(A/N - okay, I'm back! sorry this update took so long, but it was actually updated like two days ago, but it got rejected coz I'd used symbols to space it out which apparently the don't like, according to the email, and the nice mods I asked on the forum. [So for the mods who read this, if I'm still doing it wrong, I'm very sorry, and please help me!] Anyway, thanks to all of my reviewers, for all of my fics, you really keep me going! *cheesy grin* And a whole lot of names are becoming really really familiar to me now - I look for you guys! Anyway, this chapter is quite dark, the darkest yet, and I think the next will get even darker. But anyway, enjoy!)
DISCLAIMER - I own nothing. Although in this chapter, that's probably a good thing...
She felt the heat rising in her body, as though she was on fire from the inside out. The sharp claws were once again tearing at her organs, trying to rip her heart out through her ribcage. She heard herself shrieking, and could focus on nothing but the figure in front of her, his manic grin plastered on her memory. Her insides were twisting violently, swelling and contracting, pulling in every direction, as though ready to explode. Her breathing was erratic, to say the least, and as Lucius twisted his wand, she was sure her heart was actually about to burst into flames. The pain was excruciating, and she felt her muscles stiffen, then relax repeatedly, as though she was having a seizure. And still, her tortured wails bounced off the surrounding tree trunks, up into the midnight sky. She didn’t know how much longer she’d be able to hold on, to force herself to stay alive. She was vaguely aware of Ginny and Ron howling her name, but their cries, as all other sounds, soon faded into an empty silence. And then, she felt the pain melting away, as she slipped out of conciousness, and into the dark abyss.
‘Oh holy crap…’
Hermione woke with a throbbing headache, and a throbbing everything else. She reached out an arm, in search of her bedside clock, but instead she found solid stone.
‘What the- ?’ She sat bolt upright and opened her eyes, only to shut them tight again immediately, the light making her head feel as though it were about to explode. Slowly, she opened them a crack, then slightly wider, then slightly wider again, until she could take in her surroundings, and the horrific night before came screaming back to her. She was lying on a stone floor, in a small room, no more than eight feet in diameter. Her t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms were torn, singed, and caked in what looked like a mixture of mud and blood. Pulling herself up stiffly from her sitting position on the floor, she groaned as pain shot through every one of her limbs. God, that bloody curse is no joke… she thought as she reached the wooden door, and looked out of the barred window. To her disappointment, she found nothing but a stone corridor, much like that of the Hogwarts’ dungeons. But this was definitely not Hogwarts. Suddenly, a thought hit her, and she began frantically searching her pockets for her wand, but it wasn’t there. Well, there’s a surprise… she thought bitterly.
‘They what?!’ A sudden bellow in the corridor startled her, and she leaned closer to the window to listen to what was unmistakably the voice of Lucius Malfoy.
‘They got her.’ The voice that responded had to belong to a Goyle.
‘Now, would you care to explain to me exactly how this happened?’ Hermione could almost see the expression on Lucius’ face as he said this.
There was a moment’s silence before Goyle spoke again, ‘Well, a group of them stormed the house where we were holding her. We’re lucky to have got out alive!’
‘I don’t care whether you got out alive, you idiot!’ Lucius growled, ‘I wanted the woman! She was the key to getting the girl to do what I need. But no, your stupidity has let her mother slip through my fingers.’
Hermione’s heart leapt, and for a split second, she forgot all about her pain. Her mother was free! So that’s where the rest of the Order got to? I wonder why Dumbledore didn’t tell us? And why the hell did he let us go to the forest?
She was broken from her thoughts as Lucius continued, ‘Well, at least I got the satisfaction of killing someone last night. Although, one more mistake like that Goyle, and I might be getting some satisfaction from killing you. Is that understood?’
Hermione didn’t hear his reply, she was too busy trying to comprehend what Lucius had just said. Who had he killed? Which one of her friends was it? Her mind flashed back to Fred, lying in a crumpled heap before her. But before she could think this through fully, the door swung open, revealing a tall smirking blonde man.
‘Well well Mudblood, welcome to the land of the living.’
‘Where am I?’ she asked wearily.
‘In one of my many abodes.’ He answered simply.
‘And my friends? Draco?’
Lucius grinned, ‘Draco is here also. You will be seeing him in only a few minutes. As for your friends, they are okay. Well, most of them anyway.’
Hermione’s eyes narrowed, ‘What exactly do you plan on doing with me?’
‘You’ll find out everything in good time. Now, follow me.’ Lucius swept out of the room, but Hermione didn’t move.
The older man stopped walking and turned slowly, ‘Did you just say no?’
‘Yeah, there is no way in hell I’m just going to get up and follow you.’ Hermione crossed her arms over her chest and glared at him.
‘Miss Granger, I will remind you that you are securely trapped inside a house filled with death eaters. I really don’t think irritating me is the best idea right now.’
‘And I, Mr Malfoy, will remind you that I and my friends brought the Dark Lord Voldemort crumbling to his knees, and then destroyed him. I really don’t think pissing me off is the best idea right now.’ She raised an eyebrow and smirked.
He smirked in return, ‘Fine. Have it your way. I guess I can just go ahead and kill Draco and the redhead.’ He began to wander up the hallway.
‘Wait!’ Hermione tried to run after him, but stumbled, her body still weak.
‘I thought you might have a change of heart once you heard that…’
‘Where is Draco? Which redhead?’ she panted, leaning against the stone wall.
Lucius grinned, ‘Draco is here, in this house. And as for the redhead, I have no idea. One of the bloodtraitor Weasels.’
Hermione was silent, her eyes focused on the stone floor tiles. He captured one of them, and it’s all my fault.
‘Now, I’ll ask once more, follow me.’ It wasn’t so much a question as a command. He strode off up the corridor, Hermione silently trailing behind him.
They walked for well over ten minutes before Lucius began to slow his pace. God, how big is this place? I’ll never be able to escape from here, I’ll just get lost. It was then she noticed that Lucius had stopped in front of a large wooden door, flanked by two death eaters. There were no windows in this corridor, and they appeared to be in the basement of the building. Nodding to the two goons, Lucius pushed open the door, revealing a room basically the same as that which Hermione had awoken in, except much larger. There were no windows, instead it was lit only by a few wall torches, the walls were cold grey stone, and there was no furniture in the room, except for a single chair in the middle, upon which sat –
Hermione ran over to the twin’s side, and gently cupped his chin with her palm. He was bound to the chair by ropes, but Hermione didn’t make a move to untie them; Lucius was standing only a few metres away, his wand gripped firmly in his hand.
‘Who – wha- go away – I’m not telling you anything…’ Fred muttered, his eyes closed. His face was beaten and bloody, his clothes torn and his body clearly bruised. Hermione flinched, but gently ran her finger along his cheekbone.
‘Fred, it’s me. Hermione.’
His eyes flickered open, and met hers. ‘Hermione?’
‘Yeah, I’m here now,’ she gently wrapped her arms around her friend’s shoulders and hugged him tight, ‘What happened?’
Fred’s eyes glanced briefly at Lucius, who stood watching the pair with an evil grin on his face, ‘I wouldn’t tell him. I won’t. He can’t make me.’
Hermione nodded in understanding; Lucius had obviously tortured Fred to find out information on the Order. She let go of him, and looked him in the eye once more. ‘What about everyone else? Did they get away? Are they okay?’
A part of her was desperate for Fred to say they were all fine, that what she had overheard Lucius saying was not what she had thought. But as a tear rolled slowly down Fred’s cheek, her heart sank, ‘R- R- R-‘
‘Ron.’ She finished for him.
Fred nodded, ‘He’s dead.’
Hermione’s body stiffened. She felt as though she had just been hit by a hippogriff at full speed. Ron? Dead? He can’t be. Not Ron. What am I going to do without him? I – I – no, Hermione. You will not focus on this right now. You have to get yourself and Fred out of this hellhole. At least take one son home alive to Molly. She turned to face Lucius. He was casually examining his fingernails, as though he had not a care in the world. ‘This is really touching, but perhaps we can get back to business.’
‘Business? Is that what you call it? Killing innocent seventeen year old kids is business?’ Hermione’s voice was a growl.
Luicus merely laughed, ‘What’s done is done. No need to cry over spilt milk.’
Hermione balled her fists by her sides. There was no point arguing with Lucius over this, she knew that. The day that arrogant git felt remorse was the day Harry skipped hand in hand through a field of daisies with Voldemort. The anger in her was reaching boiling point, but she forced herself to keep a calm composure.
