, telling yourself that you are my equal.'
There's a long silence.
'By God, you will learn your place, by the time I am finished with you.'
He pauses again, letting the words sink in.
No. No, I won't accept it. He can't make me.
His footsteps come closer again, and I feel him crouch down next to me.
'I think I'll leave you like that for the time being,' he says negligently, running his wand down my cheek. 'It
gives you no other option but to stay still, to stay quiet, and to listen for once.'
He stands up and walks away from me. I press my eyes into the darkness in a will to see something,
anything
'I am going to talk,' he says quietly, 'and you are going to listen.'
Only if I choose to
'I want you to think back, back to when you were eleven years old, when you first received your letter of
acceptance from Hogwarts.' He pauses for a second. 'I want you to think about how you felt when you
opened that letter.'
What kind of game is this?
It doesn't matter. All that matters is that I don't think about it, because if I think about it I'll be letting him
mess with my mind
161

But in this horrible paralysed darkness I can't help but think about it. His words are all there is for me in the
world at this moment, and I feel my brain working in spite of myself.
How did I feel?
Really, really excited. I can remember it now. I mean, I discovered that there was such a thing as magic, after
all, that it didn't just exist in fairy tales. Not only that, but I could do it. Me! Plain little Hermione Granger. I
was special, really special for the first time in my life.
But I was I mean, at first I didn't really know whether to believe it. I'd always thought that magic was
made up. I had a horrible feeling that someone was playing some kind of trick on me. That it was a joke, or
something.
'I imagine that it came as quite a surprise.' His voice cuts through the dark. 'You didn't even know that magic
existed before your letter arrived, I'll be bound.'
Well, no, of course I didn't, but I can't be blamed for that! I'm muggle-born of course I didn't know that
magic existed.
Shut up, Hermione! That's the exact point that he's getting at!
'You grew up without magic,' he says, his voice cold. 'You grew up with muggles. You didn't even know
what magic was until you were eleven years old.'
And suddenly there's a searing pain across my scalp, and my hair's being pulled by the roots, and I can't even
flinch against the pain.
'What right had you to come into the magical world?' he murmurs, his voice a metallic rasp now directly in
my ear. 'What right had you to magic? When countless pureblooded families had to work tirelessly for
generations to keep magic alive, suffering persecution from muggles too afraid to admit their own inferiority,
what gives a muggle any muggle the right to walk into a world that's ours by right of blood?'
He pauses and he loosens his fingers from my hair.
'Ah, but you don't believe me, of course,' he says quietly. 'I can see that fact staring back at me from that
open mind of yours. Well think about this: did you ever have any indication that you were different from the
other muggle children you were no doubt surrounded by?'
Bugger.
I know what he's talking about. People at school would talk about it random performances of magic that
they managed as a child without even meaning to.
Think, Hermione.
But I don't know whether I did. I mean, I would remember, wouldn't I?
I think as hard as I can. There must have been something, anything. Something unusual that I couldn't
explain
There must have been something!
I can almost hear him smirking.
162

'You can't name me such an occassion, can you?' His voice drips with malice. 'You never once performed
any accidental magic, I'll be bound. Well, I can't blame you for that - it's only to be expected, after all. And
do you know why?'
I'm sure that you're going to tell me.
'Because you do not have any right to study magic, that's why.' He's still crouching over me. 'I daresay even
that idiot Longbottom managed some accidental magic before he arrived at Hogwarts.'
Neville's not an idiot!
But I remember at the Hogwarts feast, Neville telling us all about how his Uncle dropped him out of the
window and he bounced down the garden. I remember Harry telling me about when he flew up onto the roof
of his school.
Why can't I remember anything like that?
Because not every witch or wizard is the same. It doesn't mean anything. People told you that you were the
best witch in your year don't forget it.
Lucius Malfoy's words don't mean anything. They're empty noises. Meaningless. I won't listen to them.
I feel a warm hand brush onto my cheek.
I wish he wouldn't do that.
But it goes on, his long fingers circling over the side of my face, and his thumb gently brushing my
cheek...
I move the one part of my body I can still move I close my eyes.
A small sting crosses my cheek as he slaps it with that same hand that brushed it just a second ago.
'Keep your eyes open.'
I do as he says, and I feel his brain seep into mine, just for a second, as he reads my thoughts.
'Of course, you still cling on to the fact that you were considered to be 'the best in your year' at Hogwarts.'
He's practically laughing at me. 'And of course people said that. You worked hard. You memorised every
spell and could perform magic perfectly, with no flaws whatsoever. But what you need to ask yourself is this
would you have been able to perform magic so well if you didn't work as hard as you did?'
I
I don't know. How can I know the answer to that question? I've always been a hard worker it's all I've ever
known.
Although, I suppose, I did feel that I had to work harder at Hogwarts than I did at primary school. There just
seemed to be so much to catch up on.
I can feel that invisible hand rooting around in my brain again, and he's still leaning over me I can feel his
light breathing.
'You're beginning to listen, aren't you?' He breathes a small, satisfied chuckle. 'You're beginning to realise
that I might have a point, after all.'
163

Shut up! I'll never believe what you tell me, never, never, never!
I scream those words in my mind, hoping for once that he is looking into my eyes and reading my thoughts.
There's a long pause before he slaps me across the cheek again. My head doesn't move, but I feel the horrible
sting of it spread across my face.
There's something so personal about a slap in the face. I don't know why, there just is.
But then, I'm not just his assignment anymore. This has become more personal between us than I think either
of us could ever have imagined.
I hear him stand up.
'So, you still don't believe me?' I can hear him walking around me, slowly.
Click.
Click.
Click.
'I wonder, did you ever speculate as to why you had to work so hard?' His voice is soft, so soft. 'Did you ever
consider that you might be pushing yourself so far because you had to make up for the fact that magic didn't
come naturally to you? Think about it out of you and your two best friends, you were the only one without
any magical blood in you, and consequently you were the one who had to work the hardest.'
But I didn't have to work the hardest I chose to!
Didn't I?
I WON'T listen to him!
But I have to listen. There's nothing else for me to do!
'Magic is hereditary,' he murmurs. 'There is no other way of looking at it. That you somehow managed to
gain yourself some basic magical power is unfortunate, but it does not give you the right to call yourself a
witch.'
I don't believe you!
I won't believe you!
'It is not something that can be learned,' he carries on in that horrible drawl. 'Nor is it a toy to be played with
by filthy Muggles. It is a privilege, one that should only be practiced only by those deemed worthy by their
blood.'
Don't listen. It's twisted, pure-blood logic. That's all it is.
I feel his wand trail down my cheek again.
My breath catches in my throat.
'You still don't believe me, do you?' he asks quietly. 'I know that you're telling yourself that it's all lies, and
that it's just ridiculous prejudice talking.' He breathes a small chuckle as he rests the smooth wood of the
164

wand on my cheek. 'Believe me, you haven't the faintest idea of what is true and what is false in this world.
The only lies that have ever been fed to you are by those who told you that you were ever worthy to practice
magic. You were a muggle-lover's experiment. An unfortunate victim of so-called equal opportunity. Nothing
more.'
His wand comes away from my cheek and I feel him stand up next to me.
'I am going to prove to you just how unworthy to practice magic you actually are.'
And then I feel a huge shiver run through me, and my muscles all relax.
'Get up.'
I pull myself up into a sitting position, feeling the ache as my muscles ease into action.
'I meant for you to stand up, Mudblood,' he says, with a tiny hint of a chuckle, 'amusing as it is to see you
squirm by my feet.'
Shut up!
I stand up quickly, looking out into the darkness with as much pride as I can muster.
It's no easy task when I can't even see what who I'm trying to look at.
'Do you believe that you are worthy to practice magic?' he asks.
'Yes.' All of my anger and rage that built up when I was lying on the floor comes out of my mouth in defiant
words. I glare right in front of me, hoping that he's in my eye-line. 'I'm just as worthy to practice magic as
you are. I'm sorry if your belief that muggle-borns are lower than you has given you a false sense of purpose,
but there's no way of getting around it, I'm afraid. Magic is not always hereditary, and I have as much right
to it as you do.'
There's a long, drawn out silence. I breathe deeply, trying to push down the fear and the panic that squeezes
my heart.
Breathe in
Breathe out
I wish I could see his face.
'Would you prefer it if there was some light in here?' His voice looms out of the darkness.
Does he even have to ask that?
'Yes, please.' Perhaps if I ask politely he might take this horrible darkness away.
'Oh no, you misunderstand me. I wasn't asking if you would like me to provide you with some light. No, I
am sure that a witch of your intelligence should be able to cast a simple Lumos spell.'
But
'Are you' I swallow sharply, my throat very dry. 'Are you going to give me a wand?'
He chuckles.
165

'No, I don't think so.' I can almost hear the sneer in his voice. 'You insult my intelligence by even suggesting
such a thing.'
But
'How do you expect me to cast a spell if I don't have a wand?'
'Observe, Mudblood.'
And then there's a long, huge, spiralling silence. I would think that he's gone, but I can hear his light
breathing through the dark.
And then there's light.
Only a small ball of light, but light nonetheless, resting in a glowing orb in his free hand, and for a moment I
can see his face, smirking in triumph as he watches me over the top of it.
He closes his hand around the orb, which disappears instantly, plunging the room into darkness once again.
Oh, all right. Well bloody done. If you think that's going to make me feel inferior to you then you're sorely
mistaken
'I was able to do that because I'm a Wizard.' His voice is so, so cold. 'A pure-blood wizard; one whose power
comes from his blood-line. Because of its source, my natural magical talent is powerful enough to allow me
to create wandless magic. Now I want you to try to do the same.'
But
But what? You can do this! It's just like casting a silent spell.
But this is different! If I couldn't even do wand-less magic as a child, when it's just so common, apparently,
then how am I meant to do it now in here?
In front of him?
He sighs mockingly.
'I have all the time in the world, Mudblood. I know that this is probably the most difficult thing you have
ever had to do this is, after all, a matter of being, not something you can just memorise from a book. You
just take your time.'
Bastard.
I take a deep breath and I close my eyes.
Think, think hard
Light, sunshine, electricity, moonlight
How does wandless magic feel, anyway?
Come on, concentrate!
Lumos
166

I look, but there's nothing


Never mind, try again
I concentrate on light, on light penetrating the darkness
This horrible endless darkness.
THINK!
Lumos!
No, nothing Try again
Come on, feel the power in you, you're magical you know that you are!
Lumos
'Lumos!' I whisper the word. I open my eyes, and
Pure, unbroken darkness.
He chuckles.
'Oh dear,' he drawls. 'You can't do it, can you? You just don't have the ability.'
God, this is humiliating.
But why? It's not my fault!
'That doesn't mean that I'm not a witch!' I say indignantly. 'Not everyone's the same. Plenty of people never
do any kind of magic until they're trained to do it.'
'That is only the case for Mudbloods and Squibs.' His voice cuts across me, slices through the darkness. 'You
cannot do wandless magic because you have no real magic power in you. You can do magic with a wand,
yes, but not without. And that is the crucial difference. A wand is a magical device. Real magical ability
comes from within the witch or the wizard.'
'That's not true!' I say. 'Loads of pure-blood children can't do magic without a wand. And even if they can,
they only do it when they're pushed into it-'
I stop myself there, clamping my lips shut.
But it's too late. My words cartwheel into the darkness.
There's a long silence in the, and all I can hear is my heart beat, thumthumthumthum.
Is he still here?
Of course he's still here!
A red light shoots out of nowhere and fills the lantern on the ceiling. Dark red light fills the room, and now I
can see him, standing on the other side of the room, a small smirk on his face. He points his wand at that
horrible, shrivelled hand of glory, and the candle it holds goes out before the whole thing shrinks and shrinks
to the size of a pebble before he drops it into the pocket of his robes.
167

And then he looks up at me.


'Pushed into it, you say?' He walks over to me, slowly. 'Alright, Mudblood, I'll make a deal with you.'
He reaches me and he raises his hand to my cheek, brushing my hair away from my face.
Stop it!
'I am going to try and 'push' you into doing some wandless magic,' he says quietly. 'If a magical reaction is
provoked in you, then I shall probably end up getting hurt in some way, but I give you my full permission to
do that. Do you understand me, Muggle? I am so certain that you will be unable to perform any wandless
magic that I am giving you permission to hurt me.'
He drops his hand from my hair and runs his wand down my cheek.
'Are you ready, Mudblood?'
Oh, sod this! I'm not going to beg him not to, I refuse!
'More than you can ever believe.'
I say it quite calmly.
He smirks.
And then he raises his wand
And I'm lifted up, up into the air, and I slam back into the wall, pain pain pain shooting through me all over.
All of my bones are broken, surely to god, and I cry out as I crumple down on the floor.
He turns and walks to the other side of the room, spinning on his heel and pointing his wand at me.
'Crucio!'
No! Noooooooo! Please stop, I can't BEAR it! Everything hurts, feeling, living, being. Knives and nails and
saws are being DRILLED into my nerves! Please please please make it STOP!
I collapse on the floor as the curse leaves me, and he's standing over me. I can see his black polished boots.
And then he grabs me by the hair, and all I can see is his smirking face.
'Nothing? Nothing at all?'
Come on, Hermione, think! Think with all your might
'Expelliarmus!' I whisper, focusing on his wand leaving his hand.
He just laughs at me and pulls my face closer to his.
'No luck, Mudblood. You just don't have the magic within you. You can't do anything if it's not taught to you
by a book, can you?'
He throws me to the ground.
'Perhaps you just haven't been pushed hard enough,' he says coldly.
168

Oh no, why did I suggest it to him, why?


A jet of black light flies out of his wand, shoots towards my neck.
And I can't breathe. I'm choking, gasping, there's something strangling me and I can't breathe at all. I kick
my legs out, scratch at my own throat with my hands, but nothing can take it away, nothing, oh god
'Why don't you try to stop me?' His voice comes from far away. 'Any real witch would be able to stop me,
why can't you?'
Think think!
I CAN'T think!
Just as tiny black spots start to appear in my eyes the gag leaves me and I'm gasping, choking on air and he's
laughing at me.
'Do you perhaps begin to understand that you don't have any real trace of magic in you.' He paces around
me, watching me get my breath back. 'Any real witch would feel the magic within her reacting instinctively
to such treatment.'
He reaches down and wrenches my head up by my hair to face him.
'So tell me, can you feel any kind of magical power running through you right now? Can you feel it
pounding through your veins?'
I focus so hard, trying with all of my might to force it. Every nerve in my body burns with the effort.
But if I were able to do it I'd have done it when he first started to torture me, surely?
I'd never even thought about the possibility of wandless magic.
Well you know it's a possibility now! Think, Hermione! Think about all the pain you'd like to cause him,
about everything he's done to you
He smiles.
'But, of course, you just can't feel it, can you? And do you know why that is?'
I know what he wants me to say, but he can go to hell if he thinks I'm going to give in to him again.
'It means that I just don't happen to be able to do wandless magic,' I say as calmly as I can. 'It doesn't have
anything to do with the fact that I'm muggle born. I was the best in my year at Hogwarts - that has to say
something about my magical ability. I am a witch, and there's nothing you can do or say that will change
that.'
He looks at me in silence, a sneer arching his features.
'Even your pathetic friend Weasley can do wandless magic,' he drawls. 'I saw it happen. Just the once.
Bellatrix was being a little forceful with her questioning of the boy, and she suddenly fell backwards,
clutching at her stomach even though she hadn't been touched. How does that feel, Mudblood? Your
brainless little friend is more magically adept than you.'
'And do you know why that is?' I ask furiously. 'It's because he's not brainless. He's a great wizard a far
better wizard than you'll ever be.'
169

And I don't regret saying that. Even though his face is losing the small amount of colour it has in rage, I don't
regret saying it at all.
'And why would you say that?' he asks quietly.
'Because he's good,' I say proudly, 'and because he's kind. You only ever use your powers for evil. You might
patronize him, and call him stupid, but you're not fit to lick Ron Weasley's boots.'
He smirks, but without any joy. The corners of his mouth just twitch up slightly, as if I've said something that
both amuses and enrages him.
And then I feel his hand whip across my cheek in a slap.
'So,' he says, his voice quiet and his face full of malicious amusement, 'you dare to suggest that I am lower
than that pathetic little boy, do you?'
'You are lower than him!' I hiss. 'What else do you expect me to think? He's one of the best people I know.
You I hate you more than anything else in the world!'
And that horrible, mirthless smirk disappears, and all there is in the world for a moment are his eyes, hard
and flinty with rage.
And then I see his fist
And then I feel pain.
I feel everything break, everything, and I cry out, but he mercilessly keeps hold of the front of my robes
'Oh, believe me, Mudblood, the feeling is entirely mutual,' he hisses.
I can taste blood in my mouth.
I reel my head back to face him again, because I am determined that he will not be afforded the luxury of the
pain he has caused me to be hidden from him.
He holds me close for a moment, looking deeply into my face.
And then
He reaches out, trailing his fingers down my face again, delicately skating them down my cheek, and he's
smirking.
'You always think to bring yourself up to my level,' he murmurs. 'But I am the one in control here; you know
this. I don't see why you feel the need to try and persuade me otherwise.'
And he rests his fingers on my jaw, looking intently into my face
And for some reason I find myself talking.
'Why do you do that?'
A hard look creeps into his eyes and he coolly drops his hand from my face, still holding on to the front of
my robes.
'Why do I do what, exactly?'
170

It has to be said.
I take a deep breath.
'Why do you touch me?' My voice is very wobbly, but I manage to push myself onwards. 'You said once
that you didn't want to touch me any more than you had to, but now you do it all the time. You're always
touching me, and when you do it's like'
I trail off. His face is so full of cold, still rage that it terrifies me.
'Like what?' He's almost whispering, his lips aren't moving.
I will not be afraid. I am going to show him I understand him.
'You like to think that you have complete control over me.' Keep it steady. 'But secretly you know that you
don't. There's one way in which you won't let yourself have absolute power over me. You know that. You
can't have complete control over me in that way because I'm muggle-born, and it would go against
everything you believe in to go that far.'
I know that I should stop, I know it, because he looks so angry right now that he almost looks inhuman. His
face is chalk-white and his features are harsh, and his eyes, his eyes are narrowed, flinty, cold and hard
But I don't stop.
'And I think you can't stand it,' I say quietly. 'You can't stand that you can't have complete control over me,
and so you use touch as a means of imitation, as a way of gaining some measure of power over me in the one
way that you can't'
I trail off, stopping myself from speaking, from going any further, because I've pushed it too far, I know it.
He's actually shaking with rage.
For a long while he just stares at me, his cold eyes burning with life for once in rage and pure, utter hatred.
Oh god, what have I done?
He pulls back from me and slams me into the wall.
Shit, OW! I feel thunderbolts and pain and HATRED pound through my body.
He slams his hands onto my shoulders, pushing me into the stone.
'So, I want control over you, do I?' he hisses. 'I want power over your body, is that what you're suggesting?'
He laughs mirthlessly before he slaps me hard across the face with the back of his hand. 'You pathetic little
bitch! Do you really think that I'd ever consider even thinking of you in that way?'
He pummels his fist into my stomach and I double over, collapsing onto the ground.
'You are filth!' His voice is harsh with rage. 'You are nothing! What right have you to say such things to me?'
I'm crying, crying in front of him again like I promised myself I would never do, screaming as he kicks out
at me again, and again, before turning and walking to the other side of the room.
THINK, Hermione! You must be able to do something!
He turns around and raises his wand at me.
171

'Crucio!'
Oh, nooooooooo! Please, I can't do this anymore! I just want it to stop, please, make it stop! I'm BURNING!
I'm shivering, whimpering on the ground when the curse leaves me. But he won't leave it alone. He
wrenches me up and slams me against the wall again.
Hate. Hate. HATE.
Come ON! Make him stop! You know that it can be done Ron did it!
'You useless, worthless muggle!' he whispers harshly into my face. 'You can't even do the tiniest amount of
wandless magic to protect yourself. What kind of witch are you? You're pathetic, do you hear me?'
And I try to think, but I can't think anymore. I just feel. Pain, hatred, agony, humiliation.
He slaps me hard across the face with the back of his hand.
'By god, you will learn your place!'
HATE. HATE. HATE.
I crumple to the ground, but he stands over me, and he's not finished yet.
I feel my eyes burn again, burn like they did in my cell when they tried to get me to tell them about Harry's
family
What right had he to do that? How could he make me give away information about my best friend?
I scream with the pain, pressing my fingers to my burning, bleeding eyeballs.
That was the day you gave Ron away, led him to his death
'No!' I scream, and he lifts the curse from me.
He's laughing at me.
HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE.
'What do you want?' he asks maliciously.
'I want you to stop!' I whimper, forgetting my pride and everything else, everything else that just doesn't
matter if he'd only leave me alone!
He laughs again, wrenches me up by the arm and presses me into the wall, so close, just like he was the other
day, in that one moment when he let me think that he would'But I thought you wanted to be able to do some wandless magic, Miss Granger.'
He used to call me that a lot more than he does now. Now it's always Mudblood, or Muggle
'My name's Hermione,' I whisper.
The laughter dies from his face and he pulls my head back and slams my head into the wall, breaking it,
smashing it.
172

HATE, HATE, HATE!


Pain. Unending pain.
Come on, Hermione! Focus! You can stop him, you know that you can!
'You worthless Muggle bitch!' he hisses. 'What right have you to a first name? You are less than dirt! Your
name is Mudblood; you deserve no other title.'
HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE!
I feel electricity shoot up through all of my body. It courses through me, flies through my nerves, my blood.
He comes all the closer to me and I feel his whisper harsh in my ear, full of mocking laughter.
'You are useless. Worthless. I don't need to prove to you how worthless you are if you don't know it already
then there's no helping you.'
Oh just FUCK OFF! Leave me alone leave me alone!
He wrenches my head round brutally to face him again, and he looks into my face intently for a moment
And then he slaps me again.
I can't bloody stand that bloody personal infliction of pain!
I hate him so so so much!
That electricity flies through me, coursing through my veins.
Focus, Hermione! Channel it!
He chuckles cruelly.
'As if I'd ever touch you,' he murmurs, 'you piece of muggle scum!'
Come on! Push it out of you! Force it through your fingers!
HATEHATEHATEHATEHATEHATEHATE!
I feel the electricity shoot out of me, through my fingertips, and suddenly he flies backwards, flies away
from me across the room, back, and back
He lands on the ground on the other side of the room, sprawled on the stone floor.
I look at him blankly through my tears, getting my breath back as I watch him pick himself up.
Oh my god.
I look down at my hands, spread my fingers out as I stare at them incredulously. My entire body feels
drained, somehow.
That that was me!
I did it! I did wandless magic!
173

I did it!
'Ha!'
I let out a tiny gasp of amazed laughter, because that was me, and oh yes, I told you I was magical didn't I,
you bastard!
He stands up, pointing his wand at me as I press myself back into the wall, because he still has his wand, and
that out-weighs my raw magical power.
But despite the pain and the agony that holds on to my body, I'm smiling. I'm smiling because he hasn't won,
not this time! I've won, me!
I've won!
And he knows it!
'You' he splutters, his face harsh with anger. 'You you little'
But it doesn't matter what he says, because I can do wandless magic, I can, and there's nothing he can do
about it!
Besides, he gave me permission to hurt him!
Though he never thought I'd be able to do it.
'I told you!' I whisper.
He storms over to me and he wrenches me up by the hair. I cry out slightly but I look him in the eye with a
new confidence, because he hasn't won this time, he hasn't!
He looks down into my face, pointing his wand directly into it, and he looks so angry but I just don't care.
He's lost this one!
'Damn it!' he hisses. 'Damn it!'
He lets go of my hair and grabs hold of my arm, pulling that tiny key out of his robes and holding it up.
'The west bedroom.'
And we're pressing into a tiny space, melting, dissolving, floating through blackness
We come to land in my bedroom. Well no, not my bedroom, but the bedroom I have been given in the
Black's house. The plain stone room with the bed, the wardrobe, the dressing table and the bathroom.
Oh, thank God I'm out of that horrible, horrible cellar!
He flicks his wand at me, and I collapse to the floor as I feel all of my muscles become completely lifeless. I
try to shift my muscles, but I just can't, and it's worse than Patrificus Totalus because my body can still
technically move
Why has he cast this on me? It's such a bloody cowardly thing to do!
And he he picks me up, and he carries me over to my bed, laying me down on top of its soft covers.
174

And then I start to panic.


He could do anything to me while I'm like this.
But he just sits down on the bed, and he summons the bottle of healing lotion over from my dressing table.
He dabs it on my face with his bare fingers, all over the new cuts and bruises he has no doubt inflicted on me
in the last hour. When he's finished he points his wand at me, and a warmth spreads over my body, making
all the pain and all of the hurt go away.
What the hell is he doing?
But I don't have time to wonder about it, because he leans over me, his face in view above mine as he
presses his wand into my ribs.
'I am going to allow you to move now,' he says quietly. 'But you are to stay perfectly still. If you so much as
twitch, I shall Crucio you until you don't even remember your own name.'
I feel a tiny shudder run through me as the curse lifts. I gasp as he presses his wand further into my ribs and I
spread my fingers on the soft silkiness of the bed-cover underneath me.
But apart from that I don't move a muscle.
He's still leaning over me.
'A little magic means nothing, Mudblood,' he says quietly, his face tight with anger. 'That you can perform
magic doesn't give you any right to practice it. Your blood still renders you unworthy to perform even the
most basic spell, do you understand me?'
And I nod, because it doesn't matter anymore. He's not winning now. He knows that he isn't.
Not that I'm winning of course. He's far stronger than me and he has his wand. And I can only do wandless
magic when I'm pushed into it. Right now, I only feel fear. The pain, the rage that pushed me on before,
they're gone to be replaced only by fear.
And fear isn't enough. I can't feel any of that electricity pounding through me now.
He presses his wand tighter into my ribs and he leans right over me, his chest touching mine through my
our robes, and I can feel his breath light on my face.
I I can't breathe, or think
Please, don't.
His free hand brushes over my cheek, his fingers gently grazing my face slowly, so slowly.
I suppress a shiver.
And then, oh god, he moves his hand down, down over my neck, down between between my breasts, and
further, down my stomach, and
No, please, don't!
But when he reaches my stomach he shifts his hand sideways rather than down any further, and it his
hand eventually comes to rest on my hip, pressing it down into the soft mattress underneath me
175

Underneath us
I hold my breath involuntarily as he holds me beneath him, his strong hand mercilessly pressing down on my
hip, his wand still digging into my ribs.
'I don't think I need to remind you that I am the one in control here.' His voice is so quiet, almost whispering,
and I feel his hand strong on my hip and his body pressing mine down onto the bed.
Oh no!
I'm absolutely terrified now, because I think he might he wants his control back, I know it!
'Do you understand that, Mudblood?' He presses his wand harder into my ribs and leans in even closer to me,
if that's even possible. 'I am in control, and there's nothing you can do to change that. I have power over you.'
I nod, tears of fear starting in my eyes.
Right now you do, anyway. But whatever you do, you know that I'm magical now. You know.
But he he doesn't do anything. He waits a few seconds after I nod, and then he gets up off of the bed,
stepping away from it, pointing his wand at me still.
'In any case, it is of no importance,' he says coldly. 'After all what is life, if not a series of fleeting
memories?'
What no he can't
He can.
'You coward!' I whisper incredulously.
A muscle goes in his jaw.
'Believe what you like about me, Mudblood,' he says quietly. 'It is of no consequence to me.'
He raises his wand.
No!
'Obliviate!'
I bolt up.
I can't have been asleep, can I? I only closed my eyes for a second!
But wait a minute, I'm I'm on my bed?
I look around me and I'm back in my room. Well no, not my bedroom, but the bedroom I have been given
in the Black's house.
But when?
And he's here, standing on the other side of the room, watching me with a face devoid of expression.
176

'I have brought you back to your room,' he says quietly. 'I believe that you have learned your lesson, and I do
not have any more time to waste on you.'
But I don't understand
'When did you bring me here?'
'Just now,' he says. 'You were sleeping when I returned, and so I brought you back here.'
But I don't remember falling asleep
Did I, though, without realising? I was just resting my eyes for a minute, just after I'd finished the food he
left for me after Ron had been taken out of the cellar by Dolohov
'Why didn't I wake up?' I ask blankly.
He doesn't hesitate.
'Why didn't you wake up when I first brought you to this room after I locked you in the cupboard
downstairs? I have ways of keeping you asleep when it benefits me.'
But the last time I saw him he said that he wasn't finished with me! Why has he changed his mind?
Don't question it, for god's sake!
He walks over to the door.
'It's late,' he says curtly. 'You should get some sleep.'
But if I've been asleep already then why?
He opens the door and he leaves the room, slamming it shut and locking it behind him.
I sit still on my bed, staring in silence at the closed door.
I shake my head. What's the point in trying to understand him? It's an impossible goal, really.
I get up off my bed and I go into the bathroom, running myself a scalding hot bath so that I can wash the
memories of that horrible cellar away.
11. Breakthrough
'If I be sane, then surely it is maddening to think that of all the foul things that lurk in this hateful place the
Count is the least dreadful to me; that to him alone I can look for safety, even though this be only whilst I
can serve his purpose.' Bram Stoker, Dracula

I scrub hard at the filthy ground with the ragged old cloth they've given me, trying to scrape away the dirt
that cakes the floor boards. They're so thick with solid filth that it's taken me what feels like hours just to be
able to tell what the original colour of the floor might be. My fingers are puckered up from the cold, filthy
water that fills the bucket I have to plunge my hands into repeatedly. My back aches like mad and my neck is
sore
177

But at least I've got Ron with me.


Bellatrix came to my room this morning and told me that the parlour floor needed cleaning, and that Ron and
I were going to give the house-elves a day off by doing it ourselves.
It was a few minutes after I arrived here when I realised that it's the same room that Lucius and I entered
when we first arrived here. The room in which I stabbed him. The room in which I changed everything
between us, made it personal
But surely to god it was personal before that? He tortured you half to death, for God's sake!
I take a deep breath and push all thoughts of Lucius away.
There's no furniture in here this time, though, and there are none of those strange, horrible objects that
littered the floor when I was last here. It must have been cleared away since my arrival.
They've locked us in here. They come in every hour or so to check on our progress, but apart from that it's
just me and Ron left alone in here.
I am grateful for it. It means that we can talk freely, at least, and help each-other through the simple yet
humiliating task of having to clean up for these bastards.
'Obviously,' Ron says for about the tenth time this morning, afternoon, whatever time it is, 'what's happened
is that mum and dad must have told the Death-Eaters that they'll work for them, whereas really they're
spying for the Order.'
I give a non-committal murmur.
'I mean, they'd never serve You Know Who, for God's sake!' He laughs a little hysterically. 'They just
wouldn't.'
'Of course they wouldn't,' I say quietly, steadfastly scrubbing at the floor.
Ron carries on muttering, half to me, half to himself. I think I hear the words 'wouldn't ever', and 'spying for
the Order' again.
I feel so awful for him. I can only imagine how guilty he must be feeling
Yes, you can. You feel that guilt every damn minute of every damn day.
I push that thought away, bury it deep inside of me.
What's the point? It'll come back to haunt you later, as you try to sleep. It always does
'Do you know who we bumped into when Lucius brought me down here?' I say, more to drive out my own
thoughts than anything else.
Ron doesn't look up from the patch of floor he's working on. 'Who?'
'Draco's mum.'
Narcissa Malfoy. His wife.
'Oh.' He doesn't seem nearly as interested in the subject as I am. 'Malfoy the ferret, I mean he wasn't with
her, was he?'
178

'No. It was just her, I think.'


'Is she staying here as well, then?'
'No, I don't think so. She was dropping something off for her husband, or something like that.'
There's a short silence. The only noise comes from the scraping of brush over wood.
'Do you reckon it's just us, Malfoy, Bellatrix and Dolohov staying here, then?'
I sigh. 'I guess so.'
What I don't tell Ron is about how it took all of my will-power not to tell Narcissa about her husband and her
sister. About how I couldn't stand how the pair of them were just standing there, talking with her. About how
it seemed perfectly obvious from her attitude to the pair of them that she has absolutely no idea what's going
on.
I don't tell Ron this, because he'll only want to know why I didn't tell her.
To be honest, even I don't know the answer to that.
It's just well, I don't have any reason to hurt her do I? She hasn't done anything to me. It's not her fault that
she's married to a monster, I suppose.
She married him in the first place, didn't she?
That's not the point. She probably doesn't even know him that well why the hell would she have married
him if she knew what he was really like?
Besides, it's not really my business, is it?
'I remember her from the Quidditch World Cup,' Ron mutters, pummelling violently at the floor with his rag.
'Does she still look like she's got a piece of shit under her nose and a pole up her arse?'
I laugh, almost guiltily. 'Well, she gave me a filthy look when she saw me. She said; 'This would be the
Mudblood, I presume?''
Ron exhales angrily. 'Bloody cow.'
I don't say anything to that. To be honest, given the choice between spending time with Narcissa Malfoy or
her bloody husband, I know which one I'd pick. She seems pretty harmless, in comparison.
She can't possibly know what he's been doing to me. I'm sure that she doesn't, otherwise she'd have taken
more of an interest in me than she did today, surely.
As it was, she just looked through me as if I were a pane of glass. I was nothing to her. Just a speck of mud
that happened to be in her line of sight.
She's beautiful, though, I'll give her that. Really beautiful.
They look really good together, her and Lucius. The ultimate ice couple. Cold, haughty, elegant, blonde, with
an almost identical sneer on their faces.
'She looks almost exactly like her husband, doesn't she?' I say absently. 'It's weird. They're so alike in manner
and appearance that they might almost be brother and sister.'
179

Ron snorts with laughter. 'Maybe they are brother and sister. Who knows how far pure-blood fanatics will go
to keep their blood clean?'
The smile is wiped off my face as the door swings open and Lucius strides into the room, sweeping his
haughty gaze across the floor.
Ron and I both freeze and look up at him, but Lucius rests his eyes on mine.
'You're not making brilliant progress in here, are you? I would have thought that a Mudblood and a Weasley
should be quick to adapt to servant's work.'
Oh, just shut up!
I look nervously at Ron, half expecting him to flare up. But he doesn't. He just presses his lips together and
goes back to scrubbing furiously at the floor.
Lucius breathes a small malicious laugh at him. 'There's no need for that, boy. You have finished your work
in here for today.'
He gestures to the open door behind him.
'You shall wash the floor in the corridor outside, while the Mudblood shall continue the work the pair of you
have already begun in here. Antonin is in there already, waiting to supervise you.'
Ron looks at Lucius as if he'd like to watch him suffer torments indescribable. Lucius just smirks at him.
'Please,' I pipe up nervously. Lucius' gaze flicks over onto me. 'Please can't he stay here? We'd get
everything clean a lot quicker if we worked together.'
Lucius smiles all the wider.
'Oh you think so, do you?' he drawls. 'I'm afraid that I cannot agree. It seems to me that the two of you will
work a lot more productively if you do not have each-other's company to distract you.'
'Oh, come on!' Ron says exasperatedly. 'What does it matter how quickly we get this place clean for you? I
mean, who the fuck cares how clean this dump is? Who's ever going to want to visit it?'
I press my lips together to stop myself from smiling. Lucius notices my expression, and his gaze narrows
before he turns and flicks his wand at Ron.
'Imperio!'
Ron's eyes go completely blank, and a tiny smile appears on his face.
'Stand up,' Lucius mutters under his breath.
Ron stumbles to his feet, his movements oddly laboured.
'You don't have to do that!' I say indignantly, but Lucius turns to me, his wand still on Ron.
'Be quiet, Mudblood, or I shall be forced to persuade him to leave the room the hard way.'
And so I keep still, and I keep silent, and I watch as Ron walks dreamily out of the door, as he shuts the door
behind him, and as Lucius flicks his wand at the door to lock it.
180

'That was unnecessary,' I say quietly.


He turns his cold gaze onto me. 'Why?'
'You didn't have to curse him into leaving. He would have done as you said if you asked him nicely.'
'I am not prepared to waste good manners on a Weasley,' he says coldly. 'It would be like casting pearls
before swine. Now, I want you to clean this floor for me, and I want you to do it in silence. Can you do that
for me, my little Mudblood? Can you manage to hold your tongue and do something productive with
yourself, for once?'
I grit my teeth against the flare of temper that threatens to erupt in my chest and I nod.
Bastard. Bloody bloody bastard. Does he ever get tired of being so completely and utterly foul?
I slam my fist into the bucket of water and slap the cold cloth onto the ground, my ears burning and my
breathing harsh. No-one has ever made me as angry as Lucius Malfoy makes me. Not his bloody son, or
Lavender Brown, or Snape, or Pansy bloody Parkinson, or Rita Skeeter, or Umbridge. I've never, ever hated
anyone as much as I hate him!
He's watching me. I can see him out of the corner of my eye, watching me clean the floor.
Yes, that's right. Gloat, why don't you?
And he does with words.
'I have to say,' he drawls, 'it's such a pleasant suprise to see you exercising some obedience for a change.'
Go away.
'Perhaps,' he says idly, 'when the Dark Lord triumphs we could allow some of the Mudbloods to live, after
all. They might make rather effective replacements for house-elves, don't you think?'
I raise my head.
'So what? You're saying that if you lot win you're just going to murder every single muggle-born? You're
not even going to give them a chance?'
Something rips across my forearm.
I swallow down, and when I flick up I gasp the sleeve of my robe there's a small gash on my arm. Not too
deep, but just deep enough to bleed, ever-so slightly.
I glare at him. He just smirks at me, his wand twirling leisurely between his fingers.
'I believe that I told you that you weren't allowed to speak,' he drawls.
'But you just-'
Another gash cuts across the one he's already made, deeper this time. Tears come to my eyes.
'Oh dear.' He smirks at me still. 'You just don't seem to be able to understand what I'm saying. And you do
know how I dislike it when you don't do as I say.'
I gulp down my tears and I drop my gaze, scrubbing hard at the floor.
181

'But I believe I can answer your previous question,' he says maliciously. 'I see no harm in that.'
Just go. Go away and leave me alone before I say something that I'll regret.
'The original plan was to destroy all of the muggle-borns as soon as the war was won,' he drawls horribly.
'But now that I have seen just how effectively Mudbloods can do the work of house-elves, perhaps I might
suggest to the Dark Lord that we allow some of them to live so that they can share some of the elves' work
load. It would only be the old ones we allow to live, of course. The ones that are no longer able to breed.'
'That's sick!' I stare up at him, hatred boiling my blood. 'That is so, so sick!'
Yet another cut rips into my arm.
And so I press my lips together, scrub furiously at the floor, and try to ignore every word he says.
Oh god, let me see Lucius Malfoy suffer. Let me see his bones crack. Let me see him bleed, and scream, and
cry. Let me see him humiliated at my feet.

I curl up into a ball on my bed, shivering, huddling the blankets over me for warmth. I pull the huge,
oversized man's shirt I'm sleeping in tight around me.
It's bloody freezing in here.
At home, my bed was next to the radiator. I never get cold at night, there.
I can't sleep.
If I were at home I'd be able to turn on my bedside lamp and read a book, or reach for my old teddy for a
cuddle.
Tears come to my eyes and I press my lips together. Home. I'll never see it again
I take a deep breath and press my cold finger-tips to my eyelids, pushing the tears back inside of me. I turn
over on to my back, looking up at the ceiling that I can't see through the darkness.
It's Lucius' fault. He's the reason I can never get any sleep. At night, when I have nothing else to think about,
all I can do is wonder at the mystery of him at what makes him tick.
Why did eventually get bored of taunting me today? Was it because I ignored him?
Maybe if I always ignore him, then perhaps he'll stop taking such pleasure in tormenting me. After all, when
I started to ignore him today he didn't even speak to me as he brought me up to my room afterwards.
But why was he looking at me so strangely before that?
I already knew he was watching me while I was cleaning the floor, but the expression I saw on his face when
I looked up at him for a split second wasn't what I expected.
It was a very odd look. It was as if he was studying me - trying to work something out about me that he can't
quite fathom.
Oh, I don't know. I'd do anything to know what he's thinking, sometimes182

A creak.
My breath stops in my chest as an iron fist grabs at my heart.
I know that sound. It's the slow, groaning creak of my door.
It shuts.
It clicks.
It's locked.
I bolt upwards, staring into the darkness, bunching my sheets up in my hands in terror.
'Who's there?' I can barely get the words out for fear.
No answer.
Breathing. Heavy too heavy
I can't see anything!
'I said who's there?' My voice shakes out of my throat, the darkness swallowing my words.
No answer.
Light footsteps move cautiously and ever so slowly across the room.
Is it him?
No, it can't be! What the hell would he be doing here at this time of night?
What does it look like he's doing?
But but he said that he wouldn't! He said that he would neverDon't tell yourself that this hasn't always been a possibility.
I suppose it's always been a fear of mine, ever since he turned up in my bedroom at home
But I can't oh god, please, I I
The footsteps stop at the foot of my bed, and the breathing grows heavier, more ragged.
I don't breathe, because I can't. I just curl in on myself at the top of my bed, cringing with fear.
'Lumos!'
My breath leaves my body in a giant, frightened rush.
That wasn't his voice.
Light filters into the darkness of the room, illuminating the intruder.
183

Dolohov stands at the foot of my bed, leering at me horribly in the dim light.
Oh, god.
'Good evening, my dear.' His face is twisted into a gruesome leer.
I scramble quickly off of my bed, untangling myself from the bed clothes.
'What is it?' I ask, hugging my arms defensively around my chest. 'What do you want?'
Why did I ask that, why?
He runs his tongue over his lower lip. His saliva glistens in the wand-light.
'I think I've made that perfectly obvious already, don't you?'
My insides all clench up tight and do themselves in knots as he come closer, closer, backing me quickly into
the wall until I'm pressed into the cold stone, not even able to breathe for fear. His breathing grows heavier
as he places a hand on the wall by my head.
The wand light dances in his dilated pupils. He runs his eyes over me, north and south.
I bolt to the side, but his arm clamps around my waist, pinning me back against the wall.
He stinks of alcohol.
'Get away from me!' I hiss at him. He laughs softly, his grip on me tightening as I struggle.
'Oh come now.' His breath is hot on my face, making me gag. 'I've already seen your body. The rest comes
naturally, wouldn't you agree?'
He grips at my face, wrenching it to the side. Something hot and wet runs along my cheek
He's licking my face!
I think I'm going to be sick.
'Mmm.' He pulls back from me, smacking his lips as I take deep, nauseous breaths. 'You taste fantastic. So
young, so fresh, and yet so undeniably dirty. I can almost taste your filthy blood through that delicious skin
of yours.'
'FUCK OFF!' I scream in sudden rage, and I try to hit out at him but he slaps me across the face. Not as hard
as Lucius does, but hard enough.
'If you touch me-' I spit the words at him, but I realise then that I don't know what to say. What could I
possibly threaten him with?
'Yes?' he asks mockingly. 'You'll do what, exactly?'
No. I remember. He must do, too
She's a Mudblood; remember it
There's one thing I can threaten him with, for all it's worth.
184

I take a deep, juddering breath. 'If you touch me,' I say again, 'I'll tell L-Lucius'
He laughs out loud at that. 'And do you really think he'll care?'
I suck in my breath shakily. 'He stopped you before,' I say desperately. 'And he'll do it again!'
'Will he?' he asks mockingly, and his hand shifts upwards, up onto my breast, squeezing it hard through the
thin shirt. I wince as the touch, the horrible clumsy brutality of it. 'And why would he do that, do you think?'
Does he want me to answer that?
His hand twists at my breast, and I struggle harder against him, but he points his wand at me and I find
myself stuck to the wall, with only my head being left mobile. I press my lips together to stop myself from
bursting into tears.
'Would he stop me, perhaps, because he doesn't want anyone else to touch his little Muggle whore?' He spits
the word out at me. His long nails dig into my breast. 'Oh yes, I've guessed at what's going on between the
pair of you. But don't worry; the Dark Lord doesn't need to know about it. Just as long as you promise to be
nice to me.'
What the hell's he talking about?
'Be nice to you?' I hiss, trying in vain to struggle against the invisible force that holds me against the wall.
But I can't move. Can't do anything. 'I'd rather eat Botuber Pus!'
'Manners, Mudblood.' He squeezes my breast roughly through my shirt. 'I bet you don't talk to Lucius like
this. I bet you let him do whatever he likes to you.'
'I don't know what you're talking about-' I start, but he slaps me across the face again.
'You know exactly what I'm talking about, you little bitch!' he hisses.
And his hand moves away from my breast, moving down, down my stomach, and I struggle for all I'm worth
against the power that holds me to the wall as my legs lock together automatically, all of my insides
clenching with fear.
'GET AWAY FROM ME!' I scream before I spit in his face. He grabs me by the shoulders and slams me back
into the wall. I cry out as my head bags against the stone, sending shock-waves of pain pain pain through my
body.
'You uppity little brat!' he hisses at me. 'You let him do what he wants readily enough, don't you? You spread
your legs for him, I'm sure! Why can't you do the same for me? What is wrong with me?'
His words slam into me like fists in my stomach. They knock all the wind out of me.
I open my mouth, and I scream. Scream.
He clamps his hand tight over my mouth.
'Shut up and do as I say, or I swear I'll make things worse for you-'
'What the hell do you think you're doing?'
I gasp in sheer relief.
185

I didn't even hear the door open!


Dolohov turns around.
The dark figure in the doorway strides swiftly over to us, pulling Dolohov away from me.
Thank god, thank GOD!
Dolohov's wand falls out of his grip as he's thrown to the ground, and for a moment it illuminates Lucius'
face. The expression on it terrifies me. I've seen him angry before, of course I have, countless times. But
now he's staring at Dolohov with such pure, white-hot rage that if I were Dolohov I'd be almost crying in
sheer terror.
My body comes free of the wall.
I stumble forwards and I run. I claw my way out of the open door, stumbling into the corridor, hearing only
furious shouting coming from the two men I leave behind.
But they're not yelling at me. They're yelling at each-other.
I don't care, I don't. Don't care, don't care, couldn't care less.
I run. My feet move with a life of their own, taking the rest of me with them. The corridors are dark, but the
occasional flamed torch lights my way. I run and I run, down empty corridor after empty corridor, without a
clue where the fuck I'm heading.
Tears stream down my cheeks as the cold air slaps my face and my bare legs. The ice-cold stone floor stings
the soles of my feet.
I feel disgusting. I can feel him on me. And he'll be back for more, I know it. How can I escape from him?
And that's not the worst thing. The worst thing is
I fall against the wall, banging my knee painfully, clinging to the cold stone to support myself. Only now do
I let the tears fall.
'he doesn't want anyone else to touch his little Muggle whore '
I heave a huge sob as I slide down to the ground.
How could I have ever believed that I was safe from this? I knew that Dolohov wanted to he made it
obvious from the moment he first came to my cell.
And Lucius? What about him?
I used to think that I was safe from him in that respect, at least. But it's been different these past few days.
Footsteps. Swiftly moving footsteps.
I don't stop to think. I run as fast as I can, through hallways and corridors, no idea where I'm headed.
Through light corridors, and dark, stumble through the dark, find the light again and run, on and on. I can't
let him find me, I can't
The footsteps fade behind me, but I don't stop running.
186

I stagger up flights of stairs, up and up, and along more corridors and up more stairs, weaving my way
through the house with no idea where I'm going.
Where can I go? I can't go back to my room, or over the river, and I don't even know where I am in this
bloody place anyway.
I stumble into a long corridor, sobbing wildly as I run, slamming myself against the door at the end of it and
swinging it openOnly then do I stop running.
I'm standing on a balcony that looks out into darkness.
It must be the inside of the cave that this house hides itself in, I suppose.
There's no railing on the edge of the balcony. It just leads right off into thin air.
I lean over the edge. I must be very high up. Just looking over the edge makes me feel dizzy. The water-bank
and the lake seem to be miles and miles away.
My toes curl over the edge.
How easy would it be? Just to step right off the ledge, fall through the air and end it all? To forget
everything, to make everything stop, all the pain, fear, hate and guilt.
I should feel fear. But I feel nothing. I've gone numb.
Sensation comes back to me when I take another look over the edge. My stomach does back-flips over and
over again. God, it's far. I'd have plenty of time to watch the ground hurtling towards me.
I roll my eyes up, wishing more than anything to see the night sky one last time.
But there's nothing there, of course. Just the darkness of the ceiling.
I take a deep breath and I close my eyes. A lone tear creeps down my cheek.
I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I love you Mum, Dad, Ron, Harry
I throw my arms outBut something clamps around my waist and I am pulled back, back onto the balcony and into the corridor. I
struggle against it, because I know that it's Dolohov back for more, and I won't won't won't let him touch me!
I'll kick him, and then I'll throw myself off the balcony before he can get hold of me again
I start to scream but a hand clamps over my mouth as I am pulled back into the corridor and slammed into a
dark alcove. I struggle against him for all I'm worth, but he's strong, too strong.
He pins me to the wall in the alcove, pressing me into it with his hand clamped over my mouth, stopping my
screams.
But I can't see! It's so dark I can't even see him!
Tears roll down my cheeks, falling onto his fingers as they clamp mercilessly over my mouth.
But I don't think it's not Dolohov, I know it.
187

'I won't let you kill yourself.' The voice mutters this quietly, darkly, full of threat, but it's not Dolohov's
voice. 'I won't let you take such an easy way out.'
It's Lucius.
It's Lucius pushing me into the wall now, with his hand clamped over my mouth.
I close my eyes, and my tears roll down onto his fingers.
I don't care. I wish my tears could stain him.
His breathing skates lightly over my forehead.
I open my eyes, trying to make his features out, but I can't see anything. I can only feel his body pressing
mine into the stone, feel his long fingers clamped over my mouth. His thumb digs in under my jaw.
His fingers shift slowly away from my mouth, so slowly, but he keeps his other hand pushed into my
shoulder. His now free hand moves down to grab my wrist, which is resting awkwardly on his chest.
On his chestI clench my fingers into a tight fist.
'What did he do to you?' he asks quietly.
I try to keep my breathing steady, and I don't answer him.
We stay like this for ages, still together in the darkness. All there is in the world at this moment is him
pressing me into the stone, and his hand on my shoulder. His warm handThe fingers of his other hand dig into my wrist. I can't see his face, but I know that it's different, somehow,
from whenever he usually gets this close. He's not mocking me or trying to intimidate me this time. I don't
know how I know this, I just know
Right. That's it. This ends now.
I squirm against him.
'Let go of me,' I whisper, furious at how tears are starting in my eyes again.
He remains silent for a second, but then steps back, releasing my wrist and my shoulder. I don't run away,
even though I know that I probably should.
I still can't see his face.
'There's no need to be like that,' he says, his voice mocking but the words ringing hollow, somehow.
'Don't you dare' I can barely get my words out. 'Don't you dare mock me, not after what just happened.'
There's a long pause.
I wrap my arms defensively around my chest, hugging the huge shirt tighter around me.
He sucks in his breath, ever so quietly. 'What exactly did he do to you?' he asks, his voice perfectly still and
controlled.
188

I press my lips together. I don't want to tell him. I don't want him to know
'You tell me,' he says quietly. 'I don't want to have to force the truth out of you.'
But how can I tell him that?
'He didn't do anything.' I have to force the words out. 'He would have done, if you hadn't turned up. He said
that I had to be n-nice to him.'
There's a long silence, punctured only by my breathing.
It takes me a while to realise that I can't hear him breathing anymore.
He steps out of the alcove, into the dim light of the corridor. The blue torchlight throws his harsh, furious
features into sharp relief. He looks so angry it hits me like a kick in the stomach.
'I noticed that Antonin was drinking a lot this evening,' he says quietly, 'but I had no idea that he was
planning to go to your room.'
But I don't understand!
'If you had no idea that he was going to my room then why did you turn up in the first place?'
His face sets itself hard, and he slaps me hard across the cheek. Tears sting my eyes as I grip at my sore
cheek.
'Don't think you can get away with any further impudence, Mudblood.'
'I wasn't-'
'And don't flatter yourself that I was there specifically to see you,' he cuts across me. 'My own room is quite
close to yours. I heard your screams as I made my way down the corridor, and so I went to see what was the
matter.'
'Why is your'
I let the question disappear into thin air. He narrows his eyes, though he knows what I was going to ask.
'My room is close to yours because Antonin has frequently suggested that he should like to pay your room
a visit,' he says quietly. 'Upon our arrival I made sure that my room was close to yours so that I could prevent
such an incident should it ever occur.'
'So you're my protector, now?' I say coldly, tears clinging to my eyelids. I'm furious because he can't claim
that title, not after everything he's done to me. 'But can you protect me from yourself, that's what I want to
know?'
A muscle goes in his jaw and he reaches out quickly, putting his hand to my throat. He pinches at it cruelly,
making me choke.
'For your sake, I'm going to pretend that you didn't say that to me,' he says, his voice quiet and still with
contained rage. 'I don't think I need to remind you that I was not the one who came to your room tonight
looking to dirty my hands on a Mudblood.'
Oh god, no, that's not what I meant! I wouldn't ever suggest that again, not after what he did when I last
suggested it
189

Something flickers at the back of my mind then, just for a moment, but I I can't work out what it is.
'Do I make myself clear?' he asks quietly, pinching harder, harder.
I can't do anything more than nod. He holds me still for a moment, before he lets go of my throat. I gasp and
massage at my sore neck while he looks at me intently.
'Why would you kill yourself?' he asks quietly. 'Why would you do something so foolish? Antonin's not
worth it, believe me-'
'It's not just him,' I say, my voice blank and barren because I'm not angry anymore. I'm just broken, and sad,
so sad. 'I've lost my family, and my friends, and I've led my very best friend to his death because of my own
stupid weakness. I've seen things that I never thought I would have to see, and I'll never be able to forget it.
You forced me to give up my principles. You have taken everything I ever believed in and turned it into a lie.
What do I have to live for? I have nothing left.'
He stays perfectly still. He does nothing - he just looks at me long and hard, with no emotion and no pity in
his gaze at all.
'And you call me a coward?' he says eventually, quietly. 'I'd never take such an easy way out. I thought you
believed in fighting your way through things. That's the Gryffindor mentality, isn't it?'
'Perhaps I'm tired of fighting,' I say, my voice flat. 'Besides, I don't see why you've suddenly decided that me
fighting things out is a good thing.' I shake my head and breathe a tiny, joyless laugh. 'You're such a
hypocrite. You just need me alive for whatever you've got planned for me. So what's up for me now, then?
More torture, more pain, more humiliation?'
A long silence spreads out between us. His face remains completely unreadable.
'We do have further plans for you,' he says eventually. 'I'm not going to deny it. Plans that require you alive
and well. So come.' He steps back from me and goes to the door that leads to the balcony, shutting it and
locking it with his wand. 'I shall return you to your room, and I don't want to hear any more suicidal
nonsense from you.'
'I don't want to go back there,' I say quietly, and I can't stop my voice from cracking. 'He'll come back, I
know it.'
He looks at me very intently, and the look in his eyes it's something that I don't recognise at all.
'Damn,' he mutters under his breath.
He turns away from me for a moment, leaning against the wall with his back to me.
I wish I could know what he's thinking. Right at this moment, I have no idea what to think about him.
'I stunned him before I came after you,' he says with his back to me. 'If you come back with me now I'll get
rid of him for you before he can wake up, and I shall personally ensure that he doesn't come back for you
again.'
I swallow sharply.
He stunned him? He stunned his friend, his fellow Death-Eater?
'Come.' He turns back to me with a face devoid of expression, and he grips me by the shoulders, pushing me
roughly in front of him and down the corridor.
190

We arrive back in my room to find Dolohov sprawled across the ground, his eyes closed and his face
expressionless. I might almost think that he was dead, if I couldn't see his chest rise and fall as he breathes.
I wish that he were dead. I hope that the sick, sick bastard dies in the most horrible, unimaginable way
possible.
No. No, I won't wish for that. I won't be like them
But how can I not be? They've brutalized me. Quite honestly, I could kill Dolohov slowly and painfully with
my own bare hands right now, and I wouldn't think twice about it.
Lucius crouches over him, checks his pulse, then pulls one of his eyelids up and looks into his eye by the
light of his illuminated wand.
'He's knocked cold.' He stands up and picks up Dolohov's wand, which I didn't notice lying on the floor. 'I'll
take him back to his room,' he says without looking at me. 'He will not bother you again. I shall make sure of
it.'
'Thank-you.'
Why did I say that? What am I thanking him for, after everything he's done to me?
'Don't thank me, Mudblood.' He looks at me with hard eyes. 'I didn't do this for your benefit. Antonin has a
responsibility to his position. A pure-blood cannot afford to risk involving themselves with a Muggle-born.
Who knows what kind of offspring that might result in?'
I feel sick. He might have saved me from Dolohov, but it wasn't anything to do with me. It was all to do with
his bloody pure-blood supremacy bollocks.
Were you really expecting any different from him by now?
'Voldemort himself is a half blood,' I say quietly. 'Did you know that?'
He raises his wand. That same old magical slap stings my cheek, and it's still the same old Lucius. He cares
nothing for me. Nothing at all. I might as well be shit on his shoe for all he cares for me.
'Do not disrespect your master with that filthy lie,' he says quietly, his voice pulsing with anger. 'It is nothing
but ridiculous propaganda spread about by Dumbledore. You might be foolish enough to believe it, but I'd
like to believe that you're not foolish enough to repeat it.'
I thin my lips out and I take a deep breath. I'm going to try and get through to that one bit of humanity I saw
in him earlier this evening.
'Alright,' I say shakily. 'Say it is just propaganda. Say it's all lies spread about by the Order. But your friend
Severus Snape; he's definitely a half-blood. I've seen a newspaper cutting that proves it. His mother was a
witch but his father was a muggle. If you despise anyone who's not a Pureblood, then why are you such good
friends with him?'
A ghost of a smirk crosses his face, but his eyes remain hard. 'The blood of half-breeds may be inferior,' he
drawls, 'but at least they get their powers from somewhere. I can put up with them for that reason. They have
some basis for practicing magic.' He looks down at Dolohov for a moment, his lip curling up in rage again.
'Even so, they are inferior. And so no pure-blood should willingly pollute their blood line. It makes them the
worst kind of blood-traitor.'
191

'So what would you do if Draco married a Mudblood or a Muggle?' I ask, trying to keep my voice calm and
reasonable.
'I would disown him,' he replies without hesitation, looking me straight in the eye. 'If he were to deliberately
and knowingly pollute his blood-line, then he would be no son of mine.'
I just gape at him. It's just I can't believe how anyone could be so twisted in their beliefs. How can he
value his own ridiculous prejudices above his own son?
He stares back at me for a few seconds, before he turns to the door, locking it with his wand.
NoI automatically hug my arms around myself, but he doesn't even look at me. He just reaches down and grabs
Dolohov by the arm.
I breathe again, lowering my arms.
'You should go to sleep,' he says curtly, pulling the transportation key out of his robes.
'Do you really think I'm going to be able to sleep again tonight?' I ask quietly.
He flicks his gaze up to me, and our eyes lock onto each-other for a moment. 'Get some sleep,' he says again.
'The North tower.'
The key glows bright red and both men disappear, leaving me alone in the pitch-black of my room.
I feel my way towards my bed, clambering onto it. I press my back into the headboard, staring out into the
darkness with my eyes wide open, too afraid even to blink.
12. Betrayal
'For the eyeing my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heartIt really goes.
And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood
Or a piece of my hair on my clothes.' - Sylvia Plath, Lady Lazarus

My breath stops as I hear a small shifting noise in the corner of the room.
I kick myself back, pressing myself as hard as I can against the headboard of my bed, fear knotting my
insides. I raise the candlestick above my head. It almost slips from my hand, slick with sweat from the hours
I've been holding it. I press my eyes into the blackness of my room in a desperate attempt to see who it is.
'If you come near me I'll kill you, I swear-'
'Accio Candlestick!'
192

That whispered incantation cuts through my words, and my only defence flies out of my hand and into the
darkness.
Whose voice was that? It was only a whisper; I can't make it out
A footstep.
I scramble under my duvet covers, pulling them over me in a useless attempt to hide.
'If you touch me I'll make sure that he finds out!' I scream from under the duvet. 'Don't you dare touch me-'
'Believe me, Mudblood, I have no intention of touching you.'
I gasp. Partly out of fear, partly out of shock, mostly out of sheer relief.
Of course it's him. I should have realised he's the one who owns the hand of glory. He's the only one who
can see me through the dark.
'Lumos!'
Light creeps in through the gaps in my bed-covers, but I don't shift them from me, because I don't care what
he says, he's a man, isn't he? What makes him any different from Dolohov?
I feel like I did when I was a little girl, when I was scared of the dark and I'd pull the covers right up over my
head, too scared to look out into the darkness of my room.
But now my fears are much more real, and much more awful, and I have to face them every moment of
every day.
I'd give anything to have the dark as my only fear now.
'Aren't you going to come out?' His voice is laden with malicious amusement.
Go away.
He sighs.
'I don't know why you're hiding from me,' he says with exaggerated patience. 'I thought we knew each-other
well enough by now that you might be able to distinguish me from Antonin Dolohov, of all people. In case
you'd forgotten, it was I who came to your rescue last night, much as it grieves me.'
Much as it grieves you? You bastard, you bastard, that's not what you said as you pulled him away from me,
was it? That wasn't what you said as you pulled me back from the balcony.
Yes, but as he said at the time, he only helped me because of his own prejudices and because he has a job to
do. It's not as if he cares about me.
I don't want him to care about me, anyway.
I huddle deeper under the bed-covers.
'Wingardium leviosa!'
The blankets rise up into the air, and I am left shivering in the light and the cold under his haughty, sneering
gaze.
193

I drag myself off the bed, and I stand before him, tugging at the hem of my shirt.
'My, but your bad manners will never cease to amaze me.' He smirks. 'I knew that muggles were lazy, but I
had no idea that they liked to remain undressed, in bed until' He pulls a small pocket watch out of his
robes. 'Nine o'clock in the evening.'
'Well, how am I supposed to know what time it is?' I mutter. 'It's not as if there's any way for me to tell, is
there?'
He points his wand at me and I feel a small shiver of pain run right through me. I gasp, but it's gone in a
second.
He sneers before he turns and points his wand at the bathroom door, which creaks open slowly.
'After you.'
I narrow my eyes at him as I walk slowly across the room, and he watches me walk into the bathroom with a
smirk on his face.
I hear the door shut behind me as soon as I enter the bathroom. I spin around. He stands in front of the closed
door, blocking my exit.
I swallow sharply. He smirks.
He flicks his wand at the sunken bath, and all the taps attached to it turn themselves on.
I stare at him, shaking with horror, but he just grins at my discomfort.
'What are you doing?' I ask, furious at how my voice is cracking.
His eyebrow twitches up as he flicks his wand at the taps again, which turn themselves off. I notice with
dismay just how quickly the bath has filled itself with water.
'You need to get yourself washed up.'
Breathe in, breathe out. Keep calm.
'Alright,' I say, desperately trying to keep my voice steady. 'I'll be out as soon as I'm done-'
'Don't be so ridiculous,' he snaps. 'I need to make sure you do a decent job of it. You need to be absolutely
spotless today. And I have seen what the Muggle notion of the word 'clean' entails.'
I wrap my arms around myself and I close my eyes, feeling my nose sting with tears as my body curls in on
itself with fright.
I don't even care what he needs me clean for. I know that he wants me to ask him, but to be honest, I couldn't
give a damn.
I'm not going to get in the bath in front of him, I just won't. After everything that happened to me yesterday, I
can't believe that he can even dare to ask it of me.
He's seen you naked before.

194

But that was so long ago! And it wasn't as if I had a choice back then, was it? Besides, things are different
now. Him and me our entire relationship has changed and evolved so much that I don't even know what it
was like when it first began
Relationship. That word seems wrong somehow, when describing what's going on between us.
I can't even remember what my life was like before he captured me. I can't remember the time before he
became so crucial a part of my life. He has become the very centre of my existence, and I just can't bear it.
He runs a disdainful glance over me.
'What on earth are you stalling for?' he drawls. 'You can't possibly be afraid of my intentions towards you?
You must realise by now that I'm not interested.' A cruel smirk flickers onto his face. 'I'm sorry to disappoint
you, but that's just the way it is.'
'Shut up!' I snap. I hate hate hate him! Why is he being like this? Last night I really thought that he might
have I don't know.
You thought he might have pitied you? Well you're an idiot then, aren't you?
He grins horribly.
'There's no need to be rude,' he drawls. 'Now, would you please stop wasting my time and get washed up!'
'No, I won't,' I say quietly. 'Not in front of you.'
He smirks mirthlessly and raises his wand.
'Imperio!'
Oh yes, fantastic. Anything to stay like this you know it'Take off the shirt.'
Do as he says, anything for him, anything
Pull the shirt open, undo the buttons, pop pop pop
But no. Wrong. So wrong.
'Pull the shirt off.'
Do as he says, as he wants, everything he wants, only he can take the pain away'Drop it to the floor.'
Let it fall from my fingers, smile, so warm, so peacefulCold.
Oh no, I'm warm. Just standing here in warmth. Who needs clothes, anyway? Nothing matters in this happy
haze, with his voice in my ear
Got to move. He can see everything
195

'Don't question it.'


Anything for you.
'Get in the bath.'
Sit on the tiles, slip my body into the water, so warm, anything for you, please, please don't leave me, don't
stop
The warmth and the happiness seep away from me.
And now there is only warmth up to my waist warmth of the bath water, I realise too late.
I quickly put my arms around me, shielding my horribly visible breasts from him, thanking God that the
water shields the rest of me. I press my lips together to stop the tears from swelling out of my eyes.
He just stands there, his eyes boring into me, piercing me, as if he would see past the hard shell I put around
myself and seek out the pain and the humiliation that lurks underneath.
I feel my face bloom under his gaze, because I was just oh God, that I just naked in front of him!
I'm still naked in front of him.
I I can't bear it!
He smirks. 'Now, that wasn't so hard, was it?'
I I can't bloody
Finally, I find words.
'You bastard!' I whisper. 'How can you make me do this, after what happened to me yesterday?'
The smirk disappears from his face. 'I thought you said that nothing happened to you yesterday.'
'Nothing did happen,' I say quickly. 'Not really, anyway-'
'Well, then, stop complaining!' He rolls his eyes in exasperation.
'Stop complaining!' I say incredulously, hugging my arms tighter around myself. How dare he! 'I haven't
slept for fear since the pair of you left my room! He molested me, and you stand there telling me to stop
complaining?'
His face is hard, completely full of contempt, and when he answers me he completely ignores what I've just
said to him.
'Are you going to get washed up, or do I have to Imperio you into doing that as well?'
But how can I? How can I wash myself up without letting him see me?
He sneers at me again.
'You may turn away from me if you wish it,' he says. 'In fact, I would find that agreeable.'
I turn around quickly, because I won't let him see the tears roll out of my eyes.
196

Don't listen. They're just words, that's all they are empty, meaningless noises.
Then why do they hurt so much? Why does every single word he ever says to me cause me so much pain?
I dunk myself under the warm water before rubbing at my body with the soap that sits on the side of the
bath. I can feel his eyes on me, boring into my back, and I wonder what the hell he's playing at. Why is he
insisting on watching me wash, for God's sake?
It doesn't matter. Just get through this. Survive today, that's all you have to focus on.
Until tomorrow, when you'll have to survive that
And the day after
I rub the soap all over my body and into my hair, before I dunk myself into the water again to wash it all off
of me. I emerge out of the warm water, my hair wet and dripping down my back, and I turn my head slightly
to face him.
There's nothing on his face that gives his thoughts away.
'Good.' He nods. 'Dry yourself off and then come through to your room.' He turns and leaves the bathroom
without closing the door behind him.
I pull myself out of the bath and tug a towel down from the rail attached to the wall, drying off my body and
squeezing all the excess water out of my hair before wrapping the towel around me, trying to keep as much
of my body hidden as possible. I walk cautiously through to my bedroom and he's there, leaning against the
wall. He points his wand at my head. I flinch, but I only feel a warm dryness pass over my hair. I feel as if
I've been sitting under a hairdryer for half an hour.
'Why are you doing this?' I ask quietly. 'What are you preparing me for?'
He doesn't answer. He flicks his wand and a bundle of white material appears in mid-air. He catches it before
it can fall to the ground and he hands it to me.
'Put that on,' he says curtly.
I shake out the material, and see that it is a long, white linen robe.
'Please-' I begin shakily.
'No,' he cuts me off. 'No, you cannot have any privacy. You can grow up, and act like an adult for once.'
I quickly turn around, pressing my lips together. I let my towel fall to the floor, pulling the dress over me as
quickly as possible. It fits well, as well as the green dress did, but it's a completely different kind of robe. It's
pure white linen, with long arms and a long skirt that reaches the ground. It's almost medieval, really.
I turn back to face him, and his mouth curves into a satisfied smile as he rakes his gaze over me.
'Good,' he murmurs. 'You look ideal. Like a martyr, an innocent little martyr.'
I blink.
Martyr?
I mustn't panic. They can't possibly I mustn't panic!
197

'What are you going to do to me?' I whisper.


He smirks and picks up the comb that rests on my dressing table.
'Comb your hair.' He hands the comb to me. 'That mane of yours looks a fright at the best of times, let alone
when it hasn't been combed.'
I slam the comb back onto the table.
'Not until you tell me what's going on!' I say, looking straight into those cold grey eyes of his.
An eyebrow twitches upwards as he continues to smile mockingly.
'Why don't you sit down and comb your hair?' He gestures at the chair in front of my dressing table. 'If you
do that for me then I shall tell you what I have planned for you for today.'
I glare at him as I lower myself into the chair, and then I turn to face myself in the mirror in front of me. I
pick up the comb and begin to tug it through the mess of knots that my hair has become.
'The Dark Lord has asked to see you. He has asked me to take you to his new head quarters.'
My heart stops and starts again. I drop the comb on my dressing table.
'W-what?' I whisper, watching as his reflection moves into the mirror as he stands behind me. He smirks at
me in genuine amusement.
'I believe you heard me correctly.'
'But'
I know why he wants to see me, of course I do. He's finally going to use me to get to Harry, I know it why
else would he want to see me? I've already given them all the information they wanted.
Lucius is smirking at me in the mirror. 'Yes? But what?'
I take a deep breath.
'Why?' I ask, even though I know the answer. 'Why does he want to see me?'
'I believe you know why. Didn't you ever wonder precisely why we have kept you alive all this time?'
I feel my insides contort themselves into knots as my breathing becomes tight.
'Alright. So you're going to use us to get to Harry-'
'Us?' he asks mockingly. 'Oh, you think that we're going to use Weasley as well as you. I'm afraid not. You
see, his parents wouldn't take kindly to us murdering their son after we'd promised not to in exchange for
their loyalty.'
Thank God Ron's safe, anyway. Thank God, thank God!
But murder?
I can't breathe anymore, I can't think. All of my body goes hot and cold and I start to shake.
198

I don't want to die! Not yet, I'm not ready!


That's not what you were thinking last night.
I stand up shakily and turn around to face Lucius. He's a lot closer than I thought he was.
'So,' I say quietly as I look up into his smirking face, 'this is where it's all going to end, is it? You're going to
kill me to get to Harry. You're going to be rid of me at last.'
He thins his lips out but he doesn't say anything.
'It will do you no good, though. My death will achieve nothing but to vilify you further in the eyes of the
general public and cause yet more hatred for your cause.' I pull my lips back into a small, hard smile even
though I'm shaking in fear. 'So kill me, and make me a martyr. People will always remember that you killed
a young girl to achieve your ends.'
He smirks back at me, enjoying this battle of words, like so many of the others we have fought with eachother.
'Ah, my little Mudblood.' He brushes his fingers onto my cheek. 'You are mistaken in your assumption. No
one will remember you. They will forget you. You will become simply another name in the long list of
people who died trying to oppose us.'
My heart clenches. I hate it when he touches me like this. It's almost as bad as when he tortures me. This is
horrible because it should feel more hideous than it actually does, because as much as I hate it, any human
contact not associated with hatred or violence means everything to me, and I I can't stand it!
I don't want him to touch me.
'It will achieve nothing for you,' I say viciously. 'People will hate you for it-'
'Well then, let them hate,' he drawls horribly, a truly evil smile spreading across his face. 'What does it matter
if we are hated, as long as we are feared? Adoration is fine indeed, but fear is all the more powerful in
matters of control, don't you think?'
Oh God, please, no, I don't want to die!
'Anyway,' he removes his hand from my cheek, 'we are not going to kill you today, as surprising as that may
be.'
What?
My breathing suddenly seems easier as my heart rises and swells like a balloon with hope. He sneers at me,
as if he knows how I'm feeling.
'Don't tell me this comes as a surprise to you. Of course we're not going to allow you to die until Potter
himself lies dead at the Dark Lord's feet. You are far too useful a tool to let go until that moment.'
The balloon bursts at his words.
I'm not going to show him my fear, or my pain. I harden my voice and try to force it to be as cold as his own.
'And how exactly do you think you're going to use me to get to Harry?' I breathe a tiny laugh that catches in
my throat slightly. 'You don't know where he is. You'll have to give away our position if you want him to try
199

and rescue me, and do you really think that he won't be there like a shot with half the Order in tow as soon as
you give away wherever we are?'
I smile at him triumphantly, but he breathes another mocking laugh and brushes my hair away from my face.
'Do you think we haven't already considered that? We're not fools, you know. And kindly don't play the cold
strategist, Mudblood. You simply don't have it in you.' He moves his hand down to my arm, gripping at it.
'Now come, the Dark Lord is waiting.'
I pull myself out of his grasp, struggling away from him. His hand closes round my wrist again but I twist
and turn against it because he can go to hell if he thinks that I'm going to go to Voldemort; that I'm going to
help him capture Harry. I kick out at him, but I miss and he's laughing at me and sod off you horrible,
horrible bastard!
I try frantically to peel his fingers off of my arm but I can't, and so it worked once so I'll try it again I
wrench his hand holding my wrist up to my mouth and I sink my teeth into his fingers, but I feel his other
hand in my hair, twisting'Don't you dare, you disgusting creature!' he hisses, before he whips his hand across my face. A slap burns
my cheek again, and again, and again. I cry out and fall to the ground, my head ringing.
'You will not fight against me, you ridiculous little girl,' he says coldly. My head snaps up to face him. Those
cold, pitiless eyes are as hard as stone. 'I do not have time for such behaviour.'
'Why are you doing this to me?' My voice cracks as I pull myself to my feet. 'Why are you treating me like
this? You saved my life yesterday; you saved me from Dolohov-'
'And I have given you my reasons for that.' His voice is as hard as his eyes, but I can't stop myself.
'Oh yes, and don't they work in your advantage?' I hiss in absolute rage. 'They're such a convenient cover for
any humanity you might hold within you, aren't they? I want you to tell me one thing you owe me that at
least.'
He says nothing, and so I continue.
'Why are you so ashamed of feeling pity for me?'
His face goes completely white and harsh with fury and he points his wand at me.
'I. Do not. Feel pity. For you!' He punctuates his sentence with burning, searing whip-like pains across my
back. I cry out and fall across the wall slightly, my chest heaving with my harsh breathing as I stare up at
him through my tears.
But there's no pity in his face, no humanity. I was an idiot to think that there ever could be. I am exactly what
he says I am stupid. Stupid to have ever believed that he might care for me on any level.
'I don't have time to waste on your ridiculous temper tantrums,' he says quietly. 'I have a job to do, and I can't
afford to keep the Dark Lord waiting. Neither can you. Stupefy!'
I feel a rush of wind hit me hard, all I can see is red, and then I see no more.

The darkness flickers away from me.


200

Something my wrist tugging, pulling - ow!


My eyes flick open, but everything's blurry and so I blink, and blink, and
My wrist is wrenched up by my side, being tied up with ropes by long, pale fingers to an ebony board behind
me. The rope pinches at my skin, and I gasp.
'You're finally awake then,' Lucius says with a smirk as he puts the finishing touches to the merciless knots
he has tied the ropes into.
Finally? How long have I been unconscious?
I look at my other wrist, but it's tied to the other side of me just as securely. I try to move my feet forward,
but they won't shift. They must be tied to the board too.
Well, at least you're standing up.
What difference does that make? I might as well be lying down, for all the good it would do me while I'm
tied up like this!
I look around at the horrible black gothic architecture that surrounds me. The room is practically empty apart
from the black, elaborate chair right in front of me.
A throne. Another throne, oh my God!
I start to shake, and Lucius feels it. His eyebrows flick upwards as he puts his finishing touches to the knots,
and then he turns to look at me with a small smile.
'So, I assume that your rabid curiosity is going to prompt you to ask me some questions.'
'Where are we?' I ask shakily.
He sneers. 'Where we are is not your concern. It's who we are here to see that is important. And you already
know who we are here to see.'
No.
I pull against the bonds that hold me, but they won't shift, they just won't'These are knots enhanced by magic, Mudblood.' He breathes a small laugh as he runs his fingers over the
mercilessly bound ropes. 'A wild dragon would be unable to break them.'
I choke back a sob of horror and I slump back against the board with horrible, horrible resignation.
'Well, well, well.' His voice drips with a world of malice. 'Have you finally lost some of you fighting spirit,
Miss Granger? How disappointing. I was so looking forward to watching the Dark Lord put you in your
place.'
The Dark Lord
'Whatever he wants to happen to me today,' I say unevenly, 'I want you to do it. Please.' He frowns, and I
take a deep, shuddering breath. 'I don't want him to hurt me. It'll be so much worse if he does it. Please,
will you I know what to expect from you, at least.'
201

He doesn't answer me. For long moments he just watches me intently with those bottomless eyes that contain
a world of hidden emotions that I'll never understand.
A door bangs open behind us and he shifts his gaze from me.
'My Lord.' Lucius sweeps into a low bow and backs away from me, and then a dark, hooded figure stands in
front of me, and all I can see are the red, horrible, soulless eyes of Voldemort.
I choke on a terrified mouthful of vomit.
'So, we meet again, Mudblood.' His horrible, cold voice makes me shudder.
I look past him to Lucius, who stands there with a smirk on his face, enjoying my discomfort.
Oh sod off! I'm not going to let this be so bloody entertaining for them!
'Why, so we do.' My voice shakes almost unbearably. 'What a remarkable talent you have for stating the
obvious, my Lord.'
The look on Lucius' face could almost make me laugh if the situation wasn't so desperate. It's like he doesn't
dare himself to smile.
Voldemort chuckles and I can't help it I look back into his face, and his long, spidery fingers reach out to
me...
No, NO! Don't you touch me, I can't bear it!
I feel cold, cold fingertips on my cheek. It doesn't feel anything like what Harry said he feels when
Voldemort touches him. There's no pain, none at all. But there's something about his touch that makes me
feel sick. I flinch automatically as his cold, almost scaly fingertips brush over my warm skin. So different
from when Lucius touches me
I bet you wish it was Lucius touching you now
Shut up!
I close my eyes.
'She's certainly a brave one.'
'Oh she's not as courageous as she likes to make out, my Lord,' I hear Lucius drawl. 'She gives into
everything I demand of her, given a little persuasion.'
'Well, she is only a child, after all.'
'Not such a child, my Lord, I think you'll agree.' My eyes flick open to look at Lucius as he speaks. 'What
makes her weakness all the more deplorable is the fact that she's a young woman, capable of incredible
strength should she choose to use it, but she does not.'
You bastard, you BASTARD!
'Hmm.' Voldemort moves his fingers down to grip my chin, turning my head this way and that as he inspects
me. 'She certainly looks better than she did the last time I saw her. She looks almost agreeable. And I like
this robe you've chosen for her. It adds just the right touch. She looks like a pretty little martyr, just the effect
I wish to go for.'
202

'That was what I was hoping, my Lord.'


Voldemort smiles down at me as I force myself to look up into his face, before he lets go of me and goes to
sit in the chair in front of me.
'Stand next to her, Lucius.'
Lucius does as he is ordered, and locks his gaze onto mine for a moment before he turns to face his master.
'I am going to open my mind to Potter once again, Mudblood,' Voldemort says quietly. 'It is the middle of the
night; he should be sleeping. And as he sleeps he will see images of your suffering. If you want to make
things easier for yourself I suggest you put on a good show for him. Do you understand?'
I press my lips together to stop the gasp of terrible realisation from coming. I should have known. The
connection between Harry and Voldemort Harry doesn't have to be here to see what's going on.
Voldemort sits back in his throne and closes his eyes, tightening his hands on the arms of his chair until his
knuckles look as if they're going to burst through the skin.
What do they hope to achieve by this, anyway? To make Harry lose all hope, maybe? To destroy his
willpower? If they hope to accomplish that, then they don't know Harry at all.
No. Voldemort knows Harry. They must be trying to lure him into some kind of trap, like they did by using
Sirius
But then, Sirius wasn't really there last time, was he?
Voldemort's eyes suddenly snap open, alive and bright and red. And then he smiles.
'Harry Potter,' he says softly, his voice hypnotic. 'Do you see your Mudblood friend, Harry? Do you see her?
She is completely at my mercy. She has been ever since she went missing all those weeks ago.'
He raises his wand.
'Crucio!'
Nooooooooooooo! NO! Please, I beg you, just make it STOP! Pain and blood and FIRE, blades, knives,
drills, burning, burning pain pain PAIN!
Slump back against the board. Heartbeat. Thumthumthum thum thum
Breathe.
My gaze falls on Lucius, who carries on looking at Voldemort. He won't look at me, why won't he look at
me?
I close my eyes, breathing harshly through my nose.
'You see how she suffers, Harry.' Voldemort's cruel whisper is relentless. 'You see how much pain she is in.
It's all your fault, you know. You brought this on her. Your friendship has ruined her life. But you can do one
last thing for her. You can save her, Harry.'
I feel fingers hook into my chin and wrench my head up to face Voldemort. Warm fingers. Not Voldemort's
fingers.
203

But it's Voldemort that's smiling at me.


'Would you like Harry Potter to save you, Mudblood?'
I suck in my breath.
'No.' I look right into Voldemort's red eyes, pretending that they're Harry's green ones. I pretend that they're
full of life and sparkle instead of dead and soulless.
'Harry, I don't need to be rescued, and neither does Ron. We're both fine. They're treating us as well as we
could hope for.' Those words stick in my throat, but I plough on regardless. 'You have to do what's needed of
you, Harry. Win the war. Forget about us and win the war.'
Voldemort starts to laugh then. He throws his head back and laughs. I look over at Lucius, who's smirking at
me lazily while shaking his head.
'Oh dear, what am I to do with such a brave little girl?' Voldemort's voice is full of cruel laughter. He sits
back in his chair, gesturing at me. 'Go on, Lucius. Show Harry Potter just how much pain his friend has to go
through because of him.'
My gaze snaps to Lucius, whose face has lost all expression as he raises his wand at me. His eyes lock on to
mine in the brief moment before the pain begins
From then on I know nothing but agony.

Oh God, I can't take it anymore!


Tears and blood stream down my face as he runs a knife down from my temple to my chin, tearing through
the skin, and he won't look at me. Ever since he started this, he won't look at me. He has done so much, so
much in the past hour or ten or however long I've been here, and I've burned and screamed and bled
And I'm crying now. Even as he pulls the blade away from my face I'm crying, my tears coming in sheets.
He won't look at me, and I know why.
I feel utterly betrayed. I don't know why; he's done worse than this to me before now. But yesterday oh
God, I thought things might have changed somehow. I thought that he might have started to pity me, or feel
something other than hate, at least, but now
Blood runs hot down my face, cooling off in the cold air. I lick my sticky lips and I taste iron. My sobs
gradually slow down to hiccups as I wait for whatever's coming next.
'Just say it, Mudblood.' Voldemort's voice cuts through me. 'Just tell Potter that you want him to rescue you.
That's what you want, isn't it? I don't think that anyone who could see you like this would deny that you want
to be rescued.
I shake my head, mumbling incoherently. I'm not even sure what I'm tying to say.
'Well then,' Voldemort says coldly, 'I must assume that what you have experienced so far has not made a
keen enough impression. Lucius, if you would be so kind.'
I look up at Lucius. His face is a marble slab.
204

'Lucius' I mumble. 'Lucius, please'


'Crucio!'

Aching, hurting, curse ripping, clawing through my guts, chainsaw dragged through belly, and it. Has. Got.
To. Finish!
I'm not even a person anymore. I'm sinking away, like a stone that's been thrown into water.
I let out a final wail and the curse leaves, before I feel whiplashes up and down my arms, again, and again,
and again once more no'Enough.'
Freedom from it is agony in itself. The memory of it is enough to burn me alive.
'Tell me, what is Harry Potter to you?' Voldemort says, pulling my head up to face him. Tears creep down my
cheeks, my nose, my chin. 'Your best friend, I believe. Since the age of eleven, he has been one of your
closest companions. Your hero, your rock the brother you never had.'
I move my eyes away from Voldemort and they rest on Lucius, who is watching me with such a strange
expression on his face. He's struggling to keep it calm, but exasperation, anger and something else I can't
fathom are trying to edge their way onto his face.
I keep my eyes on his, willing him to feel any small amount of pity for me.
'But where is he now?' Voldemort's cold voice goes on remorselessly. 'He has abandoned you. Is he so
wrapped up in his own games of heroics and his vendetta against me that he cannot rescue you when you are
in such pain? Is he not, then, the wonderful friend you believed him to be?' I flick my eyes back up to
Voldemort, and he smiles at me. 'Tell me the truth, as if I were him; do you want him to rescue you?'
Just do it, for god's sake,
But I can't, I can't!
I give a deep, aching sigh that's laced with pain.
Voldemort smiles at me.
'I'm a patient man, Mudblood.'
He lets go of me and Lucius approaches me again.

'Alright!' I yell, the unbearable pain burning, burning. 'I want Harry to come and rescue me. There, are you
happy?'
I let out another scream and I feel the bonds around my wrists and my ankles come away. I fall to the ground
at Voldemort's feet, shaking and shaking like nothing else on earth, feeling the aching twanging spasms of
after-pain run through me. God, even the shaking hurts like hell.
Why did I give in to them? Why why why why why am I so weak?
205

'That's enough, I think,' Voldemort says coldly. There are a few moments of silence as I feel the curse ebb
away from me, my consciousness returning to my body. I can feel my bloodstained robe cling to my body,
warm with blood, my blood, oh God.
My head swims.
'Potter, if you wish to see your friend alive again, be at the Weasleys' home tomorrow night at midnight. Be
aware that if you bring any members of the Order with you, the Mudblood will die immediately.'
My eyes flicker open to see Voldemort close his eyes for a few minutes, I assume to close his mind off to
Harry, before opening them again.
'That was very well done, Lucius.' He smiles. 'It's always pleasing to see one's servant doing a good job in
one's name.'
I roll my eyes up to Lucius. He doesn't acknowledge his master's words. He keeps his hard gaze on me.
A small, shuddering moan escapes my lips. I can't look at him, I just can't.
I close my eyes.
Footsteps ring across the floor, and a door creaks open.
'You can do what you like with her,' Voldemort says. 'Take her back with you or kill her now, if you wish it.
It makes no difference to anything. Even if Potter does go to the Weasleys' house he will take half the Order
with him, I am sure of it.'
Those words wash over me like water over a stone. I'm not as terrified as I know that I should be. I feel
dumb: I can't process anything.
There's a long pause.
'So I may, my Lord-'
'You may kill her if you wish it,' Voldemort repeats. 'No doubt you are eager to be rid of her. But if you do
kill her, make sure that you dispose of the body.'
Body. My body. Myself. Hermione Granger.
I am a body to be disposed of.
But I'm dying anyway, surely to god?
'The Weasleys are expecting a large party of Death-Eaters at their house within the next twenty four hours,
although they haven't been informed of the reason why,' Voldemort goes on. 'They certainly don't know
about the trap being set for Potter, so they might cause a problem or two when they realise what's going on,
but no matter. They shall be easily subdued. You shall lead the party of Death Eaters that shall wait there for
Potter and his inevitable entourage. You will capture him and bring him back here to me. Is that understood?'
'Of course, Master.'
'You will not fail me.' It's a command, not a request.
'My Lord, I will not.'
206

'Good. Until tomorrow, then.'


The door slams.
My eyes peel open.
Is he gone?
I I think so.
But Lucius is still here, standing above me. His brow is furrowed in a frown.
Kill her now, if you wish it.
It's the end. It's all going to be over, finally.
Oh God help me, please, if you're there, please help me
But why do I deserve any help? I've led Harry to his death, and Ron too. Not only them, but countless others
through the information I gave away when I was first captured. I deserve to die.
I close my eyes, but I feel a whip-like streak across my cheek.
'Look at me, Mudblood.'
I open my eyes and I look up at him through my tears, and for long moments all there is in the world is me
and him, as he watches me and decides whether or not to be rid of me, finally, just as he has always wanted.
I huddle in on myself, cringing with terror as I look up at this man- this man who I barely knew a month ago
but whom I now know more about than I ever wanted to - and I wait while he decides whether I should live
or die.
13. Unknown Emotions
'I could rest if you would not moan
Hour after hour; I have no power
To shut my ears where I lie alone.
I could rest if you would not cry;
But there's no sleeping while you sit weepingWatching, weeping so bitterly.' Christina Rossetti, The Ghost's Petition

Is his face really going to be the last thing I see on this earth?
It hovers over me, cold and pale and full of everything I hate in the world. I hate him so much that it hurts
me to even look at him, and now his face is going to be the last thing I ever see.
A small frown furrows his brow.
I look into his eyes, the eyes of the man who's going to kill me, to end my life!
No.
207

I roll to the side, but he grabs me before I can move more than a few inches, crouching down over me and
pinning me down with his hand at my shoulder, his merciless grip pushing me into the cold stone floor. His
fingertips burn into the bruised bare skin just above the neckline of my gown, my martyr's robe, oh Jesus!
He points his wand at my chest, his face hard and cold.
'Did I give you permission to move?'
I shake my head, jerking tears out of my eyes.
His mouth thins out, and his eyes oh, his eyes. Full of emotions I will never be able to name, pulling me
into their depths, deeper and deeper.
I'm drowning in those eyes. It's as if they're cold grey pools that you don't discover the depths of until they
close in over your head and you're left desperately trying to claw your way back up to the surface.
He nods.
'It must be done,' he says quietly, but whether to me or to himself I'll never, ever know.
He holds his wand to my neck, pushing the tip roughly into my pulse point.
Pulse point. Pulse. Heartbeat. Life! Right now, I am alive.
But he's about to take that away from me.
It's not fair!
Since when has anything about this whole situation been 'fair'?
He pushes the wand deeper into my throat. I squeeze my eyes shut and a high-pitched sob of pure fear
escapes my lips.
Oh God, oh God, I love you mum, dad, please God, help me, please, tell them I love them, please, save me
I wait
And I wait
But nothing comes.
'Are you afraid, Mudblood?'
Still alive. His pitiless drawl tells me so.
I force my eyes open to look into his sneering face.
'Of course I'm afraid,' I whisper shakily. 'Wouldn't you be afraid if you were about to die?'
'I do not fear death,' he replies coldly. 'Would I have chosen the path I have chosen if I did?'
I've got to stop shaking! I can't die without my pride, I just can't!
He feels me tremble, of course. He grins at it.
208

'Oh, Mudblood, what am I going to do with you?'


I can't stand it! He saved my life yesterday only to take it away today after torturing me half to death, and
not only that but he's toying with me when I'm about to die
'I'll tell you what you could do,' I mutter vehemently. 'You could do me the common courtesy of calling me
by name before you kill me.'
He sneers.
'Miss Granger-'
'Not Miss Granger,' I whisper, interrupting him. 'My name is Hermione.'
Hang on haven't I said that to him before?
His eyes glimmer in recognition. I must have said it before, but I can't remember when
'Your name was Hermione,' he says quietly. 'The dead have no need of names.'
The dead. Soon I will be one of them. I will no longer have a name; I will no longer exist
'I'm not dead yet, Lucius,' I whisper.
His open palm smacks across my face, snapping my eyes shut with pain, more pain. How much more pain
can I take before I die anyway? He would probably only have to Crucio me one more time and I'd be pushed
over the edge into oblivion
Oblivion. What if that's all there is, after all? What if there's nothing after death, just darkness, emptiness, oh
God!
'Give it time,' he murmurs. 'I need only to whisper the incantation, and it will be done.'
But I'm dying anyway, I know that I am. And not just because of the unbearable pain of the past few hours.
My life has been stripped away, gradually, ever since he captured me. Someone put a rope around my neck at
the very moment he apparated into my bedroom at home and it's been tightened and tightened ever since.
And now the final breath of life will be taken away from me.
I force my eyes open, and they lock onto his.
When he looks at me, does he see me, I wonder? I mean really see me? Or does he just see the Mudblood
that he's labelled me as?
It's not fair. When I look at him I don't just see Death-Eater, pure-blood, follower of Voldemort. I see Lucius
Malfoy. I see everything he is his arrogance, his pride, his determination, his cruelty. I see everything I hate
in the world when I look at him, and all he can see is a Mudblood when he looks at me.
I must have gotten in deeper than he did.
Did? You're using past tense already?
'If you're going to kill me, then just get it over with.' My voice catches in my throat. 'But please, make it
quick, and tell Ron and Harry that I'm sorry.'
209

His wand digs deeper into my throat, and I can't breathe or think but I keep my eyes on his. He can face up
to what he's going to do. He can watch the light leave my eyes.
My heart still beats, not stopped yet. I can feel it in my chest as I wait for the incantation.
Thud-thud.
Thud-thud.
Thud-thud.
But nothing comes.
His face is hard and his wand is planted firmly into my neck
But he can't seem to make his eyes agree with what he wants to do.
Help me help me help me! Please help me, God, if you're there, please!
His lip curls up in fury and exasperation and he stands up, drawing his wand away from my throat. I can
breathe again, and I massage at my throat.
'What are you-'
His boot slams into my ribs.
I cry out, curling up in pain. How can he do this to me when he's about to murder me? He's a sick, heartless'Get up.'
What?
I roll my eyes up to look at him, hardly daring to hope.
'You're not going to?' I whisper incredulously.
His face is so full of hatred that he's got no colour in his skin at all.
'The Dark Lord said I could keep you alive if necessary,' he snaps.
No, he didn't. He said Lucius could keep me alive if he wanted to.
'If the Death Eaters fail to capture Potter then you will still be of use to us. So, come on, get up.'
I I can't believe it!
I want to laugh and cry with relief. Everything's bright and clear and living, breathing
I'm not going to die! I don't even think or care about whatever he'll do to me tomorrow, he's going to let me
live! Christ knows why, but he is!
Thank God, thank you thank you!
'Come on,' he hisses, pointing his wand at me. 'Or do you want me to relinquish my decision to be merciful?'
210

I've got to get up. He looks furious; he could change his mind at any moment.
I roll onto my stomach and push myself up onto all fours, but my head swims and the room spins and I
collapse again, shaking on the floor.
But I've got to get up! If I don't, he'll kill me
There's a firm grip on my arm.
'Can you walk?' he asks quietly.
I nod, and I try to pull myself up again but I just collapse helplessly forward.
'Evidently, you can't.'
His fingers close round my wrist as he lifts my arm up, wrapping it around his neck. He puts one of his arms
under my shoulders and the other under my knees, and lifts me up in his arms.
I know that I should be struggling. I don't want him to carry me, not after everything he's done, and it doesn't
make any sense anyway because why doesn't he just Imperio me into walking with him?
It's just another sick game he's playing, I know it. And I've never really known the rules to the games he likes
to play with me.
But right now, I just don't care. I'm so exhausted and miserable, and his arms are so warm around me,
cradling me in warm release, like the Imperius curse, only so much more... I don't know.
I let my head fall against his chest, and the soft folds of his robes are warm on my cheek. I tighten my hold
around his shoulders, folding my fingers around his neck, feeling the warmth of his skin underneath his hair.
I feel him stiffen for a second. Just for a second, less than that, before he walks forward, out of the door of
this horrible black chamber.
After a few moments of walking down a dark corridor we come to some stairs; winding, spiralling stairs
which take us downwards, down and down until they stop, coming out into another hallway, and when we
turn a corner up ahead of us I can see a huge, elaborate door
'So you decided to let the girl live, Lucius.'
My breath stops in my chest and Lucius spins around with me in his arms.
Voldemort stands behind us, half hidden in shadow, and he's watching us with a smile on his face.
'My Lord, I-'
'Don't try to kneel down. You'll only drop her.' He steps forwards from the shadows. 'I was hoping that you
would let her live. Tomorrow's operation may well fail, and so she may still prove useful.'
I hear Lucius suck in his breath, and Voldemort smiles as he continues to stare at him unnervingly. I
recognise the look: it's the way Lucius looks at me when he's performing Legilimency on me.
'You are wondering why I gave you the opportunity to kill her.' It's not a question.
'Forgive me,' Lucius replies swiftly. 'I mean no offence-'
211

'Of course you don't,' Voldemort replies, that horrible, lipless smirk remaining on his face. 'If you did then
you would say what you think out loud rather than forcing me to withdraw it from your mind.'
I feel Lucius tense, and I experience something I haven't felt with him for a long while. A connection
between us. The pair of us united in fear.
'I gave you the opportunity to kill her because I wanted to see what you would do,' Voldemort says after a
while. 'If you had nothing to lose whichever option you took, would you let the girl live, or would you kill
her?'
'My Lord, you cannot question my loyalty-'
'I must question where I have cause to suspect,' Voldemort cuts across Lucius. 'I have spoken with Antonin.
He claims that your conduct towards the girl has gone beyond the call of duty.'
Ice fills my insides and I feel Lucius' grip on me tighten. His fingers bite into my knees and my chest, as if
he's forcing himself not to drop me.
'My Lord, Antonin is a liar,' Lucius says, and I have to admire his nerve for keeping his voice firm. 'He is
angry with me because I stopped him from forcing himself upon the girl. If anyone's conduct needs to be
questioned then it is his, not mine.'
'Indeed. I shall question him most thoroughly, for my stance on that particular matter of warfare still remains
intact. Do what you will with a witch, but a Mudblood woman cannot be touched.' Voldemort's gaze flicks
down to me for a second once again. 'Do you understand me, Lucius?'
'I always have, my Lord.' Lucius bows his head.
I start to shake slightly as Voldemort's gaze bores into me, his red eyes containing a world of evil that I
never, ever want to know about.
'You may go,' he says quietly.
Lucius inclines his head and turns, pointing his wand at the door ahead of us which swings open, allowing us
to leave this horrible place and get away from Voldemort and his horrible suspicions and lies.
And then I taste fresh air for the first time in days. Weeks maybe.
It's dark, so dark I can barely see where we are.
'Lumos!'
I look around us and all I can see are trees. Old, huge, twisted, gnarled trees. But when I look up as far as I
can without lifting my head, I can see the night sky, dotted with stars.
Before I was captured, I'd had a life-long love affair with the night sky. When I was little I used to spend
hours looking up at it, trying to count all of the stars. My dad had a book about outer space at home, and he
used to sky-watch with me, pointing all the constellations out.
'Hold on to me,' Lucius mutters. 'We need to Apparate.'
I reach out silently and I weakly clutch at the front of his robe, pulling at the soft folds of fabric. He looks
down at me for a second, but I just close my eyes.
212

And then I feel myself being pressed into an airless vacuum, smaller, smaller, until I'm about to burst and my
eyes are going to pop into my head
Cold, fresh air hits me again.
I open my eyes.
The lake. I'd recognise it anywhere I still have nightmares about thethings that live in there.
He lays me down on the bank. I lie still, too exhausted to move anything but my fingers. I spread them out
on the ground, feeling the cool blades of grass on my bare skin, savouring this one moment with something
that isn't connected to blood and pain.
I stay perfectly still as he calls the boat out to us, collecting his blood in a vial to ward off the creatures of the
lake.
I don't struggle as he wordlessly lifts me into the boat, climbing in after me and pushing it away from the
bank.
Neither of us speak as we float across the water, his arm tight around my waist.
He doesn't comment as I lean back, resting my head against him in sheer exhaustion.
I barely notice as he entwines his hand in mine, wrapping his long, pale fingers around my own bruised and
bloody ones.

'I don't see why you had to carry her here!' Bellatrix greets us as Lucius carries me into the house. She stands
in the hallway, glaring at us both. 'Your speciality is the Imperius curse, Lucius. Couldn't you have cursed
her into walking here?'
'Don't be so stupid,' Lucius replies coldly. 'I thought you prided yourself on your intelligence.'
Two pink spots appear high on her cheekbones. So that's where Draco got that little trait from, is it?
'Look at her.' Lucius completely ignores her obvious indignation. 'Look at the state she's in. She's hardly fit
enough to walk, is she?'
'Well, who put her in that state in the first place? Why don't you ask yourself that?' Bellatrix asks furiously,
voicing my own thoughts precisely. 'You knew what the Dark Lord wanted you to do this evening. And
anyway, what does it matter what state she's in? It wouldn't have killed her to walk, would it?'
'It may well have,' Lucius replies, his voice quiet and pulsing with suppressed anger.
Is she stupid, to push him like this? He's obviously angry, even I can tell that much, and I've only really got
to know him over the past few weeks she has to have known him for years.
Or does she actually barely know him at all?
'Believe me, I'm not carrying her around for the fun of it.'
She presses her lips together. 'Well then,' she sputters eventually, holding out her arms to him, 'I'll take her up
to her room now. Or maybe Antonin can-'
213

'He will do no such thing,' Lucius replies icily. 'I am perfectly capable of doing this myself. Go to bed, Bella.
We'll talk in the morning.'
He pushes past her with me in his arms and carries me up the stairs without saying another word to her.
'Will you come and see me tonight?' Bellatrix calls up the stairs.
He doesn't answer her.
He carries me to my room in silence, locking my bedroom door when we've entered it.
He lays me down on top of the soft covers of my bed, and my body sinks into the warmth of the mattress. It's
so beautifully soft, so wonderfully comfortable.
I feel the mattress sink down slightly as Lucius sits on the edge of the bed. I freeze, my eyes widening.
One of his eyebrows flicks upwards.
'Afraid of me, Mudblood?'
'Of course I'm afraid of you.' My voice comes out as a whisper. 'I've always been afraid of you, and you
know it.'
He smirks. 'At last, a little honesty. I have grown quite weary of your pretence of strength.'
I shake my head, my eyes filling with tears. 'Yes, because that's all it has ever been; a pretence.' I feel my
heart sink with every word I say, because I'm speaking the truth, God help me. 'You were right when you
said I was weak. Does that make you happy?'
He sneers slightly. ''Happy' is not the word I would use,' he says quietly.
'Good.' The tears fall out of my eyes and my voice cracks. 'Because I hate you for it, Lucius.'
A small smirk crosses his lips. 'That makes me happy. For there is no emotion stronger than hatred. I am
pleased that I have such a strong effect on you.'
I close my eyes. He delights in my hatred of him, the bastard. He thrives on it. He's told me as much before.
But to deprive him of my hatred would be to deprive me of that hatred, and I can't let that be taken away
from me. I need to hate him. It's the one thing stopping me from going completely insane, because if I stop
hating him then I just won't know what to think anymore.
Why am I even considering this? I hate him hate him hate him there's no question about that!
'No doubt you have always professed to hate.' His voice plunges into me like a needle, pulling out loathing
and pain. 'My son, the Dark Lord, Severus Snape; no doubt you've claimed to hate all of them. I doubt you
ever really knew what pure hatred was until I captured you. Tell me, do you know what true hatred is now?'
'Yes.' I open my eyes. 'Yes, I know what hatred is now. But I want you to know this - my one consolation
during my time here has become the thought of your death. Believe me, when you die all of my hatred will
die with you.'
He breathes a small laugh, reaching out and pushing a sticky strand of blood-soaked hair behind my ear.
214

'So, you wish to see me die. I can't say I blame you, after everything I've done to you. But tell me, do you
think to perhaps execute the sentence yourself, my little Mudblood? Is that what you're implying?'
He chuckles as I swallow sharply.
'I didn't think so, somehow. You just wouldn't have the nerve.'
You're one to talk.
He points his wand at the dressing table, summoning over the bottle of healing lotion that rests there. He
catches it and unscrews the lid, his eyes resting on mine.
I don't move as he uses his bare fingertips to apply the lotion to the new injuries on my face. The injuries he
himself has caused.
It's so ridiculous, not to mention unfair. Does he think that he can just erase everything he's done to me today
because he can make the wounds go away? What about the damage he's done to my soul, to my heart? Can
that damage ever been undone?
He delicately traces the new gash on my cheek with the cool liquid. He does it slowly, the very tips of his
fingers running over the opening in my skin.
I watch his face, waiting for any reaction he might show. But there's nothing. He's closed himself off. His
eyes are as hard and solid as stone, and just as impenetrable.
I don't understand. Why doesn't he just heal me with his wand? Wouldn't that be quicker?
I have more injuries than just the one on my cheek. There are cuts and welts and bruises on my arms, my
shoulders, my chest. He tends to them, as well. He rolls up each of my sleeves and strokes the lotion onto the
injuries there, over the welts caused by the spell that whipped up and down my arms, over the burns he
created with the tip of his wand, over the cuts he made with the knife.
And I know that I should hate it. I know that I should be screaming and raging at his hypocrisy, at his
horrible mind games, at the fact that he even has control over healing me on top of everything else, putting
me at his mercy in yet one more way.
But I can't hate it, somehow. How can I hate something that takes even a little bit of the pain away?
I close my eyes. I'm so tired. I just want to sleep.
But I can't ignore the pressure of his fingers.
Tears burn under my eyelids. I don't know why. I just feel like there's a huge knot being tied up in my chest,
and every time he touches me it's like he's pulling at the knot, pulling it tighter, tighter, until I can't breathe.
Every time he touches me like this it's like he's touching my soul.
He rests his fingers on the base of my throat.
I open my eyes as my breath hitches in my chest. His gaze flicks up and locks onto mine.
I blink, and a lone tear rolls down my cheek, falling off my chin and landing on his finger.
He pulls his hand back quickly. 'Do try and compose yourself.'
215

I hastily wipe the traitorous salty droplets off of my cheeks.


He sneers. 'Do you never tire of weeping? Entertaining as they were at first, I have to admit your incessant
tears are beginning to irritate me.'
I take a deep breath. 'Don't worry, Lucius.' I look him straight in the eye. 'You shall never see them again, I
promise you that.'
He pauses at that, before he smirks at me. 'Will I not? Not even tomorrow, when you witness the death of
your best friend?'
Fear clamps its hand round my heart, submerging me in icy water. 'He won't turn up at the Weasleys,' I say,
half to him, half to myself. 'The Order won't let him. He knows that this whole thing is just a trap he's not
about to waltz right into it-'
'Ah, but he also knows what will happen to you if he doesn't comply with us.' He breathes a tiny laugh. 'He'll
show up. He has too much to lose.'
'Including his life.' I try to keep my voice steely.
'Or that of his best friend. It's an interesting dilemma, isn't it? Especially for a brave, honorable Gryffindor.'
He smiles maliciously. 'But do you really think that someone with such an elevated sense of nobility will
allow his best friend to be killed in exchange for his own safety?'
I press my lips together. I'm not going to listen to him, because if I listen to him that'll make it real.
Like it isn't real anyway!
'You know, in a strange way I have a lot to thank you for.' His voice is like poisoned honey, as is his smile. 'It
is thanks to you that we have Ron Weasley in our grasp, and it is thanks to you that the Weasleys have joined
our ranks. You have provided us with wonderful information about the Order, and now you are about to
prove to be a most effective piece of bait for the Dark Lord's nemesis.'
I wish he'd stop. If he doesn't stop then I'll cry again, and I can't let that happen.
He smiles and trails a finger down my cheek. 'And through my work with you, I have risen to be a favourite
of the Dark Lord once again. I'm deeply in your debt, Mudblood. You've given me everything.'
How can he say that? How can he?
I won't let him win this one.
'No,' I whisper. 'Not everything.'
His smirk disappears and he stands up, stepping away from the bed, keeping his eyes on me.
'Nox!'
The room plunges into darkness.
No, stop it, I can't be alone in the dark with you!
There's a small crackling sound, and then suddenly there's the tiniest amount of light.
I see him placing a small candle on my bedside table.
216

'You should sleep,' he mutters, but he shows no sign of leaving. He just stands there, watching me.
I look at him for a few seconds, before I sigh, too exhausted to argue. I turn onto my side and curl up into a
ball. I don't even bother to pull the bed covers up over me, because I'm just too exhausted, and I don't want
to sleep in front of him, but maybe I could pretend to fall asleep, and then he'll leave. Yes I'll do that
I'll shut my eyes
just
for a little while

Darkness. Silence. Dull pain in my limbs.


