Chapter 6 : Chapter Six
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The water was dripping. A steady stream of sound that could not be stopped. Drip drop, drip drop. It came from a leaking faucet one cell over. One cell over, impossible to ignore. If they were trying to torture her, they were doing a fantastic job. Drip, drop. She had read somewhere about some ancient Muggle torture device involving water…what was it called? Chinese water torture, that was it. That’s what they were doing to her.
She had been down for two days, with no visitors since Narcissa, no meals, no word at all. Even rats didn't inhabit the dismal cell. What kind of respectable dungeon was missing rats? The absence of life was worse than whatever spell the Death Eaters could perform on her.
The cell was seven paces by four paces, strangely large. Weren’t cells supposed to be tiny? Unless she was expecting company… Which she wasn’t. Or was she? The absence of knowledge was frustrating, and Hermione knew she had no way to find out. A book wouldn’t help her in this situation.
Seven paces by four paces. Drip, drop. The dungeon had a distinct smell, a smell that wafted around Hermione, penetrating her hair, her clothing. It was the smell of old piss mixed with the stench of decay. The stink had been strong when Hermione first gained consciousness, but it was slowly fading. She had gotten used to it, she supposed.
Hermione wandered around the dank room, searching for a way out. Accidentally, her elbow brushed the cell door. A sharp, sudden burst of pain shot into her bloodstream. Wincing, Hermione pulled up her black sleeve. Burned, again. The bars were cursed with some sort of spell, charcruse, Hermione had decided. That was her third blister. Both her hands were burned raw from escape attempts, with tender red welts that stung every time she clenched her fists.
The cell consisted of a rough stone bench, low to the ground, a dusty stone floor, and a partly rotten nail. If only I could Transfigure the nail, Hermione thought. It could be a, a… Hermione paused. She couldn’t think if anything that would be of any use to her in a cage. Her knowledge had failed her once again.
Hermione sat gingerly on the bench, pulling her legs up to her chest. Slowly, she rocked back and forth. Slowly, slowly. It had been forth eight hours since she had last closed her eyes. Still, she couldn’t slumber. She had already made so many careless mistakes; she vowed not to make another. Falling asleep in a Death Eater’s dungeon definitely counted as an error.
Hermione stifled a jaw cracking yawn as her body weighed itself down, drowsy with sleep. She was so tired. Her eyelids tugged downward, inviting her to slumber. Hermione struggled against her body’s impulses, struggling to stay awake. What was the refreshing spell? Resta. Resta, resta. That was the last word Hermione thought before dropping off into a dark deep dreamless sleep.
“Finally,” a cold voice drawled, cutting through Hermione’s cloud of sleep. “I thought you had died. But I suppose that’s too much to hope for.”
“What?” Hermione muttered groggily. Hermione sat up drowsily, rubbing the sleep out her eyes.
A weak ray of sunlight peeked around the thick bars, illuminating her captor’s halo of blonde hair. He wore black robes, his arms crossed at his chest.
“Malfoy,” she spit, instantly awake. Instinctively, she grabbed her wand to hex him. Realizing, somewhat late, that her wand had been confiscated, Hermione settled for crossing her arms.
“Have you been watching me all this time?” Hermione asked nastily. “Adding pervert to your long list of desirable qualities?”
“For you information, Mudblood—“ Catching himself, Malfoy stopped. “Never mind. Any knowledge is too pure for your filthy ears.”
“What knowledge?” Hermione asked cautiously. As much as she hated asking Malfoy anything, she was desperate to know.
“None of your concern, Granger,” he said smugly.
Hot rage pulsed behind Hermione’s eyes. Using all the self-control she had, she turned to face the cell wall. Another emotion brewed under her hatred and anger: fear. She had no idea what Malfoy was doing in the dungeon, or what he was capable of. She had seen him curse the helpless too many times to be unconcerned with her safety. She didn’t trust him, not for a second. Any remark could have painful consequences. Determined not to suffer any consequences, Hermione bit her tongue.