‘Where is Draco?’
Lucius didn’t answer, but merely smirked and pulled open the wooden door. Standing outside it, was a tall death eater – Goyle, if Hermione wasn’t mistaken – holding something limp in his arms. He walked into the room, dragging the limp figure and dropping it carelessly on the floor. Hermione gasped as she caught a glimpse of white blonde hair.
‘Draco! Oh my god! Are you okay?’ She skidded onto her knees beside him, lifting his head gently into her lap.
‘He’s unconscious, Granger,’ Lucius spat.
She raised her eyes to glare at him, ‘What did you do?’
‘I told you before, it’s only a hex. It’ll wear off soon enough. For the meantime, however,’ at this, Lucius waved his hand lazily at another chair and Goyle hauled Draco over to it, ‘I suggest we tie him up, in case he awakens sooner than anticipated.’
When Goyle stood up again, Hermione got a clear look at his face, and saw him sporting a swollen lip and gashed cheek. Hermione thought back to his son’s similar wounds, and smirked.
‘What are you laughing at? That little one was a feisty bugger.’ He snarled, before stalking out of the room.
‘Ginny…’ Fred murmured behind her, ‘She’s okay…’
‘I hope so.’ Hermione stated, pulling herself over to sit by Fred’s feet. Her bones were still aching, and her muscles seemed to tear in two every time she moved. ‘Well, Malfoy. What exactly do you propose to do with us?’
‘Well, I don’t need much from Draco. Just some of his blood. And you, Miss Granger, are going to perform a little spell for me.’ He stated as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, ‘Nothing big. It’ll just draw all the magics in the world into me, making me all powerful.’
Hermione climbed to her feet, never once taking her eyes off of Lucius, ‘And if I refuse? You can’t use my mother against me now. I know she’s free,’ She laughed at Lucius’ expression, ‘I heard you talking to your goons outside my door earlier.’
Lucius chuckled softly, ‘I don’t believe I said I needed the bloodtraitor here for anything.’ He motioned to Fred, whose eyes opened in fear, ‘I was saving him to use as insurance, but if you’re certain you’re not going to do it, I guess I can just finish him off now.’ Lucius raised his wand so it was pointed at Fred’s heart.
‘No!’ Hermione dove in front of him.
‘Ah, de ja vou.’ Lucius remarked.
Hermione felt hands weakly grasping her t-shirt from behind, ‘No, Herm, d- d- don’t let h- him use me ag- against you.’
She took a step back, so she was in line with Fred, allowing her to see both him and Lucius at the same time. ‘Fred, don’t be daft! I’m not about to let him hurt you any more because of me!’
‘No, I mean it, Herm. You can’t l- let him g- gain that sort of power. He’ll k- kill us all anyway.’ Fred stuttered, breathing deeply. Hermione glanced down at him, taking in his beaten state; she wouldn’t be surprised if one or more ribs were broken. He needed to get to St Mungo’s. Soon.
She gently held Fred’s hand in hers, and ran an anxious hand through her hair, ‘And if I do what you ask?’
‘I want your word first.’
‘Don’t do it, Herm. You know you can’t trust him. Don’t do it again.’ Fred pleaded with her, his hand tensing around hers, ‘He’s a worthless old bastard.’
‘I’d bite your tongue if I was you, boy.’ Lucius growled, raising an eyebrow.
Fred just narrowed his eyes, ‘Bite me.’
Lucius looked livid, but just as he was about to lunge for Fred, Hermione lunging for the older wizard at the same time, they were interrupted buy a voice from the other chair.
‘What the fuck is going on here!’
Hermione spun to see Draco awake in his chair, but as she did so, she momentarily took her attention off Lucius. This, it seemed, was enough, and she felt something hard hit the back of her head, then firm hands gripped her wrists and ankles, and she looked up to see two death eaters dragging her kicking and screaming across the room.
(A/N - mwa ha. mwa ha ha. mwa ha ha hahahahahaha! okay, please leave me review! [I fully expect a couple of flames for this one, but lets keep them civilised people, no death threats please!] Anyway, I know many of you are gesturing towards your screen with a central finger in the hope I will somehow feel it, but I promise you, keep reading and you'll see what I've got planned! Luv ya all, Toni x)