Burning. I can smell it
The candle. It must be still be lit.
But I've been sleeping
I curl my arms up onto my pillow and I stretch, arching my back away from the mattress.
I roll my head to the side, and I open my eyes.
My breath drifts over my lips in a sigh as my eyes widen.
I didn't know he was still here.
He freezes, his own eyes narrowing.
But but I could have sworn that he was watching me, with the strangest look in his eyes.
But he can't have been. No. It must have been hours since I fell asleep. The candle on my bedside table has
burned down to a stub.
I keep my eyes on his for a moment, but his expression doesn't change from the new, hard look he's forced
onto his face.
My eyes slowly close themselves again, exhaustion washing over me. Perhaps I'm just dreaming. Maybe
that's it. Just a dream
I fall back into the darkness of sleep.
14. Twisted Negotiation
'ESTRAGON: It'd be better if we parted.
VLADIMIR: You always say that, and you always come crawling back.
ESTRAGON: The best thing would be to kill me, like the other.
VLADIMIR: What other? (Pause) What other?
ESTRAGON: Like billions of others.' Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
217

The rules of the game are as follows - the players will take turns to make their moves. Do not reveal your
hand to your opponent. If you choose to raise the stakes, do not bet more than you can afford to pay.

I start awake, consciousness ripping me out of my nightmares of blood and pain.


I can't even escape Lucius in my dreams. He's always there, at the back of everything. He haunts my
nightmares just like he haunts my waking hours.
I press my cold fingertips to my eyelids, trying to push the nightmare deep inside of me. Deep inside, hidden
until I sleep once again.
A draft pulls up goosebumps on my arms. I open my eyes, looking out into my room to see what's caused it,
and a gasp drifts from my lips when I realise that I'm not alone.
Dolohov is standing there, placing a large silver basin on my dressing table. His gaze flicks up onto me and
he straightens up, smiling at me.
My body shrivels up with terror and I pull my bedcovers up around me to shield myself from him, kicking
myself back up against the headboard.
A smirk twists onto his face. 'You needn't bother. I have a great amount of work to do this evening, and so
unfortunately I do not have the time to waste on you.'
His tongue floats over his lips.
I feel sick, like I'm going to vomit just from breathing the same air as him.
My gaze shifts over to the silver basin on my dressing table.
'It's called a Pensieve, Mudblood,' he says patronisingly.
'I know what it is,' I snap. 'What I want to know is; what's it doing on my dressing table?'
He smiles horribly. It's even worse than one of Lucius' smiles because at least Lucius at least Lucius
I know Lucius.
'I found it last night in Lucius' bedroom. Oh, I wasn't snooping around.' He waves a hand at the sceptical
look on my face. 'No, nothing like that. I simply wished to borrow some money, and Lucius always seems so
abundant in galleons that I thought he wouldn't miss a couple from his room.'
I choke back my automatic shout of disbelieving laughter.
'Anyway, I came across this,' he gestures at the Pensieve, 'in his room, and naturally I decided to take a quick
look. And oh, the things I have seen. Tell me; would you know why Lucius has decided to keep a collection
of certain memories concerning none other than yourself? Actually, I don't need you to answer that question.
I can't say I blame him for it. If I were in his position, I wouldn't be very happy about the possibility of
facing the Dark Lord, the greatest Legimilens the world has ever known, with those memories floating
around in my mind.'
Memories? Lucius has been storing away memories about me?
218

'I thought a trip in the Penseive might provide you with some valuable insight into just how important you
have come to be to your captor.' His mouth twists into another smile. 'And seeing as the Dark Lord seems to
be so unwilling to believe me about Lucius' conduct towards you, I thought that I might at least tweak the
situation for my own amusement.'
What the hell is he talking about?
He brings his wand out of his robe. 'I must confess, it would be entertaining to enter the Pensieve with you,'
he says idly. 'But as I said earlier, I have certain tasks to carry out this evening, and so I simply don't have the
time.'
Fear washes away my instant relief like cold water as he lowers his wand, pointing it at me.
'I must apologise in advance for what I am about to do,' he says mockingly. 'But I can't have Lucius finding
out that I've been rooting through his possessions. I don't think he'd take too kindly to the idea. No, I think it
would be best to let him believe that you found the Pensieve yourself.'
What did he mean by by?
'I wish you happy viewing, Mudblood.' He pulls a small silver key out of his robes, before he flicks his wand
at me. 'Obliviate!'
I start awake, consciousness ripping me out of my nightmares of blood and pain.
I can't even escape Lucius in my dreams. He's always there, at the back of everything. He haunts my
nightmares just like he haunts my waking hours.
I press my cold fingertips to my eyelids, trying to push the nightmare deep inside of me. Deep inside, hidden
until I sleep once again.
A draft pulls up goosebumps on my arms. I open my eyes, looking out into my room to see what's caused it.
Nothing. I must have imagined it.
The candle on my bedside table has gone out, but the candles on my wall are lit, casting a dull, golden glow
across my room.
Lucius has gone, then. Unless he's spying on me from under an invisibility cloak again.
But no. I was with Ron when he did that. He wouldn't spy on me when I'm by myself, it just doesn't make
any sense.
Is that why he was watching you sleep last night?
I shiver, and I tell myself it's from the cold.
But I can't stop thoughts from popping up in my head like weeds.
Perhaps it really was just a dream, a a nightmare.
I shake my head. Stupid. I must have been dreaming.
I breathe out a sigh.
What time is it, I wonder?
219

Time. That word sends a rush of alarm through me.


What if Harry's already gone to the Weasleys? What if he's already dead? What if he's already watched as the
people he loved like parents stand alongside Voldemort for the sake of their real son, watched as the jet of
green light shoots towards him
I leap from my bed, scrambling across my room to the door, almost tripping over the hem of my dress in my
haste.
I can stop it! I must be able to stop it, somehow! God, why didn't I try last night? Why was I so wrapped up
in my own pain and my own misery that I didn't try to stop it from happening? I'm such a bitch, I'm such a
bitch, how could I let it happen?
I throw myself at the door, banging my fists frantically on the solid wood.
But what can I do? Who am I trying to get through to?
I throw my head back and pull in a breath. 'Lucius!' I scream, pounding my fists into the door with all my
might. 'Lucius!'
No answer. I call more names out of desperation. 'Bellatrix! Dolohov! Lucius!'
I press my ear against the door, waiting for the sound of footsteps, or a shouted answer, at least.
Nothing. Just silence.
I let out a scream of rage and I kick out at the door, bruising my toe, before I turn around and slam my body
back into the solid wood, staring out hopelessly into my room.
Stupid. Do you really think they'd try to save Harry's life just because you ask them to?
A sinking, downwardly spiralling spin flies through my stomach.
I stay like this for a while, staring out blankly into my room.
It'll be alright. The Order won't let him go to the Burrow. And even if he does go, he'll take the Order with
him. The Order can win, they've done it before. Plus, the Weasleys won't let Harry be killed. They've treated
him like a son all these years, why would they let him be murdered now?
I let those comforting thoughts wrap me up like a warm blanket. I can't let myself think anything else. I must
believe them, because if I don't
Wait a minute.
There's a is that a Penseive?
It can't be! What would a Penseive be doing in my room?
I cautiously walk slowly over to the silver bowl that rests on my dressing table, peering inside of it.
But it really is a Pensieve. It's full of smoky wisps, twirling and swirling about in the bowl.
But whose memories are they? And what the hell are they doing in my room?
I look around me, suddenly nervous.
220

Maybe Lucius is here after all, in his invisibility cloak. Perhaps he wants me to look in the Penseive for
some reason, and he wants to watch me do it.
But why would he want to do that?
'Why don't you stop hiding, you coward?' I mutter savagely.
No reply.
I turn back to the Penseive, looking down apprehensively at the curling, spinning smoke that fills the bowl.
Without really thinking about what I'm doing, I reach out, placing the tips of my fingers into the smoke.
A hook catches at my waist, pulling me forwards, and I'm falling through smoke that turns and swirls around
me and I'm spinning, spinning
I land on my feet in a stone room.
It's almost like mine, but it's of much better quality. It's furnished well, with a four-poster bed and tapestries
hanging from the walls.
It's another bedroom in this house, I think. Strange it looks almost homely, if you could ever call this place
'home'.
Barely a second passes before two dark figures appear out of thin air. It's Lucius, holding onto the arm of an
unconscious Dolohov.
Is this a memory of that night? The night Lucius became my saviour in some bizarre twist in the black plot
that my life has become?
Lucius lets go of Dolohov's arm, sneering at his unconscious friend in genuine disgust before pointing his
wand at him.
'Innerverate!'
Dolohov's eyes flicker open drowsily, and he grunts in pain as he sits up, clutching at his head with his
hands.
'Get up, Antonin,' Lucius drawls. 'Show some dignity for once in your life.'
Dolohov stumbles to his feet, laughing bitterly. 'Dignity, Lucius?' He dusts himself off. 'Was it dignity that
brought you to the little slut's rescue, I wonder?'
Lucius grabs hold of him, dragging him viciously across the room and pinning him to the wall by his throat.
And oh, Dolohov looks afraid then. He looks in terror at the wand Lucius points into his face. All the terror
and fear I felt that night are now present in that slimy bastard's face, oh yes.
'This is not a game,' Lucius murmurs. 'She's a Mudblood. A piece of Muggle filth. If she were a witch then it
would be a different matter, but a Mudblood cannot be touched, you know that.'
Dolohov's face contorts with rage. 'Of course I know it, Lucius,' he hisses. 'Haven't you told me so many
times? It's amazing how it's one rule for you and another for the rest of us, isn't it? I wonder what the Dark
Lord would think about Lucius Malfoy, champion of the pureblood cause, playing with a filthy little
muggle.'
221

Lucius takes a deep breath through his nose, his face harsh and white with suppressed fury. 'As long as you
promise never to suggest such a disgusting thing again, I am prepared to let that insult go.'
Dolohov just smiles. 'Do I hit too near the mark, Lucius?' He practically spits the words at him. 'Does what I
suggest ring a little too true for you?'
'I'm warning you, Antonin-'
'We know all about it, you know. Bellatrix and I, we've discussed it. She hates it, you know. Hates what
you're getting up to with the little bitch. God knows why you're fucking a plain little Mudblood when you've
got a woman like Narcissa as your wife and a woman like Bellatrix in your bed. But then, maybe you just
want to get your hands dirty-'
Lucius smashes his fist into Dolohov's face. He recoils, clutching at his nose and yelling in pain as blood
seeps out between his fingers.
'You're a disgrace, Antonin,' Lucius says coldly. 'Don't accuse me of indulging in the same perverse practices
as you. I wouldn't touch the ugly little Mudblood with a bargepole, and you know it.'
Whispers of spoke curl through the air and Lucius' words float away as the room disappears around me, and
I come to land again in a room I recognise this time. The dark red light threatens to suffocate me as I find
myself in that horrible, horrible cellar.
And I'm there, rage at Lucius, screaming and shouting, my arms flailing and my face blotchy.
'So who would you suggest that I waste myself on, then? Someone like you, is that what you're suggesting?'
My stomach plummets.
God, did I did I really say that?
I watch, horrified, as Lucius puts his fingers to my lips. 'Be quiet my little Mudblood.'
He pulls me closer to him, pulls my hips up to his. The memory of me shivers in his arms, and closes my
eyes as he moves his face close to mine, close enough toBut then he pulls my head back and slams it into the stone wall. I flinch with remembered agony.
'How dare you suggest that I would even contemplate such a thing?' I can see his face this time as he
whispers in my ear. It's pale and harsh with absolute fury. 'Do you really think that I'd dirty my hands on any
Mudblood, let alone you you! Good god, just look at yourself! I'd sooner throw myself off a cliff than
touch filth like you.'
The scene shimmers in front of me and all at once I'm falling and spinning through smoke once more,
tumbling through the mist and fog of Lucius' memories.
Because that must be what they are. They must be his memories - he's the only person who has been in both
memories so far.
Though God knows why there's a Penseive full of his memories in my room. Did he put it there deliberately?
Does he want me to be seeing this stuff?
If he does, it doesn't make any sense. Why does he want me to watch these memories?
Maybe he doesn't. Maybe oh, I don't know. Maybe he left it there by accident, or something.
222

Don't be an idiot, Hermione. He's far from stupid.


But then that means
I emerge from the fog in another bedroom, a lot like Dolohov's but bigger, grander.
And the room's not empty this time. Bellatrix is there, sitting on the very edge of the four-poster bed, her
whole body rigid and her fingers clenching into the mattress beneath her.
She's looking out into the room, her black eyes feverish but focused on nothing. Her lips are pressed together
so firmly that the skin around them has turned white.
The door to the room bangs open, snapping her to attention. She stands up to face Lucius, who storms into
the room, obviously furious for some reason. But the expression on her face matches the anger on his.
'Where have you been?' she demands furiously.
Lucius sighs, shutting the door behind him without even looking at her. 'The Mudblood,' he says simply, and
her face visibly tenses at his words. 'She was creating problems. My business with her overran.'
'I don't see why you need to be spending any time with her at all!' Her voice rises furiously as she speaks.
'You finished your questioning of her days ago. Why do you still need to spend so much time with her?'
He gives her a warning look but he doesn't snap, not yet. He walks over to the table, looking down at the
glasses of jewel-red liquid that rest there.
'What kind of wine is this?' he asks.
'Like it makes any difference!' she shouts. 'Do you know when I got back after going to see the Dark Lord?
Four hours ago. When I got back you said you would come to see me within half an hour.'
'And I am sorry for it,' he says with exaggerated patience. 'But she proved to be more difficult than I thought
she would.'
'Why do you spend so much time with her?' She's almost screaming now. 'What could possibly be so
interesting about the little muggle bitch that you spend all your time with her?'
'Bella, calm down.'
'No, I won't! How can I calm down when you're deliberately setting out to humiliate me?'
'No-one is humiliating you-'
'I hate you!' she screams suddenly, grabbing the glasses of wine from the table and throwing them at the
wall. They smash against the stone, the shattered glass hanging suspended for a moment before falling to the
floor, leaving a trail of red in their path.
'Oh for God's sake!' Lucius yells, and she rails at him, trying to scratch at his face with spread, claw-like
nails, but he catches at her wrists, holding them just inches away from his eyes.
'I know you!' she hisses at him. 'If you haven't already had her, then you will soon enough. You're too proud
to admit that there's something in this world that you can't have!'
He draws back his hand, as if he's about to slap her in the face. I know that he would if it were me. But he
lowers his hand after a few seconds, his face suffused in temper.
223

'I am a proud man, indeed,' he says quietly. 'But at least I am not insane.'
Smoke curls up around me, blocking the scene from me as I float once more through the fog.
She's she's out of her mind! She needs help, serious help.
I smirk at the thought of Bellatrix Lestrange on a psychiatrist's couch. If anyone ever needed serious therapy,
it's her.
I emerge from the mist, and I'm in my bedroom once again. My bedroom in this prison that they call a house.
But I'm not out of the Penseive. I know that because I can see myself right in front of me, sleeping on my bed
in the blood-stained white dress I'm wearing now. The flickering light of the candle on my bedside table
casts eerie shadows across the room.
And he's here too, watching me sleep just as I thought I dreamed he was doing.
But I can't have been dreaming. The evidence to the contrary plays itself out in front of me, like a bizarre
version of CCTV footage.
I'm lying curled up on my side, and he's leaning against the wall, staring down at me from under lowered
eyelids, and and
The memory of me stretches up, with my arms around my head, arching my back up away from the mattress,
and my memory's mouth falls open and breathes out a sigh.
My stomach knots itself to see it. I look at Lucius to see one of his eyebrows raise a fraction.
But then the memory Hermione's eyes flicker open, focusing on him, and his face instantly hardens.
But now it's confirmed. I wasn't dreaming, and I wasn't imagining the look on his face. I now know for
certain how he was looking at me as I as I slept.
'What are you doing?'
Ice wraps itself round my heart, because that voice didn't come from the memory I'm standing in.
I spin around to see another Lucius standing in the room, so now there are two Lucius' and two Hermiones.
One Lucius watches the memory of Hermione intently, while the other is staring at me, the real me, with a
face full of white hot rage.
I try to turn, to run god knows where, but he's too quick. He's next to me in two strides and he grabs me by
the hair, burning my scalp with his grip and I'm being dragged up, up through smoke and mist
I land with him in my room. My real room, not the one from the memory. The solid bang of the wooden
floor on my knees tells me that this environment is no memory.
He drags me up onto my feet and across the room, slamming me into the wall with his hand clasped
painfully around my throat. He stares at me with such rage that it terrifies me.
'How dare you?' His knuckles snap against my cheek as he slaps me hard. 'You filthy little Mudblood, how
dare you?'
'I'm sorry,' I sputter desperately. 'I'm really sorry! I didn't know they were your memories!'
224

'No?' He spits his words at me. 'Who else's would they have been? You stole that pensieve from my room,
you little thief! Don't tell me that you didn't believe it was mine when you took it from my own room!'
'I just woke up and it was here, I swear!' Even as I say the words I know how ridiculous they sound. Why
should he believe such a rubbish explanation, even if it is the truth? 'I didn't steal it!'
'You LIAR! Why on Earth would it be in here? I haven't moved it from my room once!'
'I DIDN'T STEAL IT!' I scream. 'How could I have done? I've been locked in here ever since you left me!'
He holds me by my hair, holding me so close that I can see every harsh line of fury on his face.
He points his wand right between my eyes. 'Well, however you came to view those memories, you won't
remember them.' His voice struggles to keep calm. 'I shall make sure of that.'
And I know then what he's planning to do. It doesn't even take me a second to work it out.
'No you will not!' I struggle furiously against him. 'You will not obliviate me, you coward!'
'DON'T CALL ME A COWARD!' he yells.
'FINE!' I scream back. 'Go ahead, obliviate me. You'll need to, I suppose, after the things I've seen, you
coward! I've seen you fighting with your friends about me, I've seen you watching me as I sleep-'
'CRUCIO!'
Oh god, NO! I can't take it burns and claws and rips, a huge MONSTER tearing me apart, eating me alive
- never ending, all encompassing pain! Fire, and ice, and more fire BURNING through me, white hot wires
slicing through nerves, bones, skin, muscle, please, please, pleasestopplease, burning alive, ashes, ashes, got
to finish, I can't TAKE it anymore. Never ending, never ending, blood boiling, brain melting, nerves
shredding, I can't, oh god, please, just let me die, need to die, need that release, let me die, PLEASE!
Crumpled in a heap on the floor. Heartbeat roaring in my ears.
Everything hurts, still. The memory of pain hurts.
Got to breathe
Breathing hurts.
He's never gone that far before. He's never, ever let it last that long, never let it go so far, so extreme.
Fingers hook into my chin, pulling my head up slightly from the ground.
I open my eyes. His features are thick with rage.
And I know that I don't care. He can obliviate me, because I don't want to fight him, not again, not anymore.
I would do anything and everything before I go through even the slightest breath of that pain again.
'Go on, then,' I whisper weakly. 'Go ahead and obliviate me. I don't care, just do it.'
A muscle goes in his jaw, and he stands up, kicking out at me. I coil in on myself, crying out on pain as his
boot crushes my ribs and tears of agony burst from my eyes and roll down my cheeks.
'Get up, you filthy little Mudblood, get up!'
225

'I can't,' I whisper, my voice cracking with tears as I curl up in agony and misery and sheer exhaustion.
I keep my eyes shut tight, and a huge, engulfing silence swells up between us, a silence full of unspeakable
words.
He breaks the silence.
'How did you manage to get hold of it?'
I shake my head, although I don't know what difference it'll make.
'I didn't,' I say weakly. 'I promise you, I just woke up and it was on my dressing table.'
'And you expect me to believe that?'
My eyes fly open. 'How could I have gotten hold of it? Just think about it. I've been locked in here.'
He runs a horrible disdainful glance over me, his lip curled up in true disgust. 'Perhaps you made a deal with
Antonin,' he says quietly. 'Perhaps you offered to let him get his hands on you if he did you a service in
return.'
He might as well have slapped me in the face.
I sit up, shaking with the depths of my indignant rage. 'How can you say that? How can you even suggest it,
for god's sake?'
His pale face arches with distaste. 'Perhaps you realised that although you may not have much to offer there's
always one method of payment a woman can offer a man.'
My skin crawls.
'You bastard,' I whisper, hating him. I thought he knew me better than that.
He strides over to me and grabs me by the hair, wrenching me up and pinning me against the wall. Tears
sting my eyes as fear clamps its icy hand around my heart.
'Please-' I whisper.
But he just hooks his wand under my chin, placing the cool wood against my neck.
It's strange, how an object can hold so much power. Right now, it's just wood. Cold, inanimate wood, that's
all it is. Stupid to feel so frightened of it, really.
Yeah, right.
'What did you see?' he asks quietly, his eyes boring into mine.
What did I see? I saw Bellatrix and Dolohov hating him because of me. I saw him letting me think that he
would rape me. I saw him watching me as I slept.
'Nothing important,' I mutter.
His face is mere centimetres away from mine.
Can he see what I saw? Does he know what I've seen?
226

He steps back, slapping me so hard across the face that my head snaps backwards and I slide down the wall,
down and down until I reach the floor.
'Damn you!' he mutters in a savage undertone. 'Damn you to hell!'
He turns around and summons the penseive to him before he disappears with a flick of his cloak.
I curl up into a tight ball, waiting for the shivering to subside. Trembles of pain run through me still, or is it
only remembered agony?
I close my eyes, wanting to block everything out.
'I know you. You're too proud to admit that there's something you can't have.'
My body shrivels up with the memory of Bellatrix's words, and all the implications they have.
I shudder, hugging my arms around myself.
What if what if what she said wasn't so ridiculous after all?
When I woke up I would have thought nothing of it. I would have though that she was a stupid jealous bitch
who was only creating trouble for me because she's jealous of me, for some reason.
But now after I've seen how he was watching me sleep
I I can't bear it! I don't know what to think!
But he wouldn't, would he? I'm a Mudblood, he wouldn't ever want to he's told me over and over again
that he wouldn't.
His contempt and his hatred have become, in some perverse way, the only things that protect me. I can't let
them be taken away from me, I just can't.
So you want him to hate you? You needn't worry about that. He probably hates you more than anything else
in the world.
A shifting noise.
My eyes flicker open.
He's back. His snarl of fury remains in place.
'Get up!'
I scramble to my feet, and I stand shaking in front of him.
'What you have done today, I am prepared to ignore,' he says with forced composure. 'Neither of us will ever
speak of it again, do you understand?'
I nod gratefully, swallowing my indignation.
He narrows his eyes at me. 'In any case, in light of recent events a few memories matter very little, wouldn't
you agree?'
I gulp. 'Recent events?'
227

He smirks mirthlessly.
A stone sinks in my stomach. 'Harry?'
His smirk is replaced by a sneer as he rolls his eyes. 'He's alive, if that's what you're wondering. Alive and
free.'
There's no air at all in my lungs.
'Free?' I repeat the little word breathlessly.
He shakes his head in irritation. 'He wasn't there, Mudblood. He didn't turn up. Either he's managed to close
his mind off to the Dark Lord, something I find highly unlikely in a boy of his age, or he chose to leave you
to your suffering.'
But I'm smiling. I'm smiling because I don't care that Harry didn't come to rescue me. I'm not selfish like
Lucius is I don't see my own needs as being more important than the greater good. Harry is alive, and he
can still win the war that's all that matters.
'Don't you dare smile, you little bitch,' he says violently.
I push the smile off my face with some difficulty. Harry's alive. I could almost dance with relief!
'You have little reason to smile,' he drawls. 'I have been ordered to provide the Dark Lord with some more
incentive for Potter to come and rescue you.'
A hot-cold rush of fear sweeps over me.
'Please,' I mutter desperately, reaching out and grabbing his hand. 'Please, don't torture me again, I beg of
you-'
He shakes my hand away, rewarding me with a stinging hex across my cheek. 'Don't touch me, Mudblood.'
Oh god. More torture, more pain. Isn't he just going to love punishing me for watching those memories of
his?
I hate him so much!
'Besides, whoever said anything about me torturing you?'
I look at him, hardly daring to breathe, hardly daring to hope.
He smirks. 'Or perhaps you do not yet find the incessant torture as tedious as I do. If you're so eager for me
to revert to old habits then I have no objections. I just thought we might like to probe some more
interesting options.'
Damn him. Why does he have to twist everything? Every conversation I ever have with him just gets tangled
like a blood clot until I can't make sense of it anymore.
I shake my head, swallowing my pride. 'I don't want you to torture me.'
He smiles horribly. 'Good. I am pleased to see that you are open to the idea of more interesting alternatives.
We shall explore those options most thoroughly, you and I.'
I press my lips together for fear of the unknown.
228

Breathe. Breathe. In. Out.


'Tell me, has your dear friend Harry ever met your parents?'
'You know that he has,' I mutter. 'Why do you-'
My words stop.
My heart stops.
No. NO!
He's still smiling.
'You disappoint me, Mudblood. I expected you to be quicker off the mark than that.'
I can't think for the awfulness of it. All I can think is No!
'You can't-' I whisper breathlessly.
'I think you'll find that we can,' he replies smoothly. 'Of what importance could two filthy muggles be to us?
They're perfectly disposable, as far as we're concerned.'
I'm numb with horror. Can't breathe, think, feel
I just stutter out words of pure fear and desperation.
'Please.' I grip at the front of his robes by the lapels. 'Please don't hurt them. I beg of you, please, they haven't
done anything to deserve it!'
He laughs with pure malice. 'They brought an abomination like you into the world, didn't they? Besides, you
needn't worry. We have no intention of hurting them. The Avada Kedavra curse is designed to be as painless
for the victim as possible.'
'Avada Kedevra?' I whisper.
He smirks without any joy, his eyes completely at odds with his lips, and my horrible fears are confirmed.
My entire world is being ripped apart. It hurts like no other torture ever has done before. Crucio is sweet in
comparison to this.
'Please don't kill them,' I babble frantically. 'Do anything, I beg of you. You can torture me, kill me instead, I
don't care, but please, please don't kill them-'
'But why would we want to kill you while Potter still lives?' he asks. 'Why would we throw away such a
prime piece of bait? We could kill your parents to show Potter just how serious we are about killing you, and
no doubt he will then come running.'
I gasp at the horror of it. His pale, evil face swims in front of me, and I think I'm going to faint.
'Please.' My voice cracks. 'Please, I beg you, you don't have to do it!'
'I'm afraid I do,' he murmurs. 'These orders come from the Dark Lord himself. You are my responsibility,
therefore it falls to me to deal with your family.'
229

The tears come thicker out of my eyes as I search his face for any hint of emotion, any at all. And there is
something, something deep in his eyes, hidden, where no-one can see it.
'Please, if you have any compassion, any pity for me if you feel anything for me at all-'
He cuts off my words with a hard slap across the face.
'Feel anything? For you?' The malicious smile has vanished from his face. 'You don't even exist to me, you
filthy little Mudblood!'
'That's not true, and you know it!' I know I should shut up, but I can't. I've got to got to got to save my mum
and dad. 'If I meant nothing to you then you would have killed me when you had the chance-'
He draws back his hand to slap me again but I fall to my knees by his feet before he can do anything.
'I'm begging you on my knees, please don't do this!' I'm crying, lost in desperate misery. Sobs tear out of me,
despite my best efforts to keep them down. 'I'll do anything, but please don't kill them!'
He smiles down at me cruelly with eyes as hard as stone. 'I told you this would happen in the end, didn't I?'
he drawls viciously. 'I told you I'd make you beg on your knees in the end.'
'Well I'm doing it!' My voice cracks and wavers as sobs burst out of me in hot waves. 'I'm doing what you
want, I'm begging on my knees. I will grovel by your feet every moment of every day if you just let them
live, please, I beg of you!'
There's no emotion at all on his face. He's forced it all away from him.
'No.'
'WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?' I scream helplessly. 'I'll do anything you want, please, anything!'
He rips his robes out of my hands and grips me by the shoulders, wrenching me to my feet and pinning me
against the wall.
'And what,' he hisses, pressing his body into mine, 'do you think that you could ever offer me to make me
disobey my orders?'
I swallow sharply, my tears drying on my cheeks with this new, sudden fear that envelopes me in it's cold
embrace.
Fear. Lucius Malfoy has become it's personification for me. Lucius Malfoy is Fear, and it's Fear that pushes
me into the cold stone behind me now.
My mouth falls open stupidly as I try to say something, but words won't come.
He laughs. I shiver.
'Lost for words for once, Mudblood? Has that infernal tongue of your been stopped, finally?'
What can I say?
He trails his finger down my cheek, down my neck, and I can feel a scorching, burning blush creeping across
my face. He sees this, of course; his eyes never leave my face. He smirks.
'You arrogant little muggle,' he murmurs silkily. 'What could you have to offer me?'
230

My stomach curls up with humiliation. I just want to sink to the floor and die.
I turn my head away, tears swelling up in my eyes. My parents oh god, my mum and dad.
Merciless fingers hook into my chin.
'Look at me.' He murmurs the words, then trails his finger up and down my neck. Up and down
I catch my breath in a tiny gasp. He raises his eyebrow.
'You thought to make an exchange, then.' His fingers creep down my neck, down, brush over my bare
shoulder. 'But you seem to forget; your skills in negotiation are somewhat lacking. You threatened to kill me
once, remember? You offered me my life in exchange for your freedom. And look at where you poor skills of
negotiation got you then.'
Yes, look where they got me. Hours of punishment at his hand. Being used as bait for Harry. Parents that are
about to be murdered for his cause. And now him. Pressing me into the wall, with his fingers on my neck.
Voila. What results I achieved for that one moment of idiotic naivety.
'Now.' His fingers trace along my bare shoulder. 'What do you propose to offer me today, seeing as it's not
my survival that's on the table?'
He can't mean no, it can't possibly be what it sounds like. I'm a muggleNo you're not. He only thinks you're a muggle, remember?
That's not the point. I am a muggle, he thinks I'm a muggle; either way he'd never want to he'd never want
to
'Hmm.' His fingers hook into the neckline of my dress, easing it gently off my shoulder, leaving it horribly
bare. 'You don't seem to be very forthcoming in your desire to offer me something in return for your parents'
lives.'
I gulp.
He does mean that. He must do.
But why?
I try to stop myself from shaking. 'I'
He circles his thumb over the gentle curve of my bare shoulder, tying a knot low down in my stomach.
'Well?'
No, I'm not going to play this game with him. He'll have to force me if he wants to wants to oh god,
how did I end up in this situation?
'I'll admit that I'm a muggle,' I say desperately. I hear my own words and I realize how stupid they sound.
'Once and for all, I'll genuinely admit it.'
'And what difference would that make to me?' He's almost laughing at me. 'I don't need you to confirm your
status as a filthy little muggle to me.'
I suck in my breath.
231

His thumb skates tiny figures of eight over my shoulder as his body presses into mine. I can't breathe for the
weight of him. One hand on my shoulder, the other on my waist. And one knee gently nudging between my
own
My insides lock.
Too close, always too close. He's nothing like Ron, who if anything has always been too afraid to get close to
me although I wanted him to. Lucius he's always been to close for comfort.
'I I'll serve the Death-Eaters.' The words fly out of my mouth before I can even think about them.
His eyebrow flicks upwards.
Oh god, what did I say?
Could I do it? Could I join these creatures?
No, I couldn't.
But then I can't let my mum and dad die, either.
'So, you'd join the Death-Eaters to save your parents.' He's smirking at me. 'Admirable, for such a close
friend of Harry Potter's. I always had you down as a definite future member of the Order.'
His fingers leave my shoulder, skating up to my face. He knots his fingers through my hair and wraps them
around the back of my neck. And I can't help it. I tip my head against them, slightly. Only slightly.
'But there's a flaw in that offer that you've overlooked,' he goes on in that horrible drawl. 'You're a
Mudblood. Mudbloods and Muggles are not permitted in the Dark Lord's service. Seeing as one of our chief
goals is to eliminate your kind, your presence in our ranks would prove to be rather self-contradictory.' His
fingers shift to my bare shoulder again, pulling the neckline of the dress down yet further. 'So perhaps you
might wish to enhance your offer.'
But but why would he want me for for that? He's always said that he would never, ever
He slips my robe further down my arm, and I claw out with my opposite hand, gripping at his hand.
He breathes a laugh. 'Such modesty. But I thought you said you would do anything to save your parents.'
I want to shrivel up and die.
'You said once that you would never touch me,' I say quietly, desperately. 'You said that you'd sooner die
than touch filth like me.'
His lip curls up. 'Why, so I did.' He uncurls my fingers from his wrist, before he brushes his fingers onto my
cheek, running his thumb over my lips. 'But this was not my suggestion, was it? It was you that suggested
that you would go to any lengths to save your parents' lives. Would you let go of your pride, I wonder?
Would my proud little Mudblood surrender herself to me, body and soul?'
So this is all about pride, then. This is all about the fact that he still wants me to admit that he's got all
reaching power over me.
But what can I do? He's twisted it all around so it seems like it's my fault and it's not, it's not!
232

He looks at me from under lowered eyelids, a small smile playing about his lips. A dangerous, predatory
look.
But but I'm a Mudblood. He hates me just for being born! I don't understand.
Does it matter if you understand or not? Do you want to save your parents that's the question you have to
ask yourself.
His thumb brushes over my bare collarbone, then down further.
A hot blush creeps across my face because I feel so... naked. He's seen me naked, really naked, before, of
course he has, but now
He's never suggested this. There was never any real possibility of it going this far.
Wasn't there?
I don't know. Maybe this has been a likelihood all along.
'So what's it to be, Mudblood?'
I swallow. My cheeks and nose sting with tears. 'I' God, this is so unbelievably horrible. Why can't he ask
for anything else? 'I've never'
My words trail off, my humiliation swallowing them whole.
He smirks. 'That wasn't an answer to my question, was it?' he drawls, as if he knows exactly what I was
going to say. 'I asked whether you would surrender yourself to mywill in order to allow your parents to live.'
Oh, he's so foul! He just doesn't care that he's asking my permission basically to to I won't think about
it.
He doesn't even find me attractive. He's made that clear time and time again. This is about power, nothing
else, and I can't I can't stand it!
But I can't do anything else, can I? I can't let my parents die.
I wish I were dead.
He raises an eyebrow at me, his fingers trailing up and down my shoulder.
Blinking back my tears, I nod. 'Alright. Yes.'
For a moment there's an ugly look in his eyes. They're darker than their usual pale grey, somehow. Much
darker...
He reaches his hand out, gently tracing down the side of my face, delicately skating his fingers from my
temple to my chin. His lips part slightly as he drops his eyes for a second, letting them run over my body
until they come to rest on my face again.
I shiver.
He pulls back his hand and he breathes a small, malicious laugh.
I swallow sharply. His laughter stabs me in the heart.
233

'It's just as well that I don't want you then, isn't it?'
My heart drops down to my knees and I go dizzy. 'What?'
He pulls in his laughter, sneering at me.
'My dear girl, do you really think that I'd dirty my hands on you?' He rakes a disdainful glance over me. 'Did
you really think that I'd give up my principles and my duty to the Dark Lord just so that I could sully myself
with a filthy Mudblood?'
'But' But why did you let me believe that you would? Why did you even let me think that there was a
chance to save my parents? Why were you watching me sleep last night? Why, why, why? 'But why did you-'
'I just wanted to see what your reaction would be,' he says smoothly. 'And now I know just how far you
would go to save those you love. It all adds to the mix, Mudblood. I'd never touch you, god knows why
anyone would want to, but it's most satisfying to know that if I had the inclination then I could with perfect
ease.'
I can't believe him!
'My parents-' I breathe desperately.
He sneers as he walks to the door. 'Do not concern yourself over them. Within twenty-four hours, chances
are you will have no parents.'
'NO!' I rush at him, clawing at his arm desperately. 'Please, please don't do this-'
'Impedimenta!'
His pale face, containing a world of emotions that I never want to know about, retreats as I fly back and
back, and my skull cracks against stone and I'm thrown into dark unconsciousness.
15. Grief
'Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep... Glamis hath murder'd sleep,
and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more; Macbeth shall sleep no more.' - William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Think, think.
The ingredients of Polyjuice Potionlacewing flies stewed for 21 days,
leeches,
powdered bicorn horn,
knotgrass,
fluxweed picked at full moon,
shredded boomslang skin,
a bit of who you want to turn into
Yes, I think that's it. Or have I forgotten anything?
Like it'll make any difference anyway.
234

Shut up, shut UP!


He won't do it. I know that he won't do it
But what if he does?
No, NO. I'm not thinking about it.
But how can I not think about it? Getting in the bath, changing my robe, cleaning my room, running through
my textbooks in my mind they've all been pretty sorry exercises in trying to keep my mind off it, so far.
No. He won't do it. I know that he won't. He's just messing with my mind. He's sick, he's twisted. He'd do
anything for a bit of sadistic enjoyment at my expense.
He just wanted to see me beg. He just wanted to see how far I'd be willing to go. And he's seen now, hasn't
he, the sick bastard, he's seen how far I'd go. And doesn't he just relish it?
I don't understand him. I thought I did, but I don't, not really. I thought I knew all there was to know about
his feelings towards me, but after what happened when I last saw him I don't know what to think
But if Voldemort's ordered him to do it
No. I won't think it. I won't I won't.
He wouldn't.
He might.
No. I know himThe door bangs open.
I scramble to my feet as he steps into the room without looking at me. He closes the door behind him, locks
it silently.
And then, only then he looks at me.
His expression flickers.
And then I know that it's over.
Over.
He's not smiling, and he's not angry. Once again genuine emotion has betrayed him. He has hurt me in the
worst way possible, and he knows it, and that's why he's looking at me like he is now.
oh
Silence. Blank, barren horror.
Then-a scream.
My scream.
235

It hits me suddenly. Such pain and such misery as I have never known. Their faces float around in my mind,
but I'll never see them again. I can search and search and search all I like but I'll never, ever see them again!
My fingers tug at my hair.
I can't stop screaming. It's a primal thing beyond my control.
Nothing matters anymore, oh my god, he really did it! I never, ever, oh god oh god
ohgodohgodohgodohgodohgod!
My nails rip into my skin as I pull my hands down my cheeks. I should hurt more - my body should be torn
to shreds if the pain I feel inside should surface. They're dead, they're dead!
And he stands there, saying NOTHING!
He watches me in silence, watches me cry, and I can't stand it, I can't STAND it!
I pull in my sobs enough to speak.
'They're dead, aren't they?'
He stands there, perfectly still, his face hard. Something inside of me shatters. He he stands there he
killed them, he KILLED them!
'DON'T JUST STAND THERE LIKE YOU'RE MADE OF STONE!' I scream.
If I didn't know any better I'd say that he flinched slightly at my words.
'What do you want me to do, Mudblood?' he asks quietly, his voice giving nothing away. 'What do you want
from me?'
It's like he's ripping me apart from the inside out. I can't even speak for hate. I'm shaking and shaking, my
parents, my parents, oh god
Finally I force words to come.
'What do I want?' I choke on wild laughter. 'I want you to undo what you did. I want to see my parents again,
but that's not going to happen, is it?'
He's looking at me with an expression that looks like disgust. It's as if he's never seen anything like what he's
seeing at this moment in time something repugnant, alien to him in every way.
'I want you to go up to that balcony you pulled me back from and throw yourself off of it.' My voice rises
slowly to a scream. 'I want you to die, Lucius Malfoy! I want you to suffer so much that you wish you'd
never been born! I want-'
But words won't come, not anymore. Can't think, can't live without them, hate him hate him hate him!
I whip my hand out and I slap him hard across the face. His head turns with the force of it, his cheek turning
pink, but he just blinks, taking a deep breath through his nose.
Why isn't he hurting? Why can't he hurt like I do? Why can't he feel anything fucking human, why why
why?
236

I slap him again, and again. I hit his face, his arms, his chest, but he says nothing. He doesn't stop me, but I
want him to stop me. I want him to hurt me back, to give me some kind of physical compensation for the
crippling pain I feel inside of me.
I scream at him, screaming incomprehensibly and hitting him, slapping him, hurting him, hating him. My
parents, oh god, I loved them so so so much and I'll never be able to tell them, never, ever!
'You bastard! You evil, cowardly BASTARD! How could you? How could you?'
Slap. Smack. Slap. Smack. Hurthimhurthim HURT HIM!
He lets me do it. He doesn't try to stop me. Perhaps he doesn't feel, doesn't hurt like everyone else.
Bastard.
Bastard.
BASTARD!
'Why did you do it?' I slap him uselessly, stupidly, what good will it do? 'Why? You evil bastard, WHY?'
He snaps. He had to eventually, didn't he? He grabs hold of my wrists, holding them just inches from his
face. His face, suffused in anger, is only inches away from mine. It's white, pure white, with no colour in it at
all.
'I did what I had to do,' he whispers slowly. 'I did not volunteer for the task; I was ordered to do it.'
'You could have refused-' I hiss back.
'Why would I do that?' he says with terrible finality. 'You see, there's the difference between you and I. I am
able to see past the means I have to use to achieve my ends. It's not what I have done, it's what it will achieve
that matters.'
No.
'How many unspeakable things do you have to do to get where you want?' I ask, tears pouring down my
face. 'I knew that you would kill me in the end, I always knew it. But you didn't have toto'
I choke on my own sobs and my head falls forward, weighed down by grief. But he won't leave me alone, he
just won't. He hooks his fingers under my chin, forcing me to face him.
'Try not to be such a child,' he says cruelly. 'What I did was necessary to our cause. You have no idea what
the death of your parents has achieved. The Weasleys have told us that it has jolted Potter into finally seeing
sense. He has agreed to meet us at their house tomorrow, to turn himself in so that you will not be harmed.
Your parents' death has bought you your life, Mudblood, can't you see?'
'I DON'T CARE!' I wrench my hands from his grip and I slap him once again across the face. 'Don't you
understand, I'm not like you! I'd rather die in the most horrible, unimaginable way than let them be hurt! I
begged you, I begged you on my knees to let them live-'
He grabs me by the shoulders and slams me painfully back into the wall behind me.
'I had no choice!' he hisses at me. 'Why won't you understand that?'
237

'Because I can't understand! Why didn't you just refuse, why?' I'm screaming now, screaming in misery. 'You
didn't have to kill them, you didn't! I hate you, I HATE YOU! I hope you die, you evil, evil coward-'
He pins his hand to my throat, his face white and furious. 'Don't. Ever. Call me a coward.'
His eyes are deep, chocked full of things I don't want to know. The things he's seen with those eyes I never,
ever want to see.
I feel like my world has ended. There's nothing, nothing at all left for me. All I can hope for is to die.
Or to see him die.
His hand loosens from my throat.
'It was not I that ordered their deaths,' he says quietly. 'Yes, I killed them, but I would not have had them
killed, had I held sway over the situation.'
I don't know what to think, I don't know what to think.
'You expect me to believe that?' I whisper.
His face is unreadable. Not because it's blank, but because it's so full of emotions I'll never understand. 'I
have never lied to you, Mudblood.' His voice is quiet. Intense. 'You know what I am; you've known that
since I first captured you. Not once have I lied to you. I killed your parents, but I did not order their deaths.
You have to believe that.'
I give a tiny strangled hysterical laugh combed through with a sob.
'So I'm supposed to be grateful because although you were their executioner you didn't sign their death
warrant?' I shake my head, tears coming from my eyes as I sink down to my knees, lost in despair. I'll never
feel happiness again. 'Go away, Lucius. Just leave me alone.'
But he won't. He just won't let me be. He flicks his wand at the ground, and a glass bottle of copper liquid
appears on the cold stone floor with a small tumbler next to it. He crouches down in front of me and pours
the liquid out into the tumbler. He hands it to me, his cold grey eyes meeting mine over the rim of the glass.
'Drink this.'
I feel every nerve inside of me snap. I snatch the tumbler out of his hand and I throw it across the room. It
smashes on the stone floor, the glass spreading out in shards, broken like my soul.
'Fuck you,' I whisper.
He looks at me long and hard. I feel that invisible hand rooting around my mind again, but I just don't care.
There are things he'll see in my mind that he'll never understand, never comprehend. How could someone
like him understand how I feel? How could someone like him ever comprehend how much I love them, and
how this is going to hurt me every hour of every day for the rest of my life, and that the pain of losing them
will never, ever leave me?
He takes a deep breath.
'I did what I had to do,' he says quietly. 'Perhaps one day you'll understand.'
And then I start to talk. The situation all suddenly makes sense to me and I start to talk.
238

'But is that the only reason you've done this?' I ask listlessly. 'You had to obey Voldemort's orders, yes. But
you also wanted to punish me, didn't you? You wanted to punish me for breaking down yet another barrier. I
saw too much in that Penseive, and you've succeeded in punishing me in the most horrible, unimaginable
way for getting too close.'
His face sets itself hard and he raises his wand.
'Go ahead then,' I mutter, beyond caring. 'Whatever you do can't be worse than what you've already done.
Just you try punishing me again, and see if you can live with yourself after what you've done today.'
He reaches round the back of my neck and yanks my head back by the hair. He brings his face close to mine,
whispering in my ear as he places his wand against my exposed throat.
'Don't tempt me, Mudblood.'
'Oh yes, that's right,' I whisper. 'Go on; hurt me to keep me away. But believe me, you don't have to put
yourself to such bother. I'd rather die than allow myself to get close to you ever again.'
His grip pulls my hair taut and his wand plants itself into my throat. I can see his face above mine, struggling
with emotion.
He gives a snarl of fury as he looks down at me, and he lets go of my hair, standing up and picking me up in
his arms. I don't struggle against it because I don't care, I just don't care anymore. Nothing matters.
Nothing.
He lays me down on my bed, sitting down on the mattress next to me. He summons the bottle of copper
liquid over to us and conjures up another tumbler, filling it once again.
'Drink it,' he says, holding it out to me. 'It's a sleeping potion.'
I shake my head. 'I don't want it. I don't want anything from you.'
He looks at me intently.
'Yes you do,' he says quietly. 'You want to go to sleep. You want to forget what's happened, even if it's just
for a few hours. Drink this, it will help you.'
I look at him mutinously for a few seconds, before I wearily take the goblet from him. I neck the potion
before I sink back onto the pillows, hoping for nothing more than to die in my sleep.

My eyes peel themselves open slowly, heavily. For long moments I'm warm, contented, but it doesn't take
long for me to remember.
My nose burns and I close my eyes again.
Oh God, why couldn't you let me die? Why did you let me wake up again?
I'm not alone. I can hear light breathing, and strong fingers entwined around my own.
I open my eyes. Lucius sits on the edge of the bed, watching me. His hand is wrapped in mine, tangling our
fingers together.
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I keep my eyes on his. I feel like I should cry, but although I can feel my nose stinging with tears, but they
just won't fall. They've all run out of me. I feel like an empty bottle.
'How did it happen?' I ask listlessly. 'Tell me, I want to know. How did'
My throat closes up and my words are cut off. I swallow. He watches me closely, his mouth set in a thin line.
'How did they die?' I whisper.
He seems to consider for a moment, before he answers me with a still, calm, perfectly controlled voice.
'I arrived at their house at midnight.' His voice shows no emotion at all. 'They were sleeping in their bed.
They did not wake as I entered the room. I they died as they slept. They will have felt nothing.'
It's enough. I don't want to hear any more. I close my eyes to blot his face away. My parents' murderer.
They would have felt nothing. They wouldn't even have known it was happening.
But that doesn't take the agony away. I knew, deep down, that I would never see them again anyway, I knew
it. But a small part of me had dared to hope
Hope has gone. It has abandoned me.
And I'll never see them again!
I gasp out a dry sob.
I'm alone. There's nothing left for me. Everything I've ever known and trusted has been taken away from me.
My parents aren't going to save me; a teacher's not going to save me; a book's not going to save me; the
Order's not going to save me.
God's not going to save me.
I open my eyes to look at my parents' killer. He looks back at me as if he's never seen me before.
'How could you do it?' I ask, almost simply. 'After everything we've how could you?'
A muscle goes in his jaw.
'The end justifies the means, Mudblood.'
The end justifies the means, the means, the means have destroyed me, killed my parents, how can you say
that?
'Oh.' My voice shakes and struggles over my words. 'Look at you. So calm, so composed. You have the
softest voice, but you say the cruellest things.'
He watches me, almost smirking and yet not.
'What were you expecting? Compassion? For you?' He breathes a tiny laugh. 'You're such a fool.'
'Yes, you're right,' I hiss furiously. 'How could I expect any compassion from you? You're an evil man,
Lucius Malfoy.'
240

'And you're a Mudblood, Miss Granger,' he says cruelly, 'and I would rather be considered 'evil' than no more
than a filthy muggle.'
I close my eyes, letting the tears puddle under my eyelids. He's goading me, but I'm tired of fighting. What's
the use? My parents they're dead. He killed them. 'Filthy muggles', that's what he made me call them, such
a long time ago. He probably thought no more of killing them than he would of swatting a fly.
His fingers brush onto my cheek and my eyes flip open. I look up at him, lost in the cold gaze of my parents'
murderer. His eyes, full of emotions that maybe even he doesn't understand.
Was it really murder if he was ordered to do it? He probably had no choice
Everyone has a choice about everything.
People don't always have that luxury. Did you have a choice when you gave them the information they
tortured out of you?
'Come on.' He stands up, removing his fingers from my cheek. 'We're running late. They'll be expecting us at
the Weasleys' any minute.'
Us? Am I going with him?
No. I'm not going. I don't care, don't care, don't care. At least here I have Ron
Ron. I'll cling to him now. He's all I have. Harry just wouldn't understand me anymore.
Besides, if Harry had just turned up the other night my parents would still be alive.
'Why should I go with you?' I ask Lucius quietly, snatching my hand away from his. 'Why should I do
anything you tell me to do?'
He snarls in anger and grabs me by the arm, wrenching me up to my feet.
'Because you don't want to believe that your parents died in vain,' he hisses, still keeping hold of my arm,
bruising it.
'I don't want to believe that they died just so that the entire wizarding world would be lost to animals like
you!' I shout back at him, knowing that it's true.
His lips begin to form and answer, but he seems to think better of it and re-arranges them into a sneer.
'Why are we even having this conversation?' he drawls maliciously. 'After all, it's not as if you have a choice
in the matter, is it?'
He pulls the small silver key from out of his robes, still gripping onto my arm, and we move through the
airless void of transportation into another room, a room almost exactly like mine. I would think we hadn't
moved anywhere at all, but then'Hermione!'
I spin around to see Ron, the one thing in the world I can still cling on to, his familiar face so full of concern
that it almost breaks my heart.

241

As our eyes meet he walks over to me, reaching me in two swift strides before throwing himself around me.
He pulls me up into a fierce hug, and I collapse into his arms, feeling all of my exhaustion and all of my pain
wash over me.
'You've got ten minutes,' I hear Lucius say curtly, 'and then I'll be back. If you're not ready to leave when I
return then you shall both pay for it.'
Go. Just go.
A small popping noise.
Thank god.
Ron pulls my face back to look at me, cradling my head in his hands.
'What happened to you?' he asks, gently touching my forehead. He brings away his fingers, and I see they've
got blood on them. That must have been where my skull hit the wall when Lucius threw me back into it, just
after I'd offered him everything to try and save them...
I burst into tears. Huge, racking, agonising sobs rock through me as it all comes crashing down around me
again. I cry so hard that I can hardly breathe.
'My God, what's wrong?' Ron asks, taking my hands in his. 'Is it Malfoy?' he asks furiously. 'What's he done
to you? I'll kill him, I swear-'
'My my Mum and Dad' I try to speak, but my words barely make it out through the sobs. 'He he
killed them, Ron! He killed my Mum and Dad!'
I scream with misery then. Mum and Dad. I love them so much, more than I can ever tell them, and I'll never
be able to now. It's over. They're just gone.
Gone.
It's unendurable.
'What?' Ron's answer drags my head up to look at him, but I can barely see his ashen face through my tears.
I try to gulp down my sobs enough to speak.
'The other night, he he took me to Voldemort, and he tortured me while Voldemort opened his mind to
Harry.' Ron's grip on my hand tightens. 'They told Harry to be at your house the next evening, but he never
showed up. And so they Voldemort ordered him to to show Harry that they really mean business by
by'
I can't speak anymore. I just wail and bawl. Ron grips me and wrenches me into a furious hug, and I hold
onto him as tightly as I can, as if just by holding onto him I could make the agony go away.
'Are you sure he really did it?' Ron asks tentatively. 'Maybe it's just, I don't know, some kind of mind fuck.'
I shake my head weakly. 'No,' I gasp. 'He's done it. I know him; he wouldn't have gone this far with just a
sick mind game.'
Ron swears under his breath and pulls me tighter into his arms. I grip at him, crying furiously into his
shoulder as he rubs at my back gently. But it makes no difference. He doesn't know me anymore. He can't
understand me now; no-one can ever understand me ever again.
242

I collapse onto the ground, dragging Ron with me. We stay like this for ages, for what feels like forever, and
he rocks me back and forth, back and forth, but the tears keep coming. I want them back, I want them back,
but I'll never see them again.
My sobs slow down in the end. They slow down to sighs as Ron holds me. I need them to stop. They can't
fill this huge great emptiness that threatens to overwhelm me.
I pull back and I look into Ron's eyes, holding onto his face.
'Ron,' I whisper. Every word is an effort. 'Harry has told them that he'll be at your house this evening to hand
himself over to stop them from killing me. They're going to take me with them to the Burrow, to remind
Harry of what they'll do if he doesn't turn himself in to them. I'll stop it if I can, I promise. I won't let Harry
do it.'
He sets his face firm.
'If you get the chance to escape, then you've got to do it,' he says resolutely. 'This could be the only chance
you get you've got to make use of it.'
'I won't leave you-'
There's a small popping noise behind us again. Too soon, always too soon.
I turn around. Lucius looks at us with a frozen expression on his face, and I realise that he's changed his
robes. He's prepared for battle in his Death-Eater's uniform.
Ron's grip on me tightens.
'Get the fuck out of here, Malfoy-'
'Shut up,' Lucius snaps, grabbing me by the arm and wrenching me up towards him. I go along with it, too
exhausted to fight back. He pulls Ron's grip away from my arm. 'If you don't let her go without a fuss then I
shall force you to watch her suffer for it. I mean it, boy. I don't have time to waste on your histrionics.'
'Why can't you just leave her alone?' Ron shouts at him, his face red with fury. 'Haven't you done enough
already? Do you realise just what you've done to her?'
'Tell me, Weasley,' Lucius' voice is tight with suppressed exasperation as he interrupts him, 'why do you
always speak to me as if I am interested in what you have to say?'
He pulls the small silver key out of his robes, and I cry out Ron's name, reaching out to him frantically but I
can't reach him before we press into a tiny space, smaller and smaller until we emerge out into the main hall.
It's alright. I haven't lost him too. I'll see him again when I get back. At least I've still got Ron.
Bellatrix stands in front of us. She's wearing her Death-Eater's robes, her mask ready in her hand.
'We're ready to go,' she says shortly.
'Good,' Lucius replies coldly. 'Where is he?'
Who?
'I'm here.'
243

Oh no, oh no! Not him, not now, not after everything.


I turn my head to look behind me and there he is. Standing there in a Death-Eater's robe, maskless because
of course he doesn't need to hide his identity from me, not now, not after what he did at the end of term.
And for the first time I see him properly. He's changed so much from the boy I first knew when I was eleven
years old, and yet I never really registered it as we grew up together. He is no longer the snivelling, pathetic
school bully I saw him as for years and years. He seems taller, somehow. Those robes don't swamp him like
it seems they should do. They fit him perfectly.
He sneers at me, a smile of pure malicious joy spreading across his features, and I feel Lucius' grip tighten
on my arm.
'Hello, Granger,' he drawls. 'I'll bet you didn't expect to see me again, did you?'
Draco Malfoy has finally won at last.
16. Consequences
''What do you mean?' said Frodo. 'Surely the Ring was his precious and the only thing he cared for? But if
he hated it, why didn't he get rid of it or go away and leave it?'
'You ought to begin to understand, Frodo, after all you have heard,' said Gandalf. 'He hated it and loved it,
as he hated and loved himself. He could not get rid of it. He had no will left in the matter.'' J . R . R .
Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

I'm not going to bother struggling anymore.


My wrists are aching, burned and rubbed raw by the rope that ties me to the leg of the armchair.
It's a chair Mr Weasley used to sit in during the summer evenings as he listened to the Wizards' radio.
It's too heavy a chair to shift, and so I've got no option but to stay sitting on the floor, waiting along with all
the other Death-Eaters here with me for Harry to arrive.
I think we're here early, before whatever arranged time they gave to him. They don't seem to think he'll be
here so very soon. The atmosphere is almost relaxed. They're just standing around, talking to each other
quietly, even laughing occasionally.
Laughing.
I can't stand them being here. The Burrow. This happy home that should be full of laughing Weasleys is now
full of Death-Eaters, all waiting for Harry to turn up so that they can finally win the war.
To think that things have come to this.
I don't think the Weasleys are here. I haven't seen them. My guess is they've only given up their house for the
night, and they don't have to actually stay here to see what's going to happen. God knows, if I were given the
choice then wouldn't want to see what might happen.
I'm almost glad that none of the Weasleys are here. I don't know whether I could handle seeing them. It'll just
remind me of everything I've lost.
244

It's night time, and so the only light in the room comes from the Death-Eater's illuminated wands. Perhaps
it's just the darkness that makes the place look so miserable, so utterly different from how it was when I last
saw it.
I look across the room, the dining room of this house that I spent so many summers in, though I don't have
time for memories now.
I look at Lucius as he holds a murmured conversation with some Death-Eater I don't recognise. None of
them have put on their masks yet, not that I recognise any of them anyway.
Only Lucius and Bellatrix, who seem to be ignoring each-other.
And Draco's here, of course. He keeps on smirking at me. He's just itching to come over and gloat, I know
that, but he's managed to restrain himself so far.
I don't care, anyway. He can do what he likes. After everything that's happened to me I just don't give a damn
about Draco Malfoy anymore.
My eyes are stuck on Lucius. I watch the bastard smile. I watch him laugh quietly at something the other
Death-Eater says. I watch him as he flicks his eyes over to me.
How can he carry on with his life as if nothing has happened? How can he sit there and laugh after what he's
done?
I am never going to laugh again.
How can life go on? How can anyone laugh, or smile, or just carry on as if nothing has changed? My
parents are gone, they'll never come back. How can everyone else's lives go on as normal?
I'm being irrational, I know. I know that the pain will lessen in the end. That's what everyone says whenever
someone's lost a loved one 'It'll get easier with time'.
It doesn't feel like it ever will, though. It feels like I'm surely going to die of this wrenching, churning pain I
feel in my gut whenever I come close to thinking about it.
Which is pretty much all the time. It's like a whining cry pounding incessantly in my head. And it hurts,
hurts
Hurts.
And he just sits there. He sits and talks to his friend, and he doesn't care what he's done.
He's taken everything.
I hate him.
I keep thinking about my mum and dad's last moments. I keep running over what might have happened in
my mind.
Did they know that I loved them? Did I tell them, when I last saw them?
'Finally learned your place in the world, Granger? God knows, it's taken you long enough.'
Draco's finally given into temptation, then.
245

I didn't even notice him come over.


I look up. He stands over me, smirking down at me with pure malice because he knows that he's won, now.
All those years of me beating him in class really don't matter anymore, do they? Not now.
He crouches down next to me, keeping his voice low.
'My father told me you've been your delightful, arrogant self during your captivity.'
I chance a look at his father, who watches us with a tiny frown on his face, just for a second before he turns
back to the person he's talking to.
I'll kill him. One day, I will kill him.
I look back at Draco. His pale face is contorted with pure malicious joy.
I just don't want to hear it, don't want to know, don't want to put up with this after everything else.
'Go away, Draco,' I whisper, looking away from him. 'I don't want to talk to you.'
I feel the cold, sleek wood of his wand under my chin, and I slide my eyes back onto his face. He might not
be his father, but he's still got a wand, and that amounts to power I could only dream of right now.
'Well I want to talk to you, Granger,' he hisses. 'And you have to do as I say now. As I say,' he repeats,
savouring the words.
I don't bother to answer. I'm not afraid of him, not really. He might have a wand, but his threats just seem so
meaningless after everything I've seen, after everything his father's done to me.
'I wanted to come and visit you ages ago,' he drawls, letting his wand drop from my chin. 'I originally
asked the Dark Lord if I could have charge over you; if I could look after you during your imprisonment. It
would have been fun, wouldn't it, Mudblood? Just you, me and a wand.'
My mind goes into overdrive for a moment, thinking about what it would have been like if I had been given
over to the son rather than the father. Perhaps things would have been easier. Draco's skills in magic,
manipulation and cruelty aren't as advanced as his father's, I don't think.
'I could have finally put you in your place,' Draco goes on. 'I could have got back at you for all those years
you thought that you were better than me in school.'
I snap then. I feel my last nerve break because does he really think that I care about how well I did at school,
after everything that's happened to me?
'Yes, and I bet you've stayed awake night after night fantasising about that little scenario, haven't you?' I
whisper violently. 'Well let me tell you, it hasn't been the stuff of fantasy being stuck with your bloody father
all this time.' I feel the anger build up in me; the need to hurt. 'Do you know what your father has done to
me, Draco?'
He swallows sharply, but he keeps that sneer somewhat shakily in place. It's as if he's afraid of what I might
say. Too young, too nave to know what his father really gets up to in his spare time.
'Whatever he's done to you, I'm sure it's no less than you deserve,' he mutters.
'No less than I deserve?' I ask incredulously, and my eyes flick over to Lucius, who's watching us, almost
completely ignoring the person he's meant to be talking to. Draco's eyes follow mine. 'He imperio'd me into
246

hacking my own leg open with a knife,' I mutter. 'He crucio'd me to the point that I vomited out of sheer
agony. He broke my fingers and ground them under his boot when I wouldn't do as he said. Oh, I could tell
you things about your precious father-'
'That's enough!'
He grabs me by the scruff of the neck and holds his wand shakily up to my throat.
'Draco.' Lucius' voice comes from the other side of the room, cold and emotionless. I shift my eyes over to
see him watching us with a frown on his face, his wand loose in his hand by his side. 'Remember what I told
you.'
'Yes, father,' Draco says sullenly, withdrawing his wand from my throat and putting it back into his robes
before letting go of me.
Lucius locks his gaze onto mine for a few seconds before he turns back to his conversation with his
colleague.
'He killed my parents, Draco,' I say quietly, not looking away from Lucius. 'Your father killed mine, and my
mother. Do you still wish that you'd been given charge of me? That duty would have fallen to you, if you had
been. Will you fantasise about being the one to destroy my life, to take away the two people I loved most in
the world?'
I turn back to Draco. His face goes very white, but he still manages to keep that sneer in place.
'Why should I care about that?' His voice shakes slightly as he speaks. 'They were only muggles.'
I actually choke on my own rage. I start to stutter with hatred. I knew he was an arrogant, spoiled, selfish
little bastard, but I never knew he was so cruel as to as to
'You-'
I try to lunge at him, but I jolt as the ropes are stretched tight. I can't move for the weight of the chair.
Draco laughs, standing up again and sneering down at me, just like his father does and yet somehow so
very unlike his father.
'When will you ever learn, you stupid cow?' he asks. 'You can't fight against me you never could! Stupid
Gryffindors think they can fight against anything just as long as they're brave enough! What use is your
bravery now, Granger? What use is bravery without a wand?'
It's funny how you can grow up with someone and not notice them changing. I look at Draco now and I see
him properly for the first time in six years. He's not quite grown up yet, but he's nearly there. I can see both
the sneering playground bully he was, but I can also see what he'll become his father. I can see his father in
the sneer, the coldness, the eyes full of cruelty.
'It's nearly midnight.' Lucius' curt voice comes from the other side of the room, cutting off all the muted
chatter amongst the other Death-Eaters. I watch him stride across the room to me and Draco. 'He'll be here
soon. Get into position.'
They all do as he says, arranging themselves around the room. Lucius comes over to me and Draco. He
flicks his wand at the ropes tying me to the chair and they dissolve into thin air. I barely have a chance to
massage at my sore wrists before he grips me by the arm, wrenching me to my feet.
'Shouldn't you keep her tied up?' Draco asks, looking at me almost apprehensively. 'She might get away-'
247

'Oh, I don't think Miss Granger will be going anywhere,' Lucius drawls horribly. 'I think she knows what the
consequences of her actions will be if she does make an ill-conceived escape attempt. I have taught her all
she ever needs to know about obedience during our time together.'
Bastard, bastard, I hate you, you BASTARD!
Draco looks at the pair of us, his gaze flickering between me and his father, and for a second a small frown
creases his brow.
He looks at me quizzically.
I'm no liar, Draco. Think about what I've said.
Whether he can perform Legimilency like his father can or not, I don't know. I'm guessing not, because his
frown disappears almost immediately to be replaced by a malicious little grin.
'Enjoy the show, Granger,' he mutters. 'I can't wait to see the look on Potter's face when he sees you-'
'Remember what I told you, Draco,' Lucius says quietly. 'There is to be no acting up just because it's Potter.
We have a job to do.'
'I understand that,' Draco smiles at me horribly. 'But I'll want some compensation when this is over, father.
If I can't have a go at Potter, then I at least want to be able to spend some quality time with the Mudblood.
You should hear the things she's been saying-'
'I don't need to hear it, Draco,' Lucius snaps, before he remembers himself and smiles at his son, and at me.
'But then, I suppose it could do no harm.' He considers for a moment, and then he makes up his mind. 'Yes,
when tonight is over you may renew your acquaintance with Miss Granger. I daresay the pair of you have
missed each other these past few months.'
Draco smiles at me along with his father. The Malfoy smile a pair of pleasant snakes.
It takes all of my power to stop me from shaking with fury.
'My parents aren't even cold,' I say quietly, and I don't know which specific Malfoy I'm really talking to at
that moment. 'Isn't that enough for you?'
'Shut up!' Lucius twists his hand on my arm, pulling a gasp from my mouth before he turns back to his son.
'Take your place.'
He wrenches me forwards towards the door that leads out to the Burrow's garden. I feel his wand dig into my
back, pressing hard into my ribs.
'I don't think I need to remind you of what the consequences will be should you decide to try and run away,'
he whispers into my ear. 'Don't make me hurt you anymore than I already have done.'
For god's sake. Does he really expect me to believe that he doesn't enjoy hurting me, not even a little bit?
We're all in position, like some horrible tableau. Me and Lucius up in front, the Death-Eaters surrounding us
in a masked crowd.
And we wait. We all wait, perfectly still in the darkness, with only the light of a few illuminated wands to
provide any relief for our eyes.
248

God knows how long we wait, in horrible silent darkness. Lucius' fingers bite into my arm, and I feel his
breathing on the back of my neck. Far too close. As always.
My heart is pounding so hard my chest is going to burst any minute.
Maybe Harry's not coming
But of course he does come. I was stupid to hope for otherwise, wasn't I?
The door creaks open, and a wonderfully familiar figure stands shadowed in the doorway, his wand lit up
with a lumos spell.
And for the first time since my capture I see Harry's face. The untidy hair, the glasses, the bright green eyes,
the scar. His face is set in determination as he enters the house, and the Death-Eaters all automatically raise
their wands at him.
'Lower your wands and I will co-operate with you,' he says, his voice almost calm and yet not. If I didn't
know him as well as I do I would say that he's calm.
It's so good to hear his voice again!
The Death-Eaters look to Lucius for orders. I turn my face up to watch his reaction. He surveys Harry down
his nose haughtily before making a lowering gesture with his hand.
'Those won't be necessary,' he says quietly. 'I think Potter knows that he has no choice but to comply with
our wishes.' He places his hands on my shoulders in a definite gesture of ownership. 'He knows what will
happen if he does not.'
Harry's eyes flicker down to meet mine, and only then does he lose his composure. His face blanches, visible
even by the wand-light.
He tries a tiny smile of reassurance, but there's no happiness in it, of course there isn't. He's about to walk to
his death, he's not going to be happy
I'm not going to let him do this. I'm not going to let these bastards win!
'Go, Harry!' I shout, struggling against Lucius, who quick as a flash snakes his arm around my waist, holding
me firmly in place. 'Run! Don't hand yourself over! It doesn't matter, they'll kill me anyway-'
Lucius' wand stabs into my throat, cutting off my yells with fear.
'Be quiet.' His harsh whisper is hot on my cheek. 'Don't make this any more difficult than it has to be. If you
want to see just how easily I could kill you then you just try to take one more step-'
'Let go of her, Malfoy!' Harry yells, pointing his wand at Lucius, his face furious.
Lucius' head snaps up to face Harry, and he removes his wand very slowly from my throat. He shifts his arm
from my waist and grips at my arm instead.
And I can breathe again.
'Let's not allow ourselves to descend into childish bickering,' Lucius drawls. 'We're all adults now, Potter,
and so I'm going to make this nice and clear for you.'
He pauses for effect, and it works, of course. Harry's knuckles whiten as he grips his wand tighter.
249

'The Dark Lord showed you what this foul specimen has been going through because of you,' Lucius drawls
pitilessly. 'You saw her suffering horrifically because of her friendship with you. You were given the
opportunity to rescue her, to stop her suffering, but you turned it down.'
'No,' Harry says, desperation in his voice as he looks at me, ashen faced, his wand shaking in his hand.
'Hermione, you don't understand, I couldn't. The Order-'
'And what did that little act of defiance cost, that's what you have to ask yourself, Potter.' Lucius completely
ignores Harry's desperate attempt at an explanation. 'Do you know exactly what your hesitation has cost your
little Mudblood friend?'
No. Don't bring that up. The pain of it still stabs me like a thousand knives all over my body.
Even in the darkness, I can see all of the colour ebb away from Harry's face.
'Hermione.' He just sputters and spits, desperately trying to get his words out. 'I couldn't I didn't know that
they would really'
'I know.' I don't know what else to say.
'But I have to say thank you, Potter.' Lucius carries on as if neither of us has spoken. 'Thank you for finally
seeing sense. You have made the entire task so much easier for all of us. Now, if you'll just give Bellatrix
your hand, then we will remove the anti-apparation jinxes and she can apparate you to the Dark Lord. We
shall finish this, once and for all.'
Harry nods, his face setting itself in grim determination.
'If you want me to play along with you, then you'll have to give me something in return,' he says, his voice
firm.
'Expelliar-'
'Protego!'
Harry keeps his grip on his wand, deflecting Bellatrix' spell. She stands next to Lucius, shaking with fury.
'Don't play games with us, you-'
'Calm down, Bella,' Lucius mutters. She turns to him, her mouth open as if she's going to start shouting at
him too, but he silences with her an imperious raise of his hand.
Harry's gaze flickers to and from me and Lucius.
'You want me to let you apparate with me,' Harry says quietly, resolutely. 'You need my permission to do it, I
know that. So I'll make a deal with you. I'll let you take me,' he pauses for a moment, looking at me 'but
in return I want you to set Hermione free.'
Lucius' fingers bite down into my arm and the Death-Eaters all start to chuckle.
'You're hardly in a position to negotiate, Potter!' Draco laughs, stepping forward out of the shadows. 'It's
fifteen to one. Or are you such a powerful wizard that you think you can take all of us on?'
I hear Lucius' irritated intake of breath near my ear as Harry's face sets itself into pure hatred as he comes
face to face with his old rival.
250

'So, they've got you on board, have they?' he says, his voice mocking and furious. 'They must really be
desperate. Do they know just how miserably you failed in your Death-Eater's duties last year? Do they have
a death wish, letting someone as useless as you fight alongside them?'
Draco raises his wand furiously, but Lucius reaches out and grabs him by the wrist.
'Not now.'
'But father, didn't you hear what he-?'
'Of course I did!' Lucius snaps. 'But right now we have important plans to carry out. This is not the
playground of Hogwarts remember that.'
Draco looks for a second as if he's going to answer back, but Bellatrix places a hand on his arm and draws
him back into the shadows, shooting Lucius a resentful look as she does so. Draco consoles himself by
fixing Harry with the look of deepest loathing as he goes with her.
'I know that I couldn't win in a fight against all of you,' Harry says quietly, and I know how hard it must be
for him to admit to his enemies that he can't win against them. 'You'll get me to Voldemort one way or
another. I'm just giving you the option to do it the easy way. Let Hermione go, and I'll let you apparate with
me.'
There's a long, tense silence while his offer is considered.
I hardly dare to breathe. If they let me go then I'll be free.
Free.
But if they let me go, then Ron will be left on his own, Harry will die, I'll have no-where to go anyway,
and and
'Oh, let her go.' A deep voice I don't recognise comes from the left of me somewhere. 'It'll get the whole
business done a lot quicker, won't it?'
Lucius' grip tightens on my arm, his fingernails almost tearing through my robe and into my skin.
'Impossible,' he says swiftly and coldly. 'She's far too important a prisoner to let loose.'
'But father,' Draco pipes up from behind us, 'I thought that as soon as you got hold of Potter then you
intended to dispose of her. Why do you need to keep her if you're going to kill her anyway?'
'Indeed, Draco,' Bellatrix says as she comes to stand next to us once again, her eyes glittering with triumph.
'That is the question, isn't it?'
'You do realise, Potter,' Lucius hisses menacingly at Harry, ignoring Bellatrix and Draco, 'that we could very
easily stun you and carry you back to headquarters without your co-operation.'
'What, and drag a stunned body halfway across the country?' Harry counters triumphantly. 'That's just asking
to be caught by the Aurors, isn't it?'
I just stand stock still, feeling Lucius' fingers dig deeper into my arm.
I'm so close to freedom, freedom I'm not even sure I want anymore. I have no parents to go to, Harry will die
and the war will be lost, and Ron I can't leave Ron there all on his own.
251

Harry reaches out to me, snatching up my hand and gripping hard at my fingers, staring at Lucius without
any understanding. Because he can't understand. No-one can understand the pair of us. Not even Lucius and
I
'Just hand her over,' Harry says slowly. 'Hand her over, and I'll let you apparate with me.'
His fingers grip around mine as Lucius' tense on my other arm.
I look up at Lucius, at his pale, pointed face, and I feel a small kick, deep down in my stomach, as I look into
his eyes. There's something there in those cold grey eyes, something that I had to learn long and hard to see.
This is it. This will probably be the last time I'll ever see him.
So why do you care? Let go! The sooner you get away from him the better.
But I can't.
Let go let go let go.
I can't let go. I can't move from his gaze. It keeps me rooted to the spot. Lucius Malfoy. Cold, unfeeling,
pitiless, evil. Lucius Malfoy. My parents' murderer; the one person I hate more than anyone else in the
world. Lucius Malfoy. My constant companion. Lucius Malfoy. The centre of my world.
LET GO!
'Father, what are you doing?' My gaze snaps to Draco, who's moved up to stand next to us, watching us.
The whole room's watching us.
It's enough. Lucius drops my arm as if he's been burned.
'Ha!' Bellatrix lets out a tiny triumphant laugh as Lucius turns his face from me.
I'm free. I'm free once more. I'll never, ever have to face that evil heartless bastard again
So why does freedom hurt?
There's a long tense silence before Lucius turns to face us again, his expression blank, devoid of emotion, his
eyes refusing to meet mine.
'Potter-'
'NOW!'
That shouted command, I realise a second later, came from Harry but I don't have time to wonder what it's
all about because the next second a huge blast comes from the doorway, tearing through the room. I feel
myself being thrown with the force of it, everything in the room is thrown with the force of it.
I go flying and I land smack on the floor, my head pounding and my ears ringing from the shattering noise of
the explosion.
I stir from the ground. I'm I'm not hurt, I don't think. Bruised, perhaps, but nothing worse.
What the hell was that?
252

I chance a look around. I can't see much for smoke, but there's no rubble, only Death-Eaters lying dazed on
the ground. I think it was only the door that went, but I can't see
I feel a long, thin, cold object being pressed into my fingers.
'Here's a wand, Hermione,' Harry whispers into my ear. 'It's not one you're used to, but it'll have to do for
now. It's all going to kick off. Get yourself out of here.'
A wand. A wand?
'What's happening?' I ask dazedly.
'The Order,' he says shortly as he pulls me roughly up to my feet. 'I brought them with me under invisibility
cloaks. They waited outside until I got you away from the Death-Eaters' wands. But I'll explain it all
properly later. Right now, you've got to go.' He pulls me into a swift, fierce hug before letting go of me
again. 'Get yourself out of here and apparate to Hogsmeade. McGonagall is waiting for you in the Three
Broomsticks. She'll get you to somewhere safe.'
'What about Ron?' I gasp out, hearing people groaning and starting to move around me.
'We'll rescue him,' he says with complete certainty. 'We'll win this battle and we'll make them take us to him,
I promise, but you've got to get yourself out of here now!'
A stunning spell rushes passed my ear, whipping my hair up, and Harry grabs me by the shoulder, pulling me
down to crouch with him.
'Hermione,' he says shakily. 'About your parents I'm so sorry-'
'Don't be,' I reply quickly. 'It wasn't you who killed them.'
The floor pounds and shakes with frantic footsteps and curses start to fly around the room, the air filling with
the shouts of duelling Aurors and Death-Eaters.
Harry pulls me to my feet once again and pushes me away.
'Go!'
This is it.
I turn and I run as fast as I can as Harry engages in battle with a Death-Eater. I stumble through moving
bodies and curses and hexes, somehow miraculously avoiding them all by ducking and diving. My lungs fill
with smoke and I cough so hard my eyes water, but I don't stop running
Something grips at my ankle and I fall, my knees banging painfully on the floor. Without even looking
behind me I shoot a hex at whoever's got me. The grip relaxes and I crawl along the ground, clawing myself
through the storming feet. A booted foot lands on my fingers for a second, another kicks me out of the way
mercilessly, but I don't stop. I cling onto my new wand for all I'm worth. I have to get out, I have to
I reach the open door and I pull myself through it, out into the open fields. I can't see far through the
darkness, but that doesn't matter. I stumble to my feet, out in the open air, hearing the bangs, the yells, the
curses behind me. If I can just get a bit further, away from the anti-apparation jinxes, then
'Impedimenta!'
253

I'm lifted up and thrown forwards and I land sprawled on the ground, fireworks bursting behind my eyelids
and my teeth banging together as my head hits the rock hard earth.
I groan, clutching my fingers around the wand as I try to push my broken body up from the ground.
A foot lands on my back, pushing me back down into the dirt and a hand tangles itself in my hair, almost
ripping it from my head as he draws it up to hear his words.
'I don't think so, Mudblood.'
That voice
It's him.
Of course it's him!
He crouches over me, his whisper harsh in my ear.
'You will not get away from me,' he hisses. 'I'm damned if I'm going to give you up. I'll never let you go, do
you understand me?'
He's gone mad.
Or perhaps notI wrench my hand up behind me, my wand hand.
'Impedimenta!'
He leaves my side and I roll onto my back to see him fly backwards, back and back, landing sprawled on the
ground a few feet away from me.
We both pull ourselves to our feet, brandishing our wands like weapons, circling each other. His eyes flicker
down, and his face dawns with understanding.
'So,' he says eventually. 'You've got yourself a wand. But you forget, muggles have no right to wands.' He
breathes out a laugh and holds his hand out to me. 'Hand it over. Just give it to me, and I'll take you home.'
Home? The arrogant bastard!
'Home was where my parents lived, Lucius!' I keep my wand firmly in my hand, which shakes in fury.
'Home will never, ever be that place where you keep me. Never. I have no home, you saw to that, didn't you?
Stupe-'
'Protego!'
The curse rebounds away from him, shooting off into the night.
He's laughing at me.
'Come, come, Hermione, surely a witch of your calibre should be able to do better than that?'
Hermione?
The word knocks all the air out of me.
254

He realises what he's done, realises as soon as he's said it. His face blanches and contorts with rage.
But there's nothing he can do to change it now. No longer Mudblood, or muggle, not even Miss Granger but
Hermione.
Ha!
He raises his wand as he takes in my expression.
'Stupefy!'
But I duck and I roll, roll away from him and I start to run before I feel an invisible hook pull me back, back
towards him
I land on my feet, thank god. He makes a grab for my neck but I wrench round to face him. He won't win
again, he won't hurt me anymore, he won't he won't he won't!
'Crucio!'
He's knocked back, yells out in pain as he's thrown off his feet
But he doesn't continue to scream. He just lies there, taking a few deep breaths.
I can't have done it properly. I must have got the hand motion wrong, or something.
You should be glad it didn't work. It's an unforgivable, remember?
So what? Doesn't he deserve to suffer like I have?
Yeah. You bet he bloody does!
His wand. It's fallen from his hand. It's there, on the grass
He sits up, his breathing harsh, and he sees it, sees it just as I do.
I don't have time to think about it. I lunge on the wand, and he does exactly the same thing. He manages to
grab hold of it and I don't even think about what I'm doing I've got this wand, and I'm damned if I'm not
going to use it.
I grip him by the wrist and I shoot a burning hex at his hand. He sucks in his breath and I do it again, and
again, and again, leaving smouldering red strips across his hand, again and again until his fingers loosen and
I wrench the wand out of his grip, standing up and looking down at him crouched by my feet.
By my feet.
Oh, and there's fear in his eyes now, isn't there just?
'Burning Hexes, Mudblood?'
I glare at him. So it's Mudblood now, is it?
'That's Dark Magic, isn't it?' he goes on. 'I thought that was a branch of magic too low for you-'
I snap and throw my wand out at him again, shooting another hex at him. I don't know where it hits, but he
hisses in pain.
255

'You took me this low, and you can suffer the consequences!' I shout at him.
He moves himself up onto his knees, laughing at me.
'You're so eager to justify your actions,' he drawls. 'You can twist anything to suit your purpose, can't you?
What a fine Death-Eater you would have made, if only your blood had been pure-'
'But it isn't is it?' I shout as I move closer to him, both wands pointed at his face. 'You should know, you
bastard, you killed my muggle parents!'
'No, my dear Mudblood, you're quite mistaken - you killed them!' He laughs with pure malice. 'You killed
them by parading yourself as a witch. They would be alive now, if you hadn't had the audacity to enter our
world, leaving your own behind!'
I feel such rage and such anger as I have never known flying through me, pounding through my veins like
electricity. Without thinking about what I'm doing I raise my wand
'Crucio!'
And he screams then. He writhes on the ground, howling in agony, and almost immediately I lift the curse,
horrified by what I've done.
Oh god oh god oh god, how could I have done that? It's evil, it's brutal, it's
It's just like him.
He remains still on the ground for a moment, breathing hard as if he's been running before he staggers up
onto his knees again, looking at me with the deepest loathing but I'm not scared of him. I've got the power
now, me!
'How does it feel?' I ask, shaken by the depths of my hatred. 'How does it feel to be treated like shit just for
being alive?'
At first he doesn't react, and just for a second his hand moves to his boot, and I'm not sure, but I could swear
I saw something.
His face thaws to laughter as he stands up, distracting me, looking down at me with challenge and almost no
fear at all.
'So kill me, then,' he mutters. 'Kill me, my little Mudblood. You said once that your one consolation was the
thought of my death. Why don't you kill me now, and end it all tonight?'
I freeze.
This is it. This is the moment I've been dreaming of ever since he ground my broken fingers under his shoe.
He smiles at me, smiles in the face of death at I point my wand into his face.
Perhaps he's not such a coward, after all.
I can do it; I've seen it done before. I know the incantation, the wrist movement, and god knows I want it to
happen enough for there to be enough power behind the spell.
He killed my parents, and now I'll avenge them. The world will be a better place when he's gone.
256

It's not murder. It's justice.


So what am I waiting for?
He smiles at me, and then he moves very suddenly. I see a glint of silver and I don't have time to move
beforePain slams into my shoulder in white hot agony. I look at the source of it to see a knife planted in my
shoulder. His hand is clasped around the handle, his fingers bathed in my blood as the wound spills crimson
around the blade. My blood, my filthy blood, flowing all over his hand.
I cry out in sheer agony and shock because it hurts, it hurts so much, and I can feel it in me, oh my god, how
did that happen? When did it happen?
His boot. What I saw near his boot
Stupid, stupid, stupid, Hermione!
I look up at him desperately, frozen with agony. He stares down at me with perfect control, his lips twitching
into a smile.
'An eye for an eye,' he mutters. 'Isn't that the muggle saying? After all, I have an almost identical scar in
almost the exact same place on my shoulder. It's a scar that you created, don't you remember?'
I shake with the pain, frozen by it. My fingers seize up as I grip desperately onto the front of his robes, my
lips forming words that I don't even know the meaning of.
He rips the knife from my shoulder and I fall to my knees. Everything gives way and my fingers loosen
I drop the two wands to the floor.
17. Unimaginable
'How blessed are some people, whose lives have no fears, no dreads, to whom sleep is a blessing that comes
nightly, and brings nothing but sweet dreams.' - Bram Stoker, Dracula

He reaches down and closes his fingers around the two wands, and in one swift movement he's got all the
power in the world back under his grasp.
And I don't care. How can I care when I can barely breathe for agony?
I press my fingers to the open, gaping wound on my shoulder in the vain hope that I might stop the blood
from coming, that it might save my life, that it might take the pain away.
Whoever knew blood was so hot? That's another thing I've learned, thanks to him.
He doesn't move.
Doesn't speak.
How could he? How could he, after everything else that's happened?
257

Self defence. You were about to kill him.


But I wasn't. I couldn't do it.
And he knows that I couldn't. He knows.
I look up at him, my entire body rigid with pain. Tears just won't come for the force of it. I press my lips
together, breathing harshly through my nose and he sneers down at me, a malicious smile playing about his
lips. Not caring, not feeling, not feeling anything human at all.
'So,' he says triumphantly, 'tell me, Mudblood, now do you want me to take you home?'
It's like a punch in the stomach. He's still trying to win over me. He wants me to admit it wants me to
admit that I depend on him.
And I do, at this moment anyway, don't I?
'You you evil'
Words won't come. They clog in my throat. I groan and double over, choking on the words. He stands
perfectly still, enjoying this moment, no doubt.
Without looking up at him, I work up my strength to speak. 'Please, just help, please'
He wrenches me up to my feet before lifting me up by the waist and throwing me over his shoulder like
some prize of war.
'Hold on to me,' he mutters. 'If you don't want to lose more blood through splinching, then hold on to me for
all you're worth.'
I grip onto the back of his robes without even thinking. I don't care where we're going; I just need the pain in
my shoulder to stop.
The shouts, the screams and the bangs of the battle fall away as we press into the dark, squashed, airless void
of apparition, and I cling on to his robes for all I'm worth
We emerge into beautiful, fresh, clean air. The silence, compared to the noise and confusion we've just left
behind, almost deafens me. It's so quiet, so calm, so still. All there is now is me and Lucius, and all I can
hear is our own breathing.
He hauls me off his shoulder and lays me on the ground. The long cool grass tickles my bare feet, my hands,
my face. The clean, pure smell of it almost brings tears to my eyes. Why can't everything, the entire world,
be so unpolluted, so innocent?
I look up at him blankly as he leans over me, watching me. Black spots appear in my line of vision, floating
across his face.
He draws something out of his robes and he puts it down on the ground next to me, gently turning my head
to the side to look at it.
It takes me a few seconds to register what it is. Shorter than my own, and made of a darker wood. I never
looked at it until this moment. I was too busy trying to get away.

258

'You will never use magic again,' he says quietly. 'You will never again presume that you have a right to it.
One day, when your shoulder has healed, I shall punish you for what you did. I shall punish you for using
curses against me that you have no right to in the first place.'
His booted foot comes crushing down on the wand, snapping it clean in half, and only then do tears roll out
of my eyes. My one moment of power has gone. It'll never, ever come back. It's over. Finished.
I look beyond the broken wand to see the lake that leads to the Black's house.
His boot tucks itself under my cheek and rolls my head up to face him. The indignity of it doesn't even
register with me. His face, contorted with fierce triumph, blots everything else out.
'Never again,' he drawls. 'Magic is lost to you. A distant memory, nothing more.'
His face swims in front of me, the world sinks away, and I'm floating into darkness.

Pain shivers down my arm, up and down in horrible waves, pulsing down from my shoulder.
There's pressure there, making it hurt so badly I feel like I'm going to vomit
My eyes ease themselves open.
It all comes slowly into focus. There's a ceiling, a stone ceiling lit up with a dark golden glow
I recognise the ceiling.
'Try and stay awake if you can.' A voice, his voice. 'It will make things a lot simpler if I have your cooperation.'
I roll my head over to look at him, but he doesn't meet my gaze. He's tending to my shoulder by the light of a
single candle lit up on my bedside table.
My bedside table. My bedroom. My bedroom in my home, because I don't suppose I have anywhere else I
could call home now, do I? This prison this tomb - is my only home now.
His breathing flutters gently on my bare shoulder.
My bare shoulder
I flick my gaze to it in fear, but it's only my shoulder that's bare. He's moved my robe down slightly so that
he can fix my shoulder up.
He lifts up my arm, wrapping a piece of linen under my shoulder, then over, round and round again.
The blood's all gone. Disappeared like it was never there.
I wonder if he can erase the blood from his memory quite so completely. Because god knows, I won't be able
to. I can still see the bright crimson of it, smell the iron bitter-sweetness of it.
Can he always clean up so effectively after his crimes? Don't they sit in his mind, festering and rotting there
until they drive him mad?
259

He flicks his eyes up to meet mine for a second, and I know that I'm hoping for things that aren't there. He
probably doesn't even know what the word 'remorse' means.
'Knife wounds this deep take a few hours to heal,' he says, telling me things that I already know but I never
really thought I'd have to deal with. 'They can't be healed with a simple spell. I have bandaged it up to the
best of my ability, but you'll need to take this potion in order for the wound to heal overnight.'
He hands me a small tumbler of dark blue liquid that he must have poured out before I came to. From the
look of it, it might be a healing potion combined with a blood-replenishing potion, but I'm not sure
It doesn't matter anyway. What does my knowledge matter now? All that matters in this place is getting
through each day.
'Drink it,' he says curtly.
I sit up, wincing at the pain in my shoulder. I could scream at it. Oh ohI will not show him how much it hurts.
Did it hurt him this much when I stabbed him?
Who cares! He deserved it. What does it matter whether it hurt him or not?
It matters I don't want to have caused someone this much pain
No. He's not a someone. I've got to remember what he's done to me.
I drink the potion, and a not-unpleasant heat spreads to my shoulder. It dulls the pain, but it doesn't take it
away.
I sigh with relief and sit back onto my pillows, closing my eyes for a second. So tired, oh so tired. Could
sleep forever
No. Not with him here.
I drag my eyelids up.
He's looking at me strangely. It's as if I've asked him a question he doesn't know the answer to.
Our eye contact is shattered when he sucks in his breath quickly, and he grips at his wrist, his face creasing
into a grimace.
Thoughts form themselves in my mind for the first time since the Aurors entered the Burrow. His Dark Mark
is burning. Voldemort is calling him.
And for the first time, I wonder why why he did what he did back there.
I need to know. I need it explained to me.
'What are you going to tell him when he asks?'
I trail off as he looks up at me, his face darkening with fury and, if I'm not mistaken, fear.
'When he asks what, exactly?'
260

I know that I shouldn't push it, but I need to know.


'You went to the Burrow to capture Harry,' I whisper. 'You were in charge of the operation, weren't you? You
must have been, otherwise why were they all doing as you ordered?'
His face is clouding over yet further, but he doesn't say anything to stop me.
'But when the Order moved in you didn't choose to go after Harry, the person you were sent to capture in the
first place. Instead you went after an insignificant, Mudblood prisoner. How are you going to explain that to
him? What are you going to-'
He grips me by the neck, slamming my head back painfully against the headboard of my bed.
'Don't presume to question my behaviour!' he hisses.
He holds my throat in his hand, pinching cruelly at it, loathing etched all over his face, and just as I begin to
gag for air he stands up, wrenching his hand away from me. I gasp and rub at my neck, getting my breath
back.
'My actions were the right ones,' he says quietly, and I'm not sure whether he's talking to me or to himself.
'With luck, the Dark Lord will see that. I couldn't just allow such an important prisoner to escape if there was
a chance that Potter might not be captured. Besides, perhaps Potter was taken, after all'
His words trail off as he walks over to the door. He pulls a tiny hip-flask out of his robes, taking a swig from
it without looking at me. I can smell the bitter, heady smell of alcohol from over here.
Steeling his nerve, I'll bet, for what's about to come.
'Go to sleep,' he says shortly, before swinging the door open and banging it shut behind him.
The candle on my bedside table flickers out in the draft created by the door, and I close my eyes, allowing
merciful darkness to take me into its hold.

Sleep drifts away from me, and for long moments I lie in between the worlds of sleep and consciousness, my
dreams fading away from me and the dark coldness of reality seeping over me once more.
There's no light in the room. I can't have been asleep for too long, otherwise he'd have come back by now,
wouldn't he?
Perhaps I should go back to sleep again. It's not as if I have anything else to do. Besides, I really am
exhausted too exhausted to worry about him coming back...
I turn over onto my front, resting my cheek against the pillow.
I could pull my duvet over me no. Too hot.
I move my hair away from my neck and trail my arm across the bed, my fingers falling off the edge of the
mattress, and I wait until sleep washes over me again.

I drift into consciousness, licking my paper-dry lips as my eyes ease themselves open.
261

I never used to have such trouble sleeping before I was captured. Now I'm lucky if I can get a few straight
hours sleep, let alone a full night.
Oh.
My eyes widen when I realise what exactly it is that's woken me up this time.
Oh.
Something traces delicately up and down my back. Up my spine and down.
A small gasp eases from my lips, barely audible. I shift my eyes, but I can't see anything. Just impenetrable
darkness.
There's a slight dip in the mattress by my hips.
I hold my breath and listen for all I'm worth, trying desperately to ignore the shiver that threatens to run
through me.
Up and down.
It's someone, I can tell that much. Those are fingers on my back I can feel that, even through my robes.
I listen again, pressing my ears into the darkness.
All I can hear is breathing; too fast, too heavy.
I swallow. The fingers halt in their path.
I close my eyes quickly and try to regulate my breathing, keeping it soft and steady. If they think I'm asleep,
maybe they'll go away.
Who is it, anyway?
Stupid question, who do you think it is?
It might not necessarily be him.
Who else would it be?
Dolohov, perhaps?
He's not subtle enough for this.
Well then Draco, maybe?
I almost shudder at the thought of it. I don't want the ferret I don't want the ferret to touch me like this.
Besides, if I'm being completely honest, I'm clutching at straws here. It's not Draco. I know that it's not.
'Deception was never your strong point, Mudblood.'
That cold drawl confirms his identity. Too deep and languid to be his son's, and too refined for Dolohov
I keep my eyes closed tight shut for fear.
262

What does he want? After everything else, what does he want?


Is he back from going to see Voldemort already? How the hell did he manage to explain himself to him?
What does that matter? That's hardly what's important right now, is it?
'It's impolite to ignore me, you know.'
He grips at my shoulder, wrenching me round onto my back. I can't bite back the cry of pain as his fingers
dig into the raw wound on my shoulder.
He presses his fingers to my lips. 'Be quiet.'
What is he doing? I'm I'm a Mudblood, for god's sake, what is he doing?
He trails his fingers down my throat. I'd be surprised if he couldn't feel my pulse; my blood pounding under
my skin.
No, this is ridiculous! Why haven't I tried to stop him already? He won't play these games with me anymore,
he won't!
I wrench my hand up, but he catches it before it reaches him, his fingers biting into my wrist, bruising my
skin.
'I don't think so,' he says quietly, firmly. He lifts my arm up above my head and he pins it by my wrist to the
headboard behind me. 'You will stay still, do you understand me?'
But why? Why? What do you want?
I swallow sharply, saying nothing, but I nod. It's not as if I can do anything else, is it? There's no way out for
me, unless he chooses to present me with one.
'Good,' he mutters.
How is it that he can see my reaction?
Oh, yes. The hand of glory. He can see my reaction to his touch, but I can't see his face, his hands, his body.
He can see me, I can't see him.
It's not fair!
The whole situation's not fair. After everything, everything he's done to me, how can he how can he
The most awful thing is that it's not completely surprising to me anymore, not after everything else that's
happened. It's almost as if I've been waiting for this, and after everything else he's done to me this should
seem pretty tame, but but
Bellatrix's words float through my mind.
-You're too proud to admit that there's one thing in this world you can't haveAnd she's right. He's always had everything, always been able to have anything. His money and position
have given him everything in the world, and yet the one thing he controls in every way, the one thing he
wants all-reaching power over, is the one thing he can't have.
263

Or thinks he can't have.


His fingertips rest on my throbbing throat.
It seems he's growing sick of the boundaries he's set for himself.
All I can hope is that he won't go too far.
His fingers trail down, down, and further down, leaving a tingling, burning trail in their path.
My heart stops in my chest.
'The Dark Lord couldn't understand why I went after you instead of Potter,' he murmurs. 'No, he didn't
understand my behaviour at all. Especially seeing as my colleagues were too inept to capture Potter after we
left.'
Harry's free. Oh, thank god.
But
His fingers trail down and sideways, tracing ever so lightly over my breast. So lightly I can barely feel it
through the thin material of my robe.
I bite my lip before I work myself up to speak out. 'Please don't punish me just because he punished you.'
His fingers bite harder into my wrist on the headboard, and my own gasp cuts off my words.
'Don't talk to me,' he mutters violently. 'Keep quiet unless I tell you to speak.'
I press my lips together. I've got no option but to do so.
Why? He might not have his wand with him.
Of course he does! And even if he doesn't he could still beat me up if I don't just
If I just lie still and give no reaction then perhaps he'll get bored and leave me alone.
'But in answer to your question; no, I'm not going to punish you,' he says quietly. 'I just want to see if you
were worth the trouble I've gone to for you.'
His fingers circle and cup my breast, his thumb oh god, his thumb running oh-so-gently over my nipple.
It feels weird. Not that it's unpleasant. It would be better if it was.
I swallow sharply. I won't give him the satisfaction of a reaction.
No. For god's sake, he's married, sleeping with his wife's sister, he's got a son my age, and he he
'You can't treat me like this!' I whisper.
'But I can, Mudblood,' he says. 'I can do what I like with you, because I own you, do you understand? You
are mine.'
'I'm not yours-'
264

'No?' His fingers leave my breast, trailing down, skimming over my hip. My breath catches in my throat and
my insides all lock together but he just moves his hand further down, coming to rest on my thigh and
pushing my robe up higher, higher, until it's up past my knee.
'If you were not mine, then I would have no right to touch you,' he murmurs, hooking his fingers into the
curve under my knee. 'But you have no rights. You're a prisoner. You are only alive now thanks to my mercy.
And so I can touch you, and I will, because you belong to me. Your mind, your soul your body. They all
belong to me, and that means I can do exactly what I like with them.'
Two words spin through my mind. Power trip, power trip, power trip. I hate him. He doesn't care about my
feelings at all, only, only that he has complete control over someone that he probably doesn't even see as a
proper human being anyway.
He grips tighter under my knee and pulls my hips up to meet his in one sharp movement. I gasp, and he
breathes a laugh. 'That's right, just a little reaction. It's very rude of you to try and ignore me when I have the
good manners to pay you any attention at all.'
Bastard. Bloody bloody bastard, how dare he make it out to be like like I should be grateful for this!
His hand moves up, away from my leg to brush my hair away from my shoulder. It tingles as it floats over
my bare neck, leaving it exposed to the cold air. And I know I should hate that as much as anything else,
but there's nothing implicitly threatening in that gesture, is there?
'Now,' he relaxes his grip on my wrist, 'I am going to let go of you. But if you struggle then I shall make you
sorry for it. Is this in any way unclear?'
I shake my head, hardly able to breathe. 'No.'
I can hear him smirking. 'Good.'
He unpeels his fingers from my wrist, and I bring my arm down from the headboard.
'He punished me, when he learned that I had let Potter go,' he mutters, still leaning over me. 'And so I have
to wonder - are you worth the trouble I have gone to for you? After all you are, strictly speaking, less than a
human being, really. Why should I have gone to such trouble for you?'
He hooks his fingers into the neckline of my robe, gradually easing it off of my shoulders, inch by painful
inch, pulling my arms out of the neckline until it's gathered around my waist, my breasts completely exposed
to him in the cold, unforgiving black air.
I wrench my arms round automatically, trying desperately to keep myself shielded, but he just breathes a
small laugh.
'There's no point in attempted modesty now, Mudblood.'
I press my lips together and turn my head, thanking god that I can't see his hated face above me.
'And seeing as I've done so much for you, I find it a little galling that you think to deprive me of my rights.'
Bastard. Bastard. I hate him.
But there's a vein of steel in his voice that's impossible to ignore, and so I let my arms relax, allowing him to
pluck them away from my breasts, pinning them to the mattress next to me. I press my lips firmly together as
I feel his eyes running over me, leaving burning, red hot trails in their path.
265

The warmth of a blush spreads over my cheeks, down over my breasts.


He takes in a deep breath and lets it out very quickly.
Oh god, oh god.
'Perhaps you are worth my trouble, after all,' he murmurs.
What's that supposed to mean?
'But perhaps we aught to make sure of the fact, hmm?'
His weight crushes my breath as he leans over me fully, coming so so close, and I don't know what to do.
I've never I've never done more than kiss a boy, and now I have to with Lucius Malfoy, of all people
I always thought that this would be about love and trust, not power and twisted games and hatred.
And with Ron Weasley. Not with my parents' murderer.
He's coming closer. I can feel his breathing brush my lips.
I close my eyes, and
Nothing.
'Ha.' He breathes out the word in a tiny, angry rush. 'I don't think so, somehow. You nearly got your way
then, didn't you, you little muggle whore?'
I open my eyes.
What?
Pain rips across my face as he slaps me hard, once, twice, again and again. My ears ring and I cry out with
each hit.
'Shut up, you filthy Mudblood!' he mutters viciously. 'You disgust me!'
He wrenches me to my feet and throws me across the room. I stumble in the darkness and fall into
something, something hard that bruises and batters me, and then there's a huge, ringing crash.
My dressing table. It must have been.
The mirror's broken, then.
A hand tangles in my hair, pulling me upright, and he punches me hard across the jaw. Technicolour
fireworks explode behind my eyes.
Stop. Stop. Stop stop stop stopstopstop!
Slap.
Please stop, pleaseplease 'Please stop!'
Smack.
266

'I told you to shut up!'


He's lost his mind.
I'm thrown to the floor, and I claw at the stone, scrambling away from him, but he rolls me over onto my
back, andOhmygodpleaseOooooooowowow, get off, OFF, oh sweet godHis heel grinds into the open wound on my shoulder. 'Tell me that you will never behave so despicably
again,' I hear him hiss over my own cries of pain. 'SAY IT!'
Somehow, god only knows how, I force the words out of me, hearing them ride on my sobs.
'I will never behave so despicably again.'
'LOUDER!'
Oh, it's not fair it's not fair, I didn't do anything!
'I will never behave so despicably again!'
Oh, oh, please get off, please, ohHis foot leaves my shoulder.
I curl up on my side, trying to push the humiliating sobs back down inside of me.
'Good,' he mutters.
I press my fingers onto the damp bandage, tasting blood as my teeth tear into my lip.
He takes a short breath.
'You should avoid provoking me into a rage,' he says quietly, calmly. 'And you should certainly abandon the
idea of using cheap methods to get around me. I will not tolerate such behaviour from anyone, let alone a
filthy Mudblood. I'd appreciate it if you could try to exert a little more self control in future.'
His footsteps ring across the floor. The door grinds open, then slams.
Is he?
I cautiously look out into my room, but I can't see anything, of course I can't.
And so I listen.
There's nothing there. Just the harsh raggedness of my own breathing.
18 Triangle
'He's always, always in my mind not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself but
as my own being.' Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
267

HERMIONE JANE GRANGER. F. AGE: 17.


Displays features of A. Severe Depression
B. Anxiety Disorder
C. Obsessive Behaviour
ADMITTED FOR LONG TERM RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT. BUILDING RESTRICTION UNTIL
FURTHER NOTICE. TWENTY-FOUR HOUR WATCH.

Shaking, I curl myself up into a ball. I roll onto my side so that my shoulder doesn't have to come into
contact with the hard, cold ground, but it doesn't make any difference anyway because my whole body hurts
now. Everything he slapped and smacked and punched in his rage
And my mind, my soul those two hurt most of all.
I curl my arms up and wrap them around my head, willing more than anything for everything to go away and
leave me alone in the darkness to die.
I want my mum.
Tears cling just behind my eyes and I shake with silent sobs, but I don't give myself over to the screams of
misery that well up inside of me. I won't give him that satisfaction.
Not that he can hear me, anyway.
I don't know what to believe anymore.
Maybe it was just another mind game of his. It wouldn't be the first time he'd tried to mess with my head.
But no. If it was just a game this time, he wouldn't have let it go that far.
And he wouldn't have lost it like that. He's never lost it like that before, ever. Not without using his wand.
But the only other option is is that
I need to believe that it was a mind game, even if it wasn't. The other option is just unbelievable.
Well, no. Not unbelievable. I might not be pretty and I might be young but he's used to being able to have
anything he wants. Not that he wants me, exactly, but like Bellatrix said, it must kill him to know that there's
one thing, so close at hand and so beneath him in every way, that he can't have because he won't allow
himself to.
No, it's not unbelievable.
Unthinkable, then.
And the worst thing is that tomorrow he's going to punish me in some way for something he's done.
Or perhaps no. He's probably so disgusted at what just happened that he'll pretend that it didn't happen.
That it was all a figment of my imagination.
Pathetic, delusional Mudblood.
268

I pull myself up, wincing at the pain in my shoulder, and I sit still, hugging my knees to my chest.
Why can't I just have some light? Why does everything have to be a form of torture now, even my time
alone? I thought I'd stopped being scared of the dark years ago.
But then I came here, and I learned to fear everything.
Why didn't I get away from him when I had the chance?
Why is it that his will and his actions not only govern my life but now saturate my mind to the point that I
can't ever think of anything else?
I'm going to suffocate. My own thoughts and my own emotions are going to asphyxiate me, drown me, kill
me.
I hate him for taking me over. I hate him for treating me like a possession. I hate him because he's always
there, at the back of everything, always in my mind, the mere thought of him causing me pain beyond
imagining, always, always
I hate him for entering my soul.
You haven't given up every means of escape, Hermione.
My mind goes blank. Anesthetised by the prospect of release.
I crawl my way over the floor, feeling my way across the ground.
It doesn't take me long to find them. Shards of broken glass from the mirror; sharp, edgy, dangerous. None of
them big enough to use as any sort of weapon, so I'm not going to try it, but their edges are sharp enough for
my purpose.
I pick a fragment up and run my finger over the razor-sharp edge of it. A searing pain breaks across my
finger tip, and I feel blood ooze out of my skin and roll down my finger.
He taught me once that if you slash your wrists it's more effective to cut down the vein rather than across it.
When he did it to me, I thought the blood would never stop coming.
If I did that now, ran the broken glass down the veins on my wrists, there would be no-one to stop me, noone to heal me, no-one to keep me here in this hell-hole.
I want to get out of here. Now.
And I can do it. He won't be able to stop me, because it'll be too late by the time he gets back. He'll arrive
and I'll be dead, and then will he be sorry? Will he feel guilty if he finds me lifeless in a pool of my own
blood, my eyes glassy and open, a shard of broken glass still clutched in my hand?
Probably not.
I hold the slice of glass flat against my wrist. It's cold on my skin, but it doesn't cut yet. I just need to add a
little pressure and it will, and I'll bleed and I'll cry but then I'll be out of here.
And I'll see mum and dad again.
I take a huge gulp of air, trying to force my hand down onto my wrist, but as I do one name rings out clear in
my head, loud as a siren.
269

Ron.
I can't leave Ron. I can't do that to him. He needs me here with him, I can't leave him now.
I won't be selfish like Lucius is.
Damn it.
I press my lips together and I fling the shard of glass out into the darkness. It clatters as it falls to the ground,
snapping in half from the sounds of it.
That's two mirrors I've broken today.
I sit back, pressing my chin into my knees.
Lucius wants me alive. He might hate to admit it, but if he didn't he would have killed me when Voldemort
gave him the option to do so. If he didn't want me around, if he didn't care what happened to me, he would
have let me go when we were at the Burrow instead of risking his position, maybe even his life, to bring me
back here.
If you kill yourself it will have all been for nothing. If you were to die then you would really have won.
I won't go so far as to kill myself just to spite him. He isn't worth that.
Isn't he?
I crawl to my bed, pulling myself up onto it and wrapping myself up in my blankets, pulling them right up
over my head, shaking and shaking until I unwillingly fall asleep out of sheer exhaustion.

