Chapter 5 : The Limits
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A small crystal dish filled with a truffle pudding was set before both Hermione and Draco because again, Hermione thought, it was tradition that the host tested the quality of food and to make sure no poison had been served in the dish. Hermione was surprised that she could remember what was expected of her and that the pureblood ