"You may have bested everyone in your class, Granger, but you’ll never rise above me," Snape growled.
"Are you willing to bet your life on it?" retorted Hermione savagely.
Snape threw a spell at her and she easily deflected it. After five repetitive minutes she was growing weary. No matter how much she didn’t want to admit it, Snape was a tough opponent. But she had to keep going; Harry was fighting Voldemort and the only thing that was stopping Snape was her.
Ron could have helped, but he was busy holding his own against Lucius Malfoy.
"Sectumsempra," cried Hermione.
Severus Snape dodged the spell by not even an inch. It skimmed that top of his head.
"You’ll pay for that," he snapped. "Crucio "
Hermione’s scream curled and browned all the leaves on the trees. White hot knifes pierced every inch of her body. She saw Ron’s face, and Harry’s too. She saw the Burrow and Hogwarts castle. She smelled new roles of parchment and fleshly mowed grass. Everything she loved flooded her mind, helping her survive the otherwise unbearable pain.
As soon as the pain had flooded her body, it stopped. But the memory of the pain didn’t. Hermione’s breathing was harsh and heavy as she gingerly rose from the ground.
"Had enough?" snarled Snape.
Before Snape could cast another spell, Hermione Apparated behind him and sent a spell straight to the back of his head.
"Privor membros," Hermione said in a deadly whisper.
Snape screamed in agony and fear as his legs were magically detached from his body. Hermione could not stand the gruesome sight and gagged. She Disapparated, unable to stand the sight, but sure that Snape would kill himself once he realized what had been done.
___Severus Snape pondered over his options. He needed to take some time to think about this. Rash decisions never turned out well. It would be so much simpler to use the killing spell on her, but he wanted her to die a slow painful death, just as he almost had.
Snape could not walk, since he had not legs. He needed to Apparate everywhere he went. It was a hassle, but it was better than having someone help him.
Snape disappeared, and then reappeared on the other side of the room. He used his arms to pull himself up onto his special stool; it was slightly rounded so that he would not topple off. He pulled a spell book from the bookcase and began to search.
Hermione sat, waiting for Draco to come. She didn’t want to eat the poisonous food, but she was to the point of painful hunger.
She stared at the door, perhaps trying to use her mind to make it open and Draco appear. The door opened a crack and Draco stepped in.
"Sorry," he panted, "but I was trying to get the wand, I’m sure there wasn’t more than one spell left, but I heard Snape Apparate and was afraid it was into that room. I ran as fast as I could to get here."
Draco took out his wand, moved it in a swishing horizontal movement. The food disappeared. He used his wand to make the same movement, though vertically. Hermione hungrily attacked the food that had just appeared on her plate.
"You know, I never thought of you as one to eat much, Hermione," confided Draco.
"Well, I never usually am," responded Hermione, though slightly muffled due to the food in her mouth. "But, I’ve never had to wait for meals; I usually have them at the same time everyday."
Draco shrugged and settled himself into a corner of the room.
When Hermione finished her food, she went and sat next to her new friend. She turned to him with a serious expression.
"What changed?" she asked.
"What do you mean?" questioned Draco.
"I mean, what made you change? You certainly weren’t like this a few years ago."
Draco sighed and looked away. He stared as if he was looking at beautiful scenery though a window, but all he saw was gray, grimy walls.
"A lot of things, I suppose," he said finally. "For one, my parents weren’t there to influence me anymore. They always encouraged me to get involved with the Dark Arts, to shun Muggle-borns and call them nasty names. Under no circumstances was I to associate with Gryffindors. Or Hufflepuffs, for that matter."
Draco took a breath, and the look on his face showed that every word was practically killing him. It was obviously a sensitive subject for him, Hermione realized.
"Draco, you don’t have to-"
"No," he protested. "It feels good to finally tell someone. So, it changed when Voldemort recruited me. My mother became a frantic wreck, even my father sent a letter from Azkaban, warning me to be careful. I finally witnessed first hand, Voldemort’s methods of torture. I was supposed to kill Dumbledore, but I couldn’t. Under my parents influence, I never liked him, but hen had never wronged me; in fact, he was overly kind to me. Dumbledore knew what I was involved in; he could have turned my in to Azkaban. But he didn’t. When I fled with Snape, I was soon able to breakaway. I snuck through Britain, into libraries, into private homes, looking for new spells to help me. When whispers came that the Final Battle was approaching, I went. Unnoticed by Snape or anyone else, I fought for the good side. I killed a number of Death Eaters, including one, that you thought you killed."
Hermione’s face took on a look of unbelieving surprise. Who had she thought she killed, but had actually survived?
"Fenrir Greyback. A werewolf, only able to be killed by silver through its’ heart. You must have forgotten this, Hermione. In the darkness, you didn’t see me behind the Death Eater. At the same time you sent ‘Avada Kedavra’ at him, I put a stake through his heart," Draco told Hermione.
"I never realized. I should have thought back, noticed that a spell wouldn’t kill a werewolf, but I didn’t look back. I tried so hard to block out that horrible night," said Hermione. She spoke in a monotone, as if on command. Hermione didn’t seem to be in the same realm as Draco.
"When the fire occured in this very mansion, killing my parents, Snape came here. I found him. I had been hiding out, hoping my parents wouldn’t find me. I finally saw the evil of the late Voldemort. I didn’t want them to bend my mind again. I saw Snape enter the mansion and followed him. It’s been my purpose to kill him, but I haven’t been able to do it. Like I said, I do have a life debt to the man."
Hermione, whose mind was back into focus, could see tears shining in Draco’s eyes. She was almost hysterical thinking about it. The Malfoy she knew back in school would rather have died, than be seen crying. She vaguely recalled Harry mentioning, that the day he had used ‘Sectumsempra’ on Draco, he had seen him crying in the bathroom. Hermione hadn’t believed it; she didn’t think it was possible of the once heartless creature. Now she believed Harry. As they said: Seeing is believing.
"Now you know the truth," said Draco.
"Now I know the truth," repeated Hermione.
"I’ve got to go, before Snape get’s suspicious," Malfoy said.
Hermione nodded. The last thing she wanted was her only companion to be gone. She watched his back as he left the room, and felt a pang of longing. It surprised her.
Her pang of longing was not for friendship, as it usually was, but for something more. Hermione gasped to herself; the feeling she felt now was quite similar to the one she had felt for Ron all that time ago. How long was it? She wondered.
But Hermione’s mind didn’t dwell on that for too long; she was horrified by the new emotion that she had felt for Draco.
Hermione felt suddenly drained. They energy that possessed her just a few minutes ago was completely gone. She dragged her heavy feet to the mat. It felt surprisingly comfortable as she lay her head down and drifted into sleep.
"Come here," demanded Snape.
Malfoy walked over to the evil man, dreading the next assignment he was going to be given. Torture innocent people? Imperius someone to do dirty work? It didn’t matter. No matter what Snape said, Draco knew he wouldn’t want to do it.
"You must torture the Mudblood," commanded Snape.
"What?" asked Malfoy, unbelievingly. He couldn’t do that. Hurting strangers was bad enough, but his friend? He couldn’t hurt Hermione in a million years.
"You heard me, torture her. Crucio is being too nice. I want real torture. Now be gone."
Draco Apparated away quickly. He couldn’t believe what he had to do. Over time he had come to like her. He supposed love might have been a strong word, but he definitely had feelings for her. Her pale, delicate face, her tangled, bushy hair. Something that was not conventionally attractive, but he did not agree.
Hermione had a surprisingly care-free nature. When not in a rush, or being pressured, Hermione Granger was the most laid-back person he had met. She was funny and joked even though she was being held captive by the man that had killed her beloved mentor.
He ran through the corridors. Heading right to Hermione’s room, more properly called Hermione’s prison. Snape couldn’t get into the room, it was the one room that he couldn’t Apparate into. Draco would hear Snape’s Apparation crack if he was coming. There was no need to worry about being caught.
"Hermione! " burst Draco. He was out of breath as he pushed open the door.
"What?" asked Hermione, frightened. Draco’s frantic face and voice scared her.
"He told me, he told me - to torture you. I think he meant to torture you to death."
Hermione’s eyes went wide. That man would stop at nothing. Snape intended to kill her, and he intended to make it painful.
"I’ll get your wand, Hermione, I’ll go get it now," Draco claimed. With that he sprinted from the room at full speed.
Once again, Hermione felt the longing as she watched Draco retreating back. She still loved Ron, she knew. But was it possible that she loved Draco too?
A/N2: The spell ‘Privor Membros’ was made up by me. As far as the English-Latin dictionaries tell me it should be privor = to be deprived of, membros = limb.
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