“What, silent now?” Malfoy asked. Hermione trained her stare at the wall, counting cracks in the stone. “Or are you too stupid to answer?”
Hermione hummed, blocking out his words. One, two, three, four, tell me that you love me more. It seemed Malfoy was determined also— determined to be a cruel, arrogant toe rag.
“Hello there? Granger?” Malfoy, unused to be his requests being ignored, moved his face closed to the cell bars. “Are you deaf, Mudblood? Hello?”
One, two, three, four, five, six, nine, and ten.
Money can't buy you back the love that you had then. La, la, la, I can’t hear you.
There was a pause. Hermione didn’t want to infuriate Malfoy, but she didn’t want to answer him either. After another hesitation, Hermione turned slowly to face Malfoy. “Oh,” she said in mock surprise. “Were you saying something, ferretboy? I mean, Malfoy.”
Malfoy’s face contorted into an ugly sneer. “I was just saying, Mudblood, that until you learn a little respect, your food’s going to feed the rats.”
At the wrong moment, Hermione stomach growled hungrily. Malfoy’s smirk increased.
“There aren’t any rats,” Hermione muttered angrily, attempting to cover a moment’s weakness.
The comment seemed to surprise Malfoy. “Oh course there are rats,” he said arrogantly. “Or are you blind and deaf?”
“Look around, Malfoy,” Hermione snapped. “Let’s see, what do we have? Stone, bars, a dripping faucet, an abducted girl, and, wow, look at that, no rats. Nothing is living down here in your lovely dungeon. Are you blind?”
Taking advantage of his momentary silence, Hermione plowed on. “So are you going to give me the food or not, Malfoy? Because to be honest, your Pureblood hospitality is wearing thin.”
The boy stared at her angrily for a moment, then turned around. Perfect, Hermione thought, Now he’s leaving. Goodbye, supper. Hello, starvation.
But to her surprise, he did not ascend the stone steps. Instead he reached behind him and pulled foreword Hermione’s rations: a wooden tray that held slightly moldy cheese and a hunk of bread.
“Gee,” said Hermione sarcastically, “You didn’t have to go all out. Toast would have been fine.”
“You’re lucky you’re getting anything,” Malfoy retorted. “It’s insulting that I have to share my crumbs with a Mudblood like you.”
“Shut up,” Hermione mumbled. Even when she was a prisoner he had to lord his power over her. No wonder everyone despised him.
Malfoy, oblivious to her comment, passed the tray through the bars. Annoyed, Hermione jogged her memory for a vaporizing spell. The only one she could remember was at N.E.W.T.S. level, and she wasn’t eager to admit Malfoy had the intelligence to master it.
She begrudgingly held out her hands for the tray, careful not to touch the bars. Malfoy passed the unappetizing nourishment to Hermione. Accidentally, their hands brushed. They both jerked away as if burned, severing the contact. The tray dropped with a clang against the stone floor. The cheese rolled one way, the bread another. Hermione winced internally as the cheese hit a cobweb.
“Wonderful Granger,” Malfoy spit malevolently, “Now I have the stink of Mudblood on me.”
“And now I have Pureblood slime on my hand. So I guess it all works out.”
Grimacing, Malfoy wiped his hand on his robes extravagantly, leaning against the wall with no visible intentions to leave.
Glowering, Hermione scavenged her moldy cheese and stale bread, wiping the dust off them. “Going to watch me eat?”
“As if I had a choice,” Malfoy sneered bitterly. “Apparently I’m the official Mudblood warden.”
Hermione paused, a hunk of bread halfway to her mouth. “What?”
“No one’s told you? Well then, sorry to spoil the surprise.”
Hermione opened her mouth to reply, but a voice called down the cellar.
“Draco? Come up here now.”
With one final sneer, Malfoy swept up the staircase.
Author’s Note: And so, the next chapter is up! Thanks to ChelleCookie and Blissbug for inspiration. And if you would type a comment or two into the little box below, it would make me very happy. Thank you!
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