'you belong to me. Your mind, your soul your body. They all belong to me, and that means I can do
exactly what I like with them'
He smiles at me, looming over me in the darkness.
'Now then, Mudblood, where were we?'
I bolt up, sweating and shaking.
Nothing. There's nothing. Just a dream. A nightmare.
However bad my nightmares are, though, they're never as bad as what happens when I wake up.
The candles flicker dimly in their holders.
When do those lights come on, I wonder? Is it daytime? Do those candles magically light themselves when
the sun rises outside?
Or have they been lit while I was asleep? Has someone been here, lighting the candles in preparation for
when I wake up?
No, someone must have been here, because my dressing table is standing upright again and the mirror is
whole once more, not even cracked, reflecting the room perfectly. Someone, and I bet I knew who it was,
270

was here, repairing the damage they've done while I slept nearby, shaking in my sleep because of the
nightmares he himself caused me to have.
Bastard. Does he really think that he can erase everything he's done just like that?
Why else do you think he always heals you after he's tortured you?
I pull myself wearily out of bed and pad across my bedroom into the bathroom. I peel off my robe and get in
the bath, wanting to wash it all away, wanting to cleanse myself of the memory of Lucius' hands on me.
It's like when he touched me he peeled my skin away and got to the bare blood and bones underneath.
It's not revulsion I feel; it's not so basic an emotion as revulsion. If it were Dolohov that had done those
things it would be one hundred times simpler, but because it's Lucius
Confusion makes up a bulk of what I feel. Fear, too, and hatred. So much hatred for him because what gives
him the right to treat me like some kind of possession, to blame me for what he's done just because he finds
it easier than blaming himself?
But there's something more. It's like an ache I can't heal. A yawning, gaping emptiness that can't be filled.
My soul is mine, not his toy to be played with.
I get out of the bath and I get dressed in the plainest robe I can find in my wardrobe, the one with the highest
neck, the longest skirt and the longest sleeves in the plainest colour - black. I comb through my wet hair,
towel dry it, then dab at my new cuts and bruises with the healing lotion on my miraculously fixed dressing
table. I get rid of all the evidence that last night ever happened.
Everything except the memories the strongest evidence of all.

It's not until what feels like hours later that someone arrives at my door.
I turn around quickly, hugging my arms defensively around my chest, wondering what he could possibly
want now after everything else
But it's not him this time.
Dolohov stands in the doorway, his face twisted yet further with a hideous, mocking grin.
'Someone to see you,' he says, coming into the room and pulling someone in with him by the arm.
I sigh in absolute relief when I see who it is.
Ron. Ron Weasley. The one decent thing left in my world. He looks so relieved to see me it forces guilt and
love and heartbreak down my throat. How could I ever have thought of leaving him here alone?
Neither of us smile or say anything to each-other. We just take huge steps forward and throw our arms
around each-other. He nearly lifts me off my feet with the fierceness of his hold on me.
'All day long he's been going on at me.' I hear Dolohov's mocking voice, but it barely registers with me. I
press my head into Ron's shoulder, breathing in the sweet smell of him. 'He wouldn't believe that you hadn't
escaped or been killed last night. Are you satisfied now, Weasley, that your little friend is back?' He laughs
horribly. 'Oh yes, she's back alright. Lucius saw to that, didn't he, Mudblood?'
271

Ron's grip on me tightens.


No. No, Ron, don't listen, please don't listen.
Too late. He breaks away from me and turns back to the door, facing Dolohov with a tight expression. I
wonder for an insane moment whether there's a possibility that both me and Ron could take him on, but then
I see Dolohov's wand clutched tightly in his hand.
Magical power's the only thing that matters in this house.
Something sparks in my mind along with that thought, but I can't quite work out what it is.
'What's that supposed to mean?' Ron asks.
I look in panic from one to the other, willing them to go no further, not wanting Ron to know
But Dolohov just won't leave it alone. He looks at the pair of us with intense malicious glee, because, of
course, he must just love this whole scenario. He probably wet himself with joy when he heard about what
Lucius did at the Burrow.
'But of course, you don't know, do you? You don't know exactly why she didn't escape last night. You don't
know why it's her we've got in our power rather than Potter-'
'Stop it!' I say desperately. 'That's enough!'
A ripping, tearing pain crosses my face. I clutch at my cheek, tears stinging my eyes as I watch Dolohov's
raised wand apprehensively.
He continues to talk to Ron, but he's looking at me. Every word he utters is intended for me, I know it.
'Last night, Potter didn't come to your parents' house alone,' Dolohov says quietly, smiling at me. 'He brought
half the Order with him to join the party.' He walks over to us and he begins to circle me. Ron watches his
every movement, but I keep my eyes on the floor. 'And when it all came to a head and the Death-Eaters were
battling the Order and all of those loyal to the Dark Lord knew that their first order was to capture Harry
Potter, just what did Lucius do?'
He comes all the closer as he circles me. I keep my gaze on the floor. If he doesn't get a reaction then
perhaps he'll just sod off.
He leans in to me, talking to me in a stage whisper. 'Instead of going after Potter, he focused all his energies
on re-capturing this insignificant little Mudblood.' He chuckles. 'He's made himself quite unpopular with the
Dark Lord with that little manoeuvre, let me tell you.'
'But why?' Ron's asks. 'Why would he do that? It doesn't make any sense.'
Dolohov turns away from me and laughs as he walks over to the door. I chance a look up to see him pause in
the doorway, turning to us with a horrible, spiteful smile on his face.
'Does it need spelling out, Weasley?' he says in a drawl almost worthy of Lucius.
Fresh tears roll down my cheeks and Dolohov leaves the room, closing the door behind him, locking Ron
and I in the room together alone.

272

I roll my gaze downwards and I look steadfastly at my feet, trying to stop the treacherous tears from falling.
I feel all wrong: guilty, somehow, even though I haven't done anything wrong, not exactly. It was all Lucius,
all him'Hermione?'
I work myself up to look at him from under my hair. He looks like someone who's about to discover that
their worst nightmare has come true.
'Are you going to tell me what's going on?'
His voice shakes with pain and I can't bear it. I reach out to touch him, but he shakes my hand away. It's like
a slap in the face.
'Nothing,' I say passionately. 'It's nothing. You know what Dolohov's like, he'd say anything-'
'Is it true?' he asks quietly, his eyes dark with fear. 'Is it true that Malfoy came to re-capture you even though
he was ordered to capture Harry?'
I can't lie to him. No other explanation I could give would be remotely plausible. Anyway, he could always
chance to ask Bellatrix, and wouldn't she be only too happy to back Dolohov up?
God, I hate those two. What exactly is their problem? Why can't they just believe that there's nothing going
on?
Because that's not really completely true, is it?
I want to shrivel up and die.
'Yes, it's true,' I say quietly.
His face is vanilla ice-cream frozen and pale 'Why?'
'I don't know!' I say, half-truthfully. 'How am I meant to know how his mind works?'
He takes a few deep breaths, as if he's afraid of what he's about to ask. 'Has he tried anything? Tell me,
Hermione, I need to know. I'll kill him if he has.'
Has he done anything to me? He's done everything to me, and yet he's done nothing to me. What kind of
answer can I give to that question?
'He hasn't done anything!' I swear, Lucius making a liar of me once again. 'He wouldn't ever. I'm muggleborn, remember? Do you know what he told me last night? He told me that I'm less than a human being.
Would he try something with someone he feels like that about?'
I hate myself for lying, but Ron's reaction makes me breathe a little easier. His face calms down a little,
though his voice is shaky with anger. 'He can't talk to you like that.'
'I know he shouldn't, but he does anyway,' I say, my voice rising hysterically. I've been holding it all locked
within myself and now it's all spilling to the surface. 'It never ends, ever. Every day he comes here to torment
me some more. I thought he'd taken everything but then my parents my parents'
My heart breaks just to say the word. Every moment I think about them makes me want to die of agony.
273

Ron pulls me up into a hug, and I rest my head on my shoulder, determinedly pushing my tears back within
myself.
He pulls back and looks at me. His blue eyes are so much clearer, so much more colourful than Lucius'
piercing grey ones. I can look into them and feel no fear, just safety.
'We'll get revenge for it, Hermione, I promise you,' he says with absolute certainty. 'As soon as we get out of
here, we'll make him pay for what he's done.'
I don't say anything. I just nod, knowing deep inside that it's all hopeless. Even if we could get out of here,
which I doubt we ever will, I've already proved that I couldn't take revenge on him even if I tried to. I had
my chance and I blew it.
'I was so worried' Ron seems to struggle to get his voice out. 'I didn't know what had happened to you.
They never tell me anything.'
'But Dolohov said that he'd told you I was here.'
'He did, but I didn't know whether to believe him. I thought he might be lying to shut me up. I can't tell when
they're lying or not, 'cos they never speak to me.' His voice is hard and bitter. 'All they ever do is bring me
my food and occasionally take me for walks round the garden.'
'There's a garden?' I ask incredulously.
'Yeah,' he says, looking confused. 'Out the back. It's not really a garden, actually. It's strange. I think it's
inside the cave, if that makes sense.' He shakes his head. 'But you must have been to it!'
'No,' I say quietly. 'I only ever leave this room when they want me for something.'
He looks horrified. 'God, Hermione, what do you do with your time?'
I breathe out a tiny, hysterical laugh. 'I wait for for him to come,' I say truthfully, everything boiling up to
the surface. 'He comes here every day to torment me. Whether it's for his own personal enjoyment or for his
'duty' to Voldemort, it makes no difference. Every day he's here, torturing me in some way or another.'
Ron's face goes scarlet with anger. 'What does he do to you?'
I can't be completely truthful, so I leave some details out. I have to, for Ron's sake. And so what I say is
actually quite far from the truth, just because it's far too simplistic an explanation for what's really going on.
'He beats me up,' I say quietly. 'Or he uses magic on me, whatever he feels like that day. Usually because I
provoke him.' My voice starts to rise hysterically again. 'I can never keep my mouth shut, I can never just
shut up and let him win, and so he carries on, and on, never leaving it alone until he feels like he's won. If I
could only keep quiet-'
'But why should you?' Ron says, his own voice rising with rage. 'Why should you let him win? Why
shouldn't you try to fight back?'
'Because he has complete power over me!' I walk around the room, frantically wringing my hands. 'He
controls my entire existence. Every moment of my life now centres around his whim. What else can I do but
do as he says?'
'You can continue to fight back!' Ron grabs me by the shoulders, shaking me. 'He's not God, Hermione!'

274

'He may as well be!' I shake his hands away, and I turn to the wall, away from him. 'You don't understand!
He said once that he'll never let me escape him, and he's right, because even if we do get out of here I'll
never be able to forget him! His face will haunt my nightmares for the rest of my life. I'll never be able to go
out for fear of him. I'll never be free of him, never-'
He spins me around and grips me around the waist, holding me to him tightly and staring ferociously into
my eyes as he brings his hand up to rub furiously at my cheek.
'I promise you we'll get out of here,' he says fiercely, quietly. 'And when we do, I swear that I'll protect you.
I'm going to look after you. I-'
The door bangs open. I turn my head quickly and my stomach contracts in on itself to see Lucius standing in
the doorway.
All the memories of last night come rushing back to me, writing a blush of shame across my face.
He freezes when he sees us, when he sees Ron's arm around my waist and his hand on my face. His face is
like granite harsh, stony, unmoving.
I instinctively back away from Ron, who lets go of my waist, but Lucius doesn't even look at him. He just
glares at me, a cold, hard sneer on his face.
'How touching,' he drawls, but he's smiling, of all things. With malice, of course, but he's still smiling. 'Or
perhaps I should say, how nauseating. Weasley, I know that your family are the lowest kind of scum, but that
does not give you, a pureblood, an excuse to dirty your hands on a Mudblood.'
He points his wand at Ron, who goes flying back into the wall behind him. He cries out as his body slams
into the stone, and my heart rips for him.
'We weren't Lucius, stop!' I storm over to him to try and wrench his wand away, but he reaches out and
grips me by the throat, still pointing his wand at Ron. I choke in his grasp, and when he looks into my eyes
all I can see is pure loathing as he for a moment lets his guard down.
'Don't you ever call me that again!' he whispers harshly, tightening his grip round my throat. I gag and gasp,
my throat contracting and expanding under his grip. He sneers at me in disgust before he throws me down on
the ground. My ankle twists underneath me painfully as I fall to the floor, gasping for air.
I watch his feet move away from me, not daring to look up into his face for fear of what I might see.
'And you, Weasley, will come with me. You shouldn't have been allowed up here in the first place.' I watch
two pairs of feet move across the ground, Lucius' striding in front, Ron's stumbling behind him. 'Wait for my
return, Mudblood. And if you haven't got up and made yourself a touch more agreeable by the time I get
back well, I assume you can imagine what the consequences will entail.'
The door opens.
'Hermione, I'm sorry-' Ron's voice wavers in the air.
The door slams shut.
Only then do I dare to look. I peer out from under the fuzzy brown haze of my hair.
They've gone.
I shiver and close my eyes, tears rolling down my cheeks, tangling into my hair.
275

I can't handle it. I just can't handle it anymore. I've never felt so confused in my entire life.
What right has he to be angry with me?
Every right in the world
No, he doesn't! He does not own me!
Maybe if he tries to say anything I could bring up last night but no. That would be against the rules.
Whose rules?
His rules, my rules it's all the same, isn't it?
I thought you said he doesn't own you.
The door slams open. He was quick to come back this time.
'I thought I told you to get up before I got back!'
A huge burst of pain cracks down my spine. I press my lips together and try stumble to my feet, but my
ankle hurts and I fall down again
A hand tangles itself in my hair and wrenches me upwards, dragging me over to the wall and slamming me
against it. His hand locks round my throat and then I have to look at him, I've got no choice. My eyes are
melting with tears but his are hardened with anger, squinted, narrowed.
'I'm sorry,' I whisper. His face curls into a malicious grin.
'You have a great deal of things you should be sorry for, Mudblood,' he drawls. 'Being born; that you should
be sorry for. Parading yourself as a witch; that you should be sorry for. Your insolence, your pride, your
insufferable supposed 'bravery'' He pauses for effect, that smile of his remaining firmly in place. 'But in
this instance you're going to have to be a bit more specific, I'm afraid. What exactly is it that you're sorry
for?'
No. I won't play games with you anymore.
He looks deeply into my eyes, his mind seeping into my own, pulling out my thoughts like a syringe would
pull out blood.
'Oh, you believe that you have need to apologise for your behavior with Weasley?' He laughs mockingly.
'Well, yes, I can see how you might wish to apologise for that. You know how I feel about a Pureblood
mixing with a Mudblood. But if you think that you need to say sorry because the thought of you and him
makes me angry, then you have no need.'
'But we weren't doing anything-'
A harsh burn whips across my face, and I reach my hand up to feel the swollen welt that rises on my cheek.
He wrenches my hand away from my face, replacing it with his own. He smiles and I wince as his fingers
trail over the wound.
'I have absolutely no interest in your relationship with him,' he says quietly.
He brushes his hand over my cheek, running his thumb over my lips, a cruel smile curling his own as I
shudder at his touch.
276

He's going to go too far.


I'm going to cry.
'You see, Mudblood, you belong to me,' he says quietly. 'And you know it. I see the truth staring back at me
from those defenceless eyes of yours.' He reaches down for my hand, circling his fingers around my wrist
and bringing it up to the wall next to me, pinning it there. 'You know that I haven't taken control of you
you have handed yourself over, given me complete power over you willingly.'
He flicks his wand over my arm and a harsh burn snaps across it. Tears collect in my eyes as I feel the skin
swell.
He sneers as he moves his face closer to mine. 'Weasley's charms just don't compare to the hold I have
over you. And you know it. It's pathetic, laughable, even, how you have unwillingly allowed yourself to
depend your entire existence on me.'
Another burning streak whips across my arm, crossing over the one he's already made. My nose stings and
silent tears roll out of my eyes. He breathes a laugh and lets go of my wrist, stepping away from me. I slide
to the ground in a haze of hopeless despair, hating him, hating the world, hating myself.
'You look like you have something to say, Mudblood.'
I look up at him, and I say the only words that come to me.
'I hate you,' I whisper.
He smirks. 'But of course you do. I wouldn't have it otherwise. Don't you remember me telling you how
hatred is so much more delicious than adoration?'
'Delicious?' I whisper. 'Well, feed off it then, Lucius Malfoy. I hate you so much that it makes me want to die.
Is that delicious enough for you?'
He smirks at me, his eyes gleaming darkly.
'And to think that I begrudged taking charge of you when the plan to capture you was first hatched.' My eyes
widen, and he sneers. 'What? Did you think that I actually asked for the job? I'm afraid not. After all, what
possible attraction could the task of taking care of an arrogant, ugly little muggle bookworm with a distinct
lack of social graces have for me?'
He may as well have slapped me across the face. But I don't say anything. The question I desperately want to
ask him is a thankless one.
'But he did insist, you see,' he carries on in that pitiless drawl, 'and now I have to confess I am glad that he
did. My time with you has been most entertaining.'
He crouches down next to me and takes my chin in his hand. 'Aren't you pleased that we have had this time
together? I daresay you can't even imagine an existence without me now.'
I can't stand it. I can't stand it, because he's right.
But it's all wrong! He's making out like I like I want him in my life, and I don't, I don't!
He curls a malicious grin at me. 'I want an answer to that, Mudblood.'
I just glare at him. I won't give him an answer, I won't won't won't.
277

He curls up his lip. 'So, you are so unbelievably arrogant that you won't admit something that you know to
be true anyway, but you do not have enough pride to avoid throwing yourself away on a Weasley?' He
breathes a laugh, running his eyes over me, but those eyes flicker with a different emotion, just for a second,
before it leaves once again. 'Perhaps you need a few more lessons in pride, Mudblood, and just when and
where it's necessary.'
Oh no.
He steps back from me and turns away, walking over to the door. When he reaches it he turns back to me, his
hand resting idly on the door handle.
'You will recall that my son expressed a desire to come and visit you during your stay here.'
I gasp in horror. Oh no, not Draco, I can't handle it
'You can't!' I whisper.
He smiles. 'I think you'll find that I can. But I am not without compassion, Mudblood.'
I can't believe he just said that.
'I will give you one hour to make yourself ready. My son's skills in magic are less honed than my own, but I
shall be there to instruct him, so you will need time to prepare yourself for what is about to come.'
He turns to go.
'Why can't you do it yourself?' I ask without really thinking about what consequences my words might have.
He turns back to me, a small smirk on his face. 'Would you like me to?'
I clamp my mouth shut. He laughs.
'One hour,' he repeats, before closing the door, locking it behind him.
19. Like Father, Like Son
'ANNE: O, wonderful, when devils tell the truth!
RICHARD: More wonderful, when angels are so angry.' - William Shakespeare, Richard III

It's strange. When we were at Hogwarts Draco seemed so much taller than he looks now.
He follows his father into my bedroom. Lucius turns to lock the door, trapping me in a room with a man and
a boy who probably hate me more than anything else in the world
Well, no. I can safely say that about Lucius, but I'm guessing that particular honour is reserved for Harry in
Draco's case.
But I'm sure I'm not far down his list.
I'm certain I'm at the top of Lucius' though. Regardless of whatever else might happen, I can always be
absolutely certain that he hates me.
278

It's what goes with that hate that I wish I knew more about.
They both stand in front of me, both of them in robes of black, an almost identical sneer on their pale faces.
They're so similar in every way
And yet so very different.
'Good afternoon, Miss Granger.'
Lucius' voice. Just a greeting, that's all. Nothing malicious in it, if you take it purely on objective terms.
I stand up straight as Draco smiles his spiteful smile at me. I'm not going to let this beat me. I mean, it's only
Draco, for crying out loud! I've had to face Voldemort himself, Bellatrix, Dolohov, and Lucius
All the same, it seems so wrong that I'm going to have to face god knows what coming from someone I've
known since I was eleven years old. I can remember Draco being sent sweets by owl post, gleefully
unwrapping them at the Slytherin house table.
Now he's going to torture me, under supervision from his precious bloody father.
More than anything, it's downright humiliating to know that Draco's finally going to triumph over me.
It doesn't matter, because whatever happens I think it's safe to say that Draco truly lives in his father's
shadow now. He'll never, ever scare me like Lucius does, no matter what he decides to do to me today.
'Alright, Granger?' Malfoy junior asks, practically sniggering at me. 'Lovely day, isn't it? Brilliant weather
for this time of year. But, of course,' he grins maliciously, 'you wouldn't know, would you, being stuck in
here all day.'
I want to roll my eyes, but as my gaze flickers to Lucius I see that he's already doing just that.
Oh, not at me. No, that would indicate some kind of comradeship. No, it's just to himself.
Draco doesn't notice, of course.
'Never mind,' he drawls, his grin so wide it looks like he's going to split his face in half. 'I'll spare you a
thought when I'm out in the sunshine and you're in here in the dark. I'll be laughing when I do it, of course,
but still it's the thought that counts, isn't it?'
Lucius smirks at that one, but it doesn't register with me. I let my thoughts drift to the world outside for a
moment.
It's sunny out there, then. But he said 'for this time of year', so it must be well, at least September, from
what he was saying.
God, that must mean I've been here for a month? Less than that, maybe
Focus, Hermione. The here and now.
Oh yes, the here and now. Cold stone, no light, and heir pale faces, waiting for an answer to Draco's taunts
with an almost perverse expectancy.
Sadism must run in the family.
279

'My, someone's feeling particularly witty this morning,' I say. 'How long did it take you to come up with that
little jibe, Draco? All evening, was it? You mustn't blame yourself. My guess is you've always been a little
slow, if your performance at school was anything to go by.'
A ghost of a smirk crosses Lucius' lips. Draco just blanches in rage. I've hit a raw nerve with that remark. He
never could handle me beating him in class.
Draco whips his wand out of the pocket of his robes. I take an involuntary but automatic step backwards. He
smiles at that. So does Lucius.
'Oh yes, Mudblood,' Draco says. 'Unlike you, I still have my wand.'
Which wand is he referring to? My real wand, that I last saw snapping in half in his father's palm, or the
wand I used last night, that I last saw being crushed under his father's boot?
Does it matter?
'Which means I can do this.'
A burning crack of pain cuts across the back of my knees, causing them to bend involuntarily. My kneecaps
bruise as they bang onto the ground, taking the brunt of my fall.
But I didn't cry out. I somehow managed to avoid that. That's one small victory, anyway.
'Very good, Draco.' That's Lucius' voice; deeper, more refined than his son's, somehow. 'But I think perhaps
we can do better than that, hmm?'
You sick, sadistic bastard! I hate you!
'I did it exactly how you taught me-'
'No, you misunderstand me. What I mean is that if you want your revenge to prove satisfactory then you
need to do more than a simple scorching hex.'
I roll my eyes up, ignoring Draco but staring at his father with so much hatred that it would surely kill him if
thoughts could take physical form.
He watches me with a sadistic smile. He's daring me to react to his words. He's goading me into providing
him with an excuse to push me away
I gather up whatever dignity I have left and I push myself up onto my feet, lifting myself up from the crown
of my head downwards.
Lucius breathes a chuckle. Draco grins, although his eyes slide over to his father, ever so slightly, as if he
wants to know what exactly is so amusing.
He shouldn't intrude on things he doesn't understand.
Maybe I should tell him all about what his father did last night. That would wipe the smug smile off Lucius'
face, oh wouldn't it just?
But no. I couldn't tell him. I couldn't ever tell anyone. It's as if what happened last night is a secret, a dark
secret that I don't want anybody, least of all Draco sodding Malfoy, to know about.
280

Lucius has got me trapped into silence, playing along with his sick little game, and he hasn't even had to
threaten me into it.
- you have handed yourself over, given me complete power over you willinglyGod, I hate him!
'What do you notice about the way she's standing, Draco?'
Draco looks at me. 'She's standing up straight?' He voices it as a question.
'Exactly,' Lucius says with satisfaction. 'Which means?'
'She's not afraid of us?'
'Don't be a fool. Is she stupid?'
Draco smirks. 'Well, no-one says so, but-'
'An important lesson, Draco never dismiss the abilities of your opponent,' Lucius says coldly. 'I repeat is
she stupid?'
'No,' Draco replies reluctantly.
'Which means she is certain to fear us. And so why do you think she's standing up straight?'
The stupid little ferret smiles maliciously when he finally gets it. 'It's a matter of pride. She's trying to
convince us that she's not afraid of what we're going to do to her.'
'Precisely.' Lucius sneers at me. 'But all three of us know that to be a charade, I think.'
Bloody bastard, you won't let Draco think I'm scared of him!
'I'm not afraid of you,' I say quietly, but I catch sight of Lucius' raised eyebrow and I modify my words to
make them less of a lie. 'Not of your son, anyway.'
Draco's lip curls up in anger as Lucius smiles a gratified, gloating smile.
'And why not?' Draco asks almost petulantly. 'I've got a wand, and I can do magic that you can only dream
of-'
'Oh, but I do dream of it, Draco, every night,' I hiss back, losing my temper. 'I have nightmares about the sort
of magic you're talking about, your bloody father's seen to that-'
'Enough.' Lucius doesn't even raise his voice, but the warning is clear. I shut my mouth. He smirks at me and
turns to his son.
'Wouldn't it be gratifying if she could be as afraid of you as she is of me? It doesn't take much, you know.'
He smiles at me mercilessly. 'She might pride herself on being a Gryffindor, but she's just a little coward at
heart.'
I hate you. So much.

281

Draco laughs. 'Well she hasn't got Potter to protect her now, has she?' he says triumphantly. 'How does that
feel, Mudblood? All you've got left is Weasley, and even if he were here with us he would probably prove
himself to be as useless as he always does. Why don't we bring him up here, just for five minutes-'
'I told you, no.' Lucius' voice isn't raised, just steely. 'Weasley is not to be harmed when his safety is the one
thing keeping his parents under our control. To put their loyalty in jeopardy simply for your own desire for
vengeance would be pure selfishness.'
Two pink spots appear on Draco's cheeks and he turns away from his father, glaring at me as if somehow it's
my fault that his father chastised him.
'Fine,' he splutters, losing his cool. 'That's fine. We don't need him, anyway, do we Granger? Do you want to
see what I've learned since I left school? Do you want to see just how little it matters how well you did at
Hogwarts? Oh, you thought you were so special, didn't you? Everyone's favourite little Mudblood pet. None
of that matters now.' He laughs maliciously. 'I'm going to make you sorry that you ever presumed to be better
than me, you little muggle cow!'
I want to start shaking, but I stop myself. I will not be afraid of Draco Malfoy. He's just the school bully,
that's all he is. He does not scare me.
My gaze slides over Lucius, who leans against the wall as he watches us, his expression unfathomable,
before it moves back over to Draco.
'Nothing you do to me will change the fact that I beat you at school, will it?' I say quietly, forcing a shaky
smile onto my face.
Draco snarls and raises his wand, and I automatically recoil, preparing myself for what's to come...
'Wait.' Lucius raises his hand in command and walks over to the pair of us. Draco lowers his wand,
glowering at me as his father approaches me, coming closer, I realise now, than he has for the entire duration
of this visit.
He probably doesn't want his son to know just how cosy some of his visits can get.
He stands about half a metre away from me. Too close, and yet further away than he usually is.
'You might want to apologise for that little remark,' he says quietly.
God help me, I don't know why I say what I say next, but I just can't bear him behaving as if nothing has
happened, as if nothing has changed since when he first captured me, as if he's as indifferent to me now as he
was then.
I won't help him put up this charade for his son.
'Are you going to apologise for what you did last night?' I whisper.
His hand whips across my face in one of the hardest slaps he's ever given me. My head reels back and I fall
to the floor.
I can taste blood in my mouth.
He looks at me for a few moments, his jaw twitching, before he turns away from me and walks swiftly to the
other side of the room. I bring my hand up to my mouth. Warm blood runs out of my lips, over my fingers.

282

Draco watches me with a smile on his face, but it's a smile that's slightly uneasy. I don't think he heard what I
said, but he saw what his father just did to me.
And I think it's shocked him.
Have you still got the strength to follow in your father's footsteps, little boy?
Lucius looks at me with intense hatred for a moment from the other side of the room, his face out of his son's
view, before he forces his expression into one of calm.
'Cutting hexes first, I think, Draco.'
Coward. Why can't he do it himself if he wants to push me away?
You answered your own question there, Hermione.
Draco frowns at me slightly before he approaches me, his wand raised in his shaking hand.

I crawl across the ground, claw my way over the stone as the throbbing after-shock of the Cruciatus curse
twinges through me. My arms shake to carry my weight, but I've got to get away from them. I can't go
through that again, I just can't.
We've been at this for hours now, surely they can just stop!
'She's trying to get away.' That's Lucius' voice, cutting through me, causing me almost as much pain as the
Cruciatus curse itself. 'You might want to stop her.'
'I was just about to-'
'You're not making fast work of it, are you?'
'She can't exactly get far, can she?' Draco says sulkily.
'It's the principle of the matter that concerns me. She needs to learn that this meeting is on your terms, not
hers.'
God, Draco's got a lot to learn, I think irrationally, something pulls at my hair and wrenches me onto my
back, dragging me across the floor.
I look up into their identical sneering faces, slip my gaze over Draco to look at Lucius, who only watches me
for a moment before his face flickers and he turns to his son. I catch sight of Draco's wand and my eyes roll
back into my skull with remembered agony.
I curl up onto my side, shivering.
'You're doing well, Draco.' A foot tucks under my chin and rolls my head up, and I open my eyes despite
myself to see them both looking down at me as Lucius withdraws his boot from my face.
They're sneering at me, although both of them have something lurking just underneath the surface of their
distain.
Draco looks distinctly uneasy now. He almost looks frightened, despite his arrogant air.
283

Whereas Lucius still has that same old look on his face. Arrogance, anger, abhorrence.
And then that small spark of something, that something that he never had when he first captured me but that
I see on his face so often now.
I think I might be on my way to understanding what that something is.
I'm sick of trying to figure him out. I want him to tear off the Death-Eater's mask and stop pretending. I want
to scratch away at the surface and see what's underneath so that I can truly know him, even if what I see
hurts so much and causes me so much pain that I want to die.
'Look at her,' Lucius says quietly, although he himself won't look at me. 'I don't think she'd deny that she
fears you now, after what you've put her through.'
He smiles at his son, although his son's reciprocation seems a little forced.
God. Who would have thought that Draco Malfoy, the bully I've known since we were just children, would
be able to cause that much pain. Almost as much as his father.
And yet somehow nowhere near as much as his father.
My cheek stings with a burning streak of invisible flame.
'Look at me at us, Mudblood.'
I do as I'm told.
Now he's looking at me.
'Please,' I whisper. 'Just please'
His face tightens before he turns to his son. 'Perhaps one more time, Draco,' he says coldly. 'Just once more
to punish her for the audacity of asking us for anything, let alone to show mercy on a worthless Mudblood.'
Draco looks down at me, frowning. 'Don't you think'
He trails off, his cheeks turning slightly pink.
Lucius raises an eyebrow. 'Do you have something to say?' he asks quietly.
Draco shakes his head and raises his wand.
No. No!
I drag up all the strength I have left and roll to the side. The green light of the cruciatus curse misses me by
millimetres.
I push myself up onto my knees and I stare at the pair of them, my breathing harsh. Draco's eyes are wide,
incredulous trenchers. Lucius is almost smiling.
I hate him. I hate him!
'Have you had enough, Mudblood?' he asks coldly.
I take a deep breath.
284

There's one thing I can do. One thing I can use against him to make him stop. I don't want to, I don't want
Draco to know, but I'm damned if I'm going to let this go on.
'You will stop this,' I say shakily. 'Now.'
Draco laughs a disbelieving laugh, but Lucius frowns at me, his eyes flashing a warning.
'And why would I want to do that?' he asks quietly.
I steel my nerve.
I can't say anything. I don't dare to, not in front of Draco, but I can still think. He hasn't taken that away from
me yet.
I lock my gaze onto his, and I fill my brain with words as I feel his mind interweave with mine.
You will stop this, or I'll tell Draco some very interesting things about his father.
His eyes narrow into slits of rage, but I continue to scream the words in my mind.
I'll tell him all about you and his Aunt. And when I've finished with that, I'll tell him all about what you did
last night after we came back
His face freezes with absolute fury, filling my insides with ice.
'Father, what's going on?'
But quick as a flash Lucius crouches over me, planting his wand into my throat with such force that it almost
makes me gag. His free hand grips onto the front of my robes, wrenching my face up close to his.
He should be careful. He can't come too close in front of Draco.
'No, you won't,' he says whispers, so very quietly. 'Unless you want Weasley to be tortured half to death in
front of you, you will keep your filthy mouth shut.'
Damn. Damn. He could use Ron to get me to do anything.
I clamp my lips together. He's won this one.
Lucius nods, his face still white with rage as he lets go of me. But he doesn't put a safe distance between us
once again.
Draco laughs, which irritates me beyond belief. After all, he doesn't have the remotest clue about what's
reallygoing on.
Welcome to the club.
'Oh yes, you wouldn't want your precious weasel harmed would you?' The ferret sneers at me. 'Well at least
you've got each-other's company to wile away the hours.'
'Indeed, Draco.' Lucius smirks at me with pure malice. His face is still quite close to mine, although not as
close as it could be. 'Although why anyone, even scum like Wealsey, would want this ugly little throwback is
really beyond me.'
Anger pounds through me, flies through my veins like electricity.
285

How can you say that? After everything, why do you still call me ugly? It's not fair, it's not fair, you
BASTARD, if I'm so ugly then why the hell did I wake up last night to feel your fingers trailing up and down
my back, why, why, WHY? I HATE YOU!
He flinches back, sucking in his breath sharply.
'Father?'
I blink, watching Lucius, who doesn't respond to his son but turns back to me, frowning.
What's going on?
'Father,' Draco says tentatively, 'you're you're bleeding.'
Bleeding?
God, he's right. Beads of blood are seeping out of a tiny cut in the white alabaster of his cheek that definitely
wasn't there a second ago.
I gulp.
How the hell did that happen?
'What was that?' Draco asks, but Lucius still looks at me, his eyes narrowed. 'Did she have a magical
reaction or something-'
'SILENCE!' Lucius shouts suddenly, making both Draco and I jump. He watches me closely, looking deeply
into my eyes, his face pale and twisted with what looks like
Worry?
'Well I mean, it's not the end of the world, is it?' Draco says nervously. 'She must have done it before-'
'I told you to be quiet!'
He's staring at me with such intense rage that I have to stop myself from apologising for hurting him out of
pure fear.
What's Draco talking about, anyway?
Does he mean the wandless magic people used to talk about in school? The kind that made Harry blow up
his Aunt, and Neville bounce down his back garden-the kind that made him fly backwards and away from youI what?
I swear I just but it's gone, I can't
I try to grip it again, to grab hold of that sudden thought and work out what it means, but it slips away from
me like water and I can't remember what it was.
Lucius' eyes widen for a moment as they lock into my own, and yes, I was right, there's definitely worry
there now. His face contorts before he grabs me by the front of my robes, pushing his wand into my throat.
286

'You insolent little bitch,' he whispers. 'I'll teach you your place if it kills me. Crucio!'
Pain slams into me, and I spin away, fall through darkness
One thousand sounds and pictures. All alien. All familiar.
'By God, you will learn your place, by the time I am finished with you.'
What is what? I can't remember it
I can remember it. Pictures, sounds, thoughts, all crystal clear.
'Pushed into it, you say?' He walks over to me, slowly. 'Alright, Mudblood, I'll make a deal with you.'
He reaches me and he raises his hand to my cheek, brushing my hair away from my face.
'I am going to try and 'push' you into doing some wandless magic,' he says quietly. 'If a magical reaction is
provoked in you, then I shall probably end up getting hurt in some way, but I give you my full permission to
do that. Do you understand me, Muggle? I am so certain that you will be unable to perform any wandless
magic that I am giving you permission to hurt me.'
He gave me permission to do it, didn't he? But when I did, when I did
What happened when I did?
More memories cram into my mind.
'So I want control over you, do I?' he hisses. 'I want power over your body, is that what you're suggesting?'
He laughs mirthlessly before he slaps me hard across the face with the back of his hand. 'You pathetic little
bitch! Do you really think that I'd ever consider even thinking of you in that way?'
He pummels his fist into my stomach and I double over, collapsing onto the ground.
'You are filth!' His voice is harsh with rage. 'You are nothing! What right have you to say such things to me?'
I'm crying, crying in front of him again like I promised myself I would never do, screaming as he kicks out at
me again, and again
I needed him to stop, I needed it to end, but he just wouldn't, even though I begged and pleaded with him
Yet more thoughts and visions come screaming back at me.
'You are useless. Worthless. I don't need to prove to you how worthless you are if you don't know it already
then there's no helping you.'
Oh just FUCK OFF! Leave me alone leave me alone!
He wrenches my head round brutally to face him again, and he looks into my face intently for a moment
And then he slaps me again.
I can't bloody stand that bloody personal infliction of pain!
I hate him so so so much!
287

That electricity flies through me, coursing through my veins.


Focus, Hermione! Channel it!
He chuckles cruelly.
'As if I'd ever touch you,' he murmurs, 'you piece of muggle scum!'
Come on! Push it out of you! Force it through your fingers!
HATEHATEHATEHATEHATEHATEHATE!
I feel the electricity shoot out of me, through my fingertips, and suddenly he flies backwards, flies away from
me across the room, back, and back
He lands on the ground on the other side of the room, sprawled on the stone floor.
I did it! I remember. God, I remember!
The final piece of the puzzle soars into my mind, making it whole once again.
'You coward!' I whisper incredulously.
A muscle goes in his jaw.
'Believe what you like about me, Mudblood,' he says quietly. 'It is of no consequence to me.'
He raises his wand.
No!
'Obliviate!'
I swim up through darkness, clawing my way to the surface.
Air rips into my lungs in a huge, gasping breath as my eyes throw themselves open, not seeing anything
because my mind is still processing the new memories, everything slotting into place, everything making
sense, all of it
My body bucks and heaves on the ground as I take huge, rasping breaths.
'What's the matter with her?'
'If I knew, don't you think I'd do something to stop it?'
His voice. I cling onto it, let it drag me to the surface.
Things come into focus, all the blurriness is swept away as my mind clicks back into place. Lucius' face is
close to mine, his brow furrowed and his eyes flickering over my face with what is definitely fear.
'You' My voice comes out as a thread. Lucius watches me with disgusted incomprehension, but I've got to
say this, I've got to. 'You my memory I'
His eyes widen and his face loses its colour, going so pale in his rage that his skin is almost translucent.
288

'Draco.' His lips barely move as he speaks. 'Get out. Go down to the hallway, I'll meet you there.'
'But Father-'
'OUT!' Lucius shouts suddenly. With great effort I move my gaze over to Draco, who glares at the back of
his father's head before he turns and walks towards the door, throwing me the look of deepest dislike as he
leaves the room, slamming the door shut behind him.
Lucius stands up, gripping me by the arm and wrenching me to my feet. His fingers bite through my robe
and into my skin as he shakes me in his fury.
'What did you see?' he asks harshly. When I don't reply he slaps me hard across the face. 'Answer me!'
God, I'm so angry, I'm so angry! I just don't care about anything any more. How could he?
'You obliviated me!' I shout. 'You bloody coward, you obliviated me!'
He nods his head, a tiny angry smirk coming back to his lips as he tries to force his anger away.
'And if I did?' He grips my chin, bringing my face so close to him that I can see every line of fury grooved
into his face. 'In case you'd forgotten, I own you. That means I can do as I like with you, Mudblood. You
have no right to question my actions.'
I wrench my face out of his grip. 'I have every right in the world!' I yell. 'It's my memory! How dare you take
away my memory? Isn't enough for you that you've taken every aspect of my existence under control
without taking hold of my mind, too?'
He draws back his hand but I turn and run from him, hating myself for not shutting up and keeping quiet
because now I've made him angry again, I can never stop making him angry'Don't run away from me, you revolting animal!'
An invisible hook draws me back and fireworks explode and limbs snap as I slam back into the cold,
unforgiving stone wall. He steps in front of me, his face furious.
'It doesn't matter,' he says quietly. 'Wandless magic can't be controlled. You could never use it to your
advantage. One can't pick and choose what spells to perform without a wand unless you are a wizard of the
most advanced kind, and even then it's extremely difficult to conjure.'
I don't say what I'm thinking - that it doesn't matter if I never do wandless magic again, what good it'll do
me. No, what matters is that both he and I know that I am just as magical as he is. He can't ever again say to
me that I'm an incapable witch without both of us knowing it to be false.
He runs his wand down my cheek.
'Besides,' he says negligently, 'what's to stop me from doing it again? I could erase this whole day from your
memory with a flick of my wand.'
I stand stock still, not even comprehending him.
'You said once, after you killed my parents, that you'd never lied to me,' I say quietly, shaking with how
much I hurt right now. 'But you did, Lucius. You took my memory away from me, and you never told me
about it. You've lied to me every day since you did that.'
If I didn't know him as well as I do I'd say that he flinched a little at my words.
289

He flicks his wand at me, releasing me from the wall. I stumble forwards slightly and he catches me by the
arm.
He draws me up to face him, pulling me close, and suddenly there doesn't seem to be enough air in the
world. His eyes have drained it all away from me.
He he reaches out and trails his finger down my cheek, writing a blush over it.
He's looking intently into my eyes, bringing his face close, so close.
I breathe in unsteadily, but I can't hear him breathing.
He draws his fingers back from my face, clenching them into his palm as his mouth sets into a thin line.
'One day you'll go too far,' he says quietly, releasing me from his grip, 'and you don't even want to think
about what my reaction will be when you do.'
20. My Protector
'Some have won a wild delight,
By daring wilder sorrow;
Could I gain thy love to-night,
I'd hazard death to-morrow.
Could the battle-struggle earn
One kind glance from thine eye,
How this withering heart would burn,
The heady fight to try!' Charlotte Bronte, Passion

'There's no point, Ron. They'll have put silencing charms on the door-'
'Shh. I think I can hear something.'
'Even if you can, you're not going to over-hear anything that can help us.'
'Well I'm sorry if I'm not resigning myself to spending the rest of my life in this hell-hole just yet!'
I sigh and go back to scrubbing the floor as he presses his ear to the door once again, his face straining as he
listens with all his might.
I saw Lucius again today.
It was the first time I've seen him since I got my memory back. It's always been Bellatrix that's brought me
down to do my chores.
Not that I care. I've got enough to get along with, what with all the housework these bastards have got us
doing.
All except for the cooking, of course. They don't trust us with knives.
And it's not as if I miss him when I'm alone, either, because then all I'm doing is trying desperately to use
wandless magic again.
290

Not that I could ever miss him, anyway.


I hate to admit it, but I think he might have been right when he said wandless magic can't be forced. No
matter how hard I try it, it just won't come.
I grit my teeth, scraping the wet cloth against a stubborn patch of something unmentionable on the floor. I
can't give Bellatrix an excuse to punish me yet again for failing to get the room completely spotless.
I feel a stab of resentment, then. It's alright for Ron. He can afford to waste his time listening at the door.
Bellatrix won't punish him. I don't think she's allowed to. But even if she was, I know that she would choose
to punish me rather than him. And not just because I'm a Mudblood, either.
Lucius could have at least looked at me today. Could have at least acknowledged my existence, the bastard.
They seem to be holding some kind of meeting in the next room. Ron is convinced that if he just listens hard
enough at the door then he will over-hear something that might help us escape, or something that might be
useful for the Order when we do eventually escape. Because we will escape in the end, he says, or if we
don't then the Order will come and rescue us.
Sometimes I wonder how he still manages to hope. I gave up all pretence of hope the night Lucius came to
my room and told me that my parents were dead.
I take a deep breath to steady myself, grief grasping me by the heart, making me feel physically sick.
God, even a change of scenery might make things better, if only as a distraction
'Ron, you know the garden you were talking about?'
He presses his ear harder against the door, his face screwed up in concentration. 'Yeah?'
'Could you tell me about it again?'
'For God's sake, how the hell am I meant to hear anything when I've got you wittering on at me every
second?'
I press my lips together and slam my rag on the ground, scrubbing furiously.
Barely a few moments pass before I feel a hand on my shoulder.
'Hermione?'
'What?' I snap.
'I'm sorry,' he says awkwardly. 'I'm being a prat.'
An unwilling giggle escapes me as I look up at him, and he smiles sheepishly.
'It's alright, I forgive you,' I say, smiling.
'Thanks. I know I'm an idiot for listening at the door, it's just' He struggles to find words for a moment. 'I
can't believe that there's just no way out for us!'
He sits back, putting his head in his hands.
291

'And it's not as if I have anything else to think about.' He looks up at me. 'Don't get me wrong, I know it's
worse for you. At least at least Bellatrix and Dolohov leave me alone. But it's crap having no-one to talk
to. They just bring me food, take me out to the garden for exercise, and bring me down here to work.'
He sits up on his heels, his mouth thinning out. 'All I have to stop me from going mad is planning our
escape. And I'm not going to give up yet.'
I wish I could be more like him. I wish I didn't always have complete and utter hopelessness weighing down
on me. I'd do anything for the sweet hope that things might somehow get better, in the end.
If Ron has thoughts of escape to keep him sane, then what have I clinged to all this time in order to hold on
to my sanity?
Ron. He's what I've held on for. If he wasn't here then I think I would have lost my mind as soon as Lucius
locked me in the cellar and forced me to call myself Mudblood.
'Isn't there a way out through the garden?' I ask, even though I know what the answer will be.
He shakes his head. 'No. I've looked whenever I've been out there. I mean, they put a binding spell on me so
I can't get far anyway, but as far as I can tell it's definitely underground, and there's no way of getting out.'
'I suppose if there was they wouldn't risk taking you out there in the first place.' I sigh.
'Yeah.' He trails off, his eyes fixed on some middle distance.
'Can you tell me more about it?' I ask. 'I mean, you were pretty vague when you told me about it before, and
it doesn't look like I'll get to see it myself.'
It takes him a while to answer.
'It's kind of dark,' he says eventually, his words slow and faltering. 'It's like it's always night time out there.
It's really strange, because it's moonlit, but it can't be moonlit because there's no sky. The light seems to
come from from inside the place itself, if that makes sense.'
I nod, even though it doesn't.
'There are' he gestures with his hand, 'trees everywhere. The ground's covered with leaves. And there
are well, they're like ruins. You know, like the remains of old muggle abbons.'
'Do you mean abbeys?' I ask, smirking.
He grins and shakes his head, as if he's waking up from a dream.
'I'd love to go there,' I say, truthfully. 'It sounds beautiful.'
He frowns slightly. 'It is,' he says hesitantly. 'But it's weird, as well. I don't know how to explain it. The
atmosphere of the place is really odd.'
He seems unable to voice his thoughts, and his eyes smoke over for a moment. But they clear again when
they look at me.
'I'll try and get them to take you there,' he promises. 'Next time they take me down, I'll get them to take you
with me.'
292

'No, don't,' I say quickly. 'I don't want you to get yourself into trouble. Maybe Lucius will take me down if I
ask him.'
His eye twitches slightly before he picks up his cloth and slams it on the ground, scrubbing furiously.
'Ron?'
'This floor's fucking filthy. We're gonna be here forever.' He won't look at me, and his voice shakes slightly.
'Ron, I only meant that things between Lucius and I couldn't get much worse. Dolohov and Bellatrix mainly
leave you alone, so there's no point in you looking for trouble with them. If I ask Lucius then he might
punish me, but at least things can't-'
Footsteps.
Both our heads snap up.
Someone's coming. Not from the room where Lucius is, but from behind the other door.
We look at each other, nod, and then hurriedly start scrubbing at the floor.
The door creaks open, and I look up as far as I can without moving my head.
Draco steps into the room, a cold, malicious little smirk on his lips.
My stomach sinks down to my toes. What the hell does he want?
'Well, well, look what we have here.' He comes into the room, kicking the door shut behind him.
Ron's head twitches up, his cheeks going blotchy when he sees who it is. 'You!' he splutters. 'What are you
doing here?'
Draco's eyes are glittering slits of malice. 'Didn't your little Mudblood friend tell you I was here?' he drawls.
Run turns to me with an accusatory look. 'Why didn't you tell me?'
'I didn't want to worry you. Besides, I didn't know he was actually staying here-'
'I wasn't, Granger, but I am now.' Draco grins. 'I asked my father if I could, and he said he didn't see the harm
in it. So you'd better get that bushy head of yours down and work hard, hadn't you?'
Ron makes a sudden movement, but I grip onto his arm.
'Don't rise,' I mutter under my breath, 'it's what he wants, just don't rise.'
Draco has pulled his wand out of his robes and he's pointing it at Ron. His face is flushed and his grin shakes
on his lips.
'Yes, that's right,' he says a little breathlessly. 'You need to do as I say now, Weasley. And god knows, it's
been a long time coming. Now clean the floor.'
And ugly flush spreads across Ron's face. I reach across and gently squeeze his hand.
'Just ignore him, Ron. Come on.'
293

He shakes my hand away in his temper. He scrubs at the floor, his lips working around silent words of fury.
Draco laughs maliciously as he puts his wand away. 'What are you so upset about?' he drawls. 'I would have
thought that vermin like your family should be used to house-work. I mean, it's not as if you could have
afforded any house elves, is it?'
Ron doesn't look up from the floor, though his face is almost maroon with suppressed rage. 'Sod off, Malfoy.'
'You might want to watch your language. You are, after all, in the presence of your betters.'
Ron lifts his head to speak but I grip at his arm, digging my fingers in as a warning. He presses his lips
together and goes back to washing the floor.
Draco looks almost disappointed at Ron's lack of reaction. I shake my head at him before I join Ron in his
work.
A few moments of silence pass until Draco speaks again.
'Nice and obedient aren't you, Weasley?' He spits out his words with malice. 'I wonder, is your little sister as
obedient as you are?'
Bingo.
Ron freezes and looks up just as I do into Draco's sneering face, alight with triumph now that he's succeeded
in provoking Ron into a reaction.
'What do you mean?' Ron asks stiffly.
Draco grins. 'Oh come on, I think you know what I mean.' He stretches out his hands exaggeratedly, looking
at his nails. 'Little Ginny's done a lot of growing up these past few years, and don't think I haven't noticed it-'
'Don't' Ron can barely get his words out, and he shoves my hand away when I put it on his arm. 'Don't you
dare go near my sister!'
The miserable little bastard just laughs in reply. 'And what are you going to do about it if I do? Your family
have to do exactly as we say if they want you to stay alive. And that includes your pretty little sister-'
Ron moves so quickly and so suddenly that I'm not even aware of it until I see his bucket flying through the
air, smacking the wall behind Draco, drenching him with water.
'Ron, NO!'
But he's already running, and before I can even get to my feet he's thrown his fist right into Draco's face.
'Ron, stop it!'
But he grabs Draco by the front of his robes and hits him again, and the pair of them are fighting, properly
fighting, and Ron's hitting Draco and Draco's hitting Ron, and I don't know why Draco isn't using his wand,
but I'm so glad he hasn't even thought about it because if he did Ron wouldn't stand a chance.
'Don't-' Smack. 'Ever-' Slam. 'Not my sister, you-'
'What is going on?'
294

I spin around to see Lucius standing in the now open doorway, looking only at me, as if he expects me to
answer his question.
Draco and Ron both ignore him. Or don't hear him. They just continue to hit each other with all their
strength, kicking, yelling, punching.
Lucius moves his gaze onto the pair of them, his lip curling up in exasperation. 'Help me with this pair of
idiots, will you?'
For a bizarre moment I think he's talking to me, but then he strides into the room and Bellatrix and Dolohov
follow him in, shutting the door behind them on the intrigued faces of the remaining Death-Eaters in the
adjoining room.
Lucius brings out his wand, and suddenly Draco and Ron are thrown away from each other and slammed
onto the ground. They both groan as they try to shift themselves from the floor.
Lucius turns to me, one eyebrow raised. 'Would you care to tell me what's going on?'
I just stare at him, open mouthed.
Draco drags himself up from the ground, a beautiful bruise blossoming over his right eye. 'He threw his
bucket of water at me!' he says furiously. 'The stupid bastard just went for me. I didn't do anything to
provoke him, father-'
'That's bullshit and you know it, Malfoy!' Ron shouts, dragging himself up too. There's a stream of blood
coming from his mouth.
'It's true, Ron's not lying.' Lucius' gaze slides back onto me as I speak up. 'He threatened he said that he
was going to blackmail Ginny into'
I trail off, feeling myself blush. I can't talk to Lucius about that. It just puts so many unspoken things into the
air.
But Lucius' mouth twitches into what looks like a smirk. 'Is that all?' He turns to his son. 'Draco, you should
learn to take better control of your temper. If some idiot chooses to attack you, then that's exactly what your
wand is for.'
A flush passes over Draco's face. Lucius ignores it and turns back to the door.
'Take Weasley back to his room, Antonin,' he throws over his shoulder. 'The Mudblood can finish cleaning
this room by herself, I think-'
'Wait.' Bellatrix helps Draco to his feet, stroking his arm soothingly while looking at Lucius. 'Your son has
been assaulted, Lucius. By a filthy blood traitor, no less. Surely that calls for punishment.'
Lucius turns back to her impatiently. 'Indeed, in normal circumstances it would. But the boy cannot be
harmed, you know that.'
'Oh, I know that.' Bellatrix releases Draco's arm and walks over to me as she speaks. 'Believe me, I know
that. But there's more than one way we can punish the boy.'
She grips onto my arm.
Oh, god. I know that I should be grateful, because at least this way she isn't hurting Ron, but oh god, I'm
just so sick of it all!
295

Lucius looks at me, his face strangely tight.


'NO!' Ron begins to yell, but Dolohov points his wand at him and magically lifts him into the air, slamming
him against the wall and keeping him there with invisible bonds.
'DON'T TOUCH HER, YOU BASTARDS, JUST LEAVE HER ALONE!'
'Silencio!'
Dolohov's mutter cuts Ron's yells off.
Bellatrix raises her eyebrows at Lucius, her face alight with challenge. He frowns at her, then turns to Draco,
who's watching the scene almost hungrily.
'You, out,' Lucius says shortly.
Draco turns indignantly to his father. 'Why can't I stay here? I want to see-'
'Are you questioning me?'
Draco's mouth closes like a trap and he shakes his head sullenly. He turns and storms out of the room.
'You too,' Lucius says to Dolohov, whose face twists with rage.
'I beg your pardon?'
'Out.' Lucius says threateningly. 'You are not needed here. The boy is immobile and the girl is unable to
escape. Go back next door and attend to our guests.'
'And why should I do as you say?' Dolohov's voice rises with rage.
Lucius regards him with a superior sneer. 'Because my standing outstrips your own, Antonin, as well you
know.'
Dolohov glares at him murderously.
'No, I'm staying here.' Spit flies from his mouth as he speaks. 'I want to see if you can bear to bring yourself
to harm your precious little Mudblood, seeing as you couldn't bear to let her go the other night.'
Lucius' fingers tighten around his wand although he doesn't raise it yet. 'I don't need to justify myself to
scum like you,' he says quietly.
Dolohov blanches in rage and raises his wand.
'Oh get out, Antonin!' Bellatrix yells impatiently. 'This does not concern you. Go.'
Dolohov turns red with fury at the seeming loss of his ally, and with one last filthy look at Lucius he storms
from the room, slamming the door shut behind him with such force that it shakes in it's doorframe.
Lucius and Bellatrix don't even watch him leave.
A long silence spreads out as Bellatrix's fingernails rip into my skin.
'This is unnecessary,' Lucius says coolly. 'The boy knows not to misbehave again.'
296

'Reluctant to hurt her, Lucius?' Bellatrix sneers at him. 'You do surprise me.'
'Don't be ridiculous,' he snaps. 'The girl means nothing to me.'
'Then prove it!' she counters triumphantly. She flicks her wand in the air and catches a small knife in her
hand, handing it over to Lucius before gripping me by the waist, holding one arm behind my back and the
other out in front of me. 'Cut her.'
Ron struggles frantically against the bonds holding him to the wall. His mouth opens and closes as he
screams at them silently.
My gaze moves back up to Lucius, who watches me with a frozen face. Someone who didn't know him
would think that he was indifferent to the situation. Of course, someone who didn't know him wouldn't think
to look into his eyes.
I don't know why he cares. When he last saw me he let his bloody son torture me for hours. He himself cast
the cruciatus curse that threw me into unconsciousness and brought my memory back to me. Why does he
care now?
Bellatrix's breathing is heavy on my cheek.
'If the girl means nothing to you, then prove it!' She rolls the sleeve of my robe up to expose my arm. 'Cut
her.'
I look up at Lucius, begging him silently. His gaze meets mine, full of things I don't think even he
understands.
Those eyes are bottomless. They're the one window to his true self. He keeps everything about him so calm,
so composed almost all of the time. Those cold, bottomless eyes are the only things that ever, ever give me
an idea of what he's really thinking. And I barely ever see them blank and empty, like I used to.
He presses his lips together firmly and he brings the knife to my arm. His face remains completely immobile
as I mouth one tiny little word.
'Please.'
A muscle goes in his jaw, and there's a sharp, searing pain in my arm. I look down. His fingers press the
knife down into my skin, opening it, bringing blood up to the surface, and I don't make a single sound. I just
move my gaze up again, and I look into his eyes and he looks into mine, the pair of us, as always, united by
pain.

I pull myself out of the bath, wincing as the new wound on my arm threatens to open up again. I unwind the
now soaked and useless bandage from it, looking at the deep, raw cut that isn't even on its way to healing
yet. The white, ragged edges of it turn red as even now, hours and hours later, new droplets of blood rise to
the surface of it.
No wonder he wouldn't even look at me as he brought me to my room after he'd done it.
He did bandage it up for me, though.
I haven't used the healing lotion, going against his muttered suggestion as he left. And I won't, ever. I want
this cut to scar. Perhaps it might compensate for what I'm feeling inside.
297

I throw the bandage aside before pulling a towel down from the rail and wrapping it around myself. Picking
up my lone, lit candle from the bathroom floor, I walk through to my bedroom and place it on my bedside
table. Its dull, tiny light creates horrible shadows around my room, but any light is better than no light at all.
I pull on a plain white sleeveless robe. It's what I sleep in these days. It's too long to feel even remotely
comfortable in, but I'm damned if I'm going to wear that white shirt I used to wear to sleep ever again.
I pick up the comb from my dressing table and pull it through my soaking wet hair. I suck in my breath as it
pulls and tugs at the tangles, but I'm not going to complain about it. Any pain I inflict on myself is some
measure of control I have over my body, over my own being.
The door bangs open behind me.
I spin around, the comb slipping from my fingers and dropping to the floor with a clatter.
Dolohov steps into the room, slamming the door shut behind him. His face is hard and flinty with rage as he
stares at me.
A long silence spreads out as I shake under his horrible gaze, feeling my skin crawl with cockroaches.
Say something. Get him talking.
'What do you want?' I ask shakily. Stupid bloody question, but what else can I say?
He laughs mirthlessly, his twisted face hard as he rakes his eyes over me.
'You know what I want.' He starts to stride over towards me. I swallow down the bile that rises in my throat.
'Get out!' I scramble across the room desperately but he's too fast for me. He grabs me by the waist and starts
to drag me towards my bed. I scream furiously in absolute terror, flailing my arms and legs about as he
wrenches me across the room. I scratch at his arms, but he won't let go, he's just too strong
And so I scream the only name I think of.
'Lucius! LUCIUS!'
He stops dragging me but he keeps his vice-like grip around my waist, clamping a hand over my mouth,
cutting my screams off as he holds me still for a moment.
'What do you need? Hmm?' His breath is wet and hot on my cheek. 'What is it you want him for?'
He throws me down to the ground. I fall on my front and I try to claw myself away from him but he grips at
me, holding my legs down with his knees. I try to reach round my back to hit him but my shoulders burn
with the pain of the angle of them. He laughs as he uses one hand to pin my wrists above my head and the
other to push my head into the ground. Tears of pure fear roll down my face as my cheek presses painfully
into the cold floor.
I'm almost paralysed with fear, but I force myself to speak.
'He'll kill you!' I scream desperately. 'He'll kill you as soon as I tell him-'
He grips me by the hair and wrenches my head up, whispering harshly into my ear. 'Oh yes, your almighty
protector. Tell me, I'm curious - what exactly is going on between you and my friend Lucius? Because I
know that he hasn't fucked you yet, unless things have developed since I last looked into that penseive of
his.'
298

'How do you know about that penseive?' I ask shakily.


He laughs a wild, mad laugh. 'You stupid bitch. Did you never wonder how it came to be in your room in the
first place?'
'That was you?'
He laughs again and slams my head down on the floor. I begin to sob as he starts to wrench down the top of
my robe.
'And don't even think about trying to call for him,' he hisses. 'He can't hear you. This is a big house, and
when I left him he was at the other side of it. But when he comes up I'll make sure that he know that I've had
his precious little Mudblood before he has.'
I tense my whole body up, trying so hard to force some magic out of me, but it feels like I'm pushing at a
solid brick wall. Nothing will come, nothing will help me.
'Well do it then, you sick fuck!' I scream. 'But I'll tell him about it, and then he'll kill you. Maybe he'll even
let me watch. And don't think I won't laugh-'
'SHUT UP!' he shouts, gripping me by the hair, almost wrenching it from my head. 'Do you think your
laughter means anything to me? I'm well used to ridicule. And now, Lucius gives a Mudblood an excuse to
mock me. Believe me, I'll show you just what true humiliation can be!'
'Impedimenta!'
The weight of him leaves me and I can breathe again, I'm free
I spin over onto my back to see him fly away from me and smack into the wall behind him, crumpling down
onto the ground.
I look at the door as I try to get my breath back, but I don't need to see him to know who it is. I knew as soon
as I heard the incantation.
I don't know whether I've ever seen Lucius as angry as he looks now. Ever. His face is so contorted with
white-hot fury that he barely looks human anymore.
He strides over to me and pulls me up to my feet, roughly grabbing me by the shoulders and shaking me
hard as he looks into my eyes.
'What did he do?' he asks, his voice harsh. 'What did he do to you?'
'Nothing,' I gasp. 'Nothing. Thank-you, I-'
Don't thank him!
What else can I do?
We're snapped out of our eye contact when Dolohov groans as he pulls himself up from the ground.
Before I can register what's going on Lucius grips my hand in his and pulls me behind him.
Dolohov points his wand at us, laughing. 'Oh, very pretty,' he spits. 'If only the Dark Lord could see you
now, Lucius. If only Narcissa could see you now. Who would have ever thought that they'd see the day
Lucius Malfoy would play the knight in shining armour to one of the filthy Mudbloods he so despises?'
299

'You will not touch her again,' Lucius says quietly, furiously.
'And let me guess why? Because I'm a pure blood, and a Mudblood cannot be touched, is that what you're
going to say?' He throws back his head and laughs again, quite deranged. 'You're such a hypocrite. You can't
even be honest with yourself. Crucio!'
'Protego!' Dolohov's spell rebounds away from us, and his face twists with rage.
'Good god, it's so pathetic!' he says, looking at me. 'Do you know what he's done to people like you before
now? I've seen him torture and murder countess muggles just for sport. He uses them as practice for the dark
arts! Do you remember the Rookwood case, Lucius? Do you?'
'What does it matter, Antonin?' Lucius' voice shakes with fury.
Dolohov smiles. 'A muggle she may have been, but Rookwood loved her,' her says, his eyes gleaming. 'You
certainly didn't have to do what you did-'
'He understood, when I explained it to him,' Lucius says quietly.
'Ah, yes, the matter of the child. It's amazing how you can turn your prejudices around now, when in the notso-distant past they allowed you to casually murder a pregnant muggle rather than allow any more halfblood brats populate the earth.'
Lucius' hand tightens around mine, as if he senses the horror that streaks through me, slashes though me.
'Why else do you think I am here to stop you?' His voice struggles to keep calm. 'I am here to prevent such
an incident from occurring again.'
Dolohov laughs again. 'Do you really think I don't know what's going on?' he shouts. 'You came here for her,
and only for her. Lucius Malfoy's little Mudblood toy-'
'SILENCE!' Lucius shouts suddenly. 'You will not accuse me of such things out of no more than sheer
jealousy-'
'So why did you come up here tonight then?' Dolohov asks triumphantly. 'Why did you come here if not for
her? I won't believe that you haven't even considered it before. I mean, look at her.'
Lucius doesn't look at me, but his grip on my hand tightens as Dolohov runs his eyes over me hungrily.
'So innocent,' he says quietly. 'So pure. Not only that, but she's the one thing we're forbidden to have. It
must be so tantalising for you, to know that she's sleeping, quite defenceless, in the room next to you. I
wonder how you would have reacted if I would have managed to get my hands on her before you did-'
Lucius throws me to the side of him. I fling into the wall, tripping over my robe and falling to the ground,
and before I've even hit the floor Lucius shoots a spell at Dolohov.
The pair of them start to duel; their wands a blur as red, green, purple and blue lights fly between, streaking
through the air.
I crawl out of their way and I crouch in the corner, shaking and huddling in on myself as I watch the pair of
them duck and doge around each other's spells.
I will myself not to want Lucius to win, wishing more than anything that I could hope that a jet of green light
will hit him and take his life away.
300

But I can't hope for that. If he dies, then I'm left here with Dolohov. Surely Lucius is the lesser of two evils?
Right. Keep telling yourself that.
I crawl along the floor around the outside of the room, unseen by either of them. All they can see at this
moment is each other and the spells that fly around the room. I claw my way along until I'm crouched right
behind Dolohov, watching Lucius fighting.
I look at the intense fury and concentration on his face as his wand slashes, flicks and soars through the air,
sending out multi-coloured lights at hundreds of miles per hour. And it's all for me. He came here tonight and
he rescued me and now he's fighting someone who used to be his friend, for me, for me, oh, he'd do anything
for me.
It's enough. I know what I have to do.
I leap up from the ground and I run forwards, throwing my arms around Dolohov's neck, using all of my
weight and all of my strength to pull him backwards, to get him away from Lucius. He struggles, lashing out
and wrenching his body round, but I somehow manage to hold firm, my body being thrown all over the
place, but I can't let go, I can't let him win, I can't I can't I can't
'Avada Kedavra!'
The green light flies towards us, making my hair stand on end.
My eyes snap shut.
Oh god, oh god.
I fall backwards, Dolohov coming with me, both of us slamming to the ground
His weight crushes down on top of me. Every bone and muscle in my body screams in protest.
I open my eyes.
Still alive.
I push Dolohov off of me with great effort and I scramble out from underneath him. Where's Lucius? I need
to see himYes, he's alive, too. He's looking down at Dolohov, his face very pale, his wand still tight in his hand.
I follow his gaze.
Dolohov lies sprawled on the ground, his eyes open and glassy.
He's dead.
21. Our Secret
''I was on the way to, at least, social salvation till I saw you again!' he said, freakishly shaking her as if she
were a child. 'And why then have you tempted me? I was firm as a man could be till I saw those eyes and
that mouth again - surely there never was such a maddening mouth since Eve's!' His voice sank, and a hot
archness shot from his own black eyes. 'You temptress, Tess; you dear damned witch of Babylon--I could not
resist you as soon as I met you again.'' Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles
301

Alert Take cover. This is not a drill. Repeat this is not a drill.

Oh God.
Oh God!
I start to scream, bringing my hands up to my mouth and screaming through my fingers as I look down at the
silent, inanimate, dead person body - object lying on the floor.
Oh god, oh god, ohmygodohmygodohmygodHands. They land on my shoulders and spin me round, and I catch a glimpse of Lucius' furious face before
his open palm flies across my face in a hard, powerful slap, once, twice, again and again.
'Shut up, you stupid Mudblood!' he hisses harshly. 'Just shut up and calm down!'
But I can't calm down. The reality of what we've done is crashing down on me in waves. I sputter words out
in an attempt to make sense of it all.
'We killed him!' I scream, terror crushing my lungs, stopping my breath. 'We killed him! We're murderers!'
He throws his hand across my face in another slap before grabbing me by the shoulders, wrenching me up so
I'm face to face with him as he shakes me. His face is white and harsh with fury and the same terror as I feel
pulsing through my own veins right now.
'You didn't kill him I did!' he whispers. 'And it was his own fault. He should not have come here tonight.
He knew that it was forbidden.'
'But I helped you!' I start to sob out of the knowledge of what we've done. Killer killer killer. 'I made him
unable to defend himself-'
'Would you rather that he had had his way?' he asks harshly, shaking me with every word. 'Would you rather
that I had died in his stead, leaving you at his mercy?'
I gulp, and I shake my head. 'No.'
He nods, before letting go of me and striding over to the body and looking down at it, his face bloodless with
definite fear. I've never seen him look as pale as he does now.
'We must act quickly,' he mutters before he turns to leave, walking towards the door. 'Wait here. I shall be
back shortly.'
'What?' I yelp. 'Where are you going?'
'I need to go and see if there's any chance that my son or my sister-in-law heard what just happened.'
'No, wait!' I say desperately. 'Don't leave me here alone with with him!'
He turns to me. 'Don't be such a child.' Every word drips with disdain. 'A dead body cannot harm you unless
it has been transformed into an Inferi. There is nothing to fear from him now. Just wait here for me to return,
and be sure not to make a sound until I do.'
He strides out of the door and shuts it quietly, locking it behind him.
302

I sit very still, hugging my knees to my chest. But there's no comfort to be had from it, besides, killers don't
deserve comfort, do they?
I stare at the body on the floor, not taking my eyes off it for a second, terrified that that oh, I don't know.
His eyes are still open.
They stare at me. Open, glassy, wide. Accusing. They watch me, blaming me for killing him. I don't know
whether it's just my mind playing tricks on me but he seems to be almost grinning. I know that it's just my
terrified mind twisting things, but I could swear that he's laughing at me, relishing the knowledge that he
died with that he was right about me and Lucius all along.
I can't stand it. I can't keep staring into those eyes.
But I don't want to look away from the body, either. I can't take my eyes off it, not for a moment.
I crawl over to the body, my shaking limbs barely able to support me. As I reach out to it I freeze, unable to
touch it. I know it's stupid and it's only a body, but I can't I can't touch it, not when I
Not when I killed him.
It was self defence. Besides, it wasn't you who cursed him.
But I held him back. I made him utterly defenceless to Lucius' attack.
So would you have preferred Lucius to have died instead?
No!
I thought you said once that your greatest wish was to see him die.
But but I
I'm not going to start talking to myself, I refuse. I've still got my own mind, I hope.
I force myself to reach out and close Dolohov's open eyes. His skin is still warm, which is better than the
icy-cold I was expecting.
I slide his eyelids down over his glassy, sightless eyes, shielding myself from his accusing gaze, before I
back away from him, kicking myself back across the floor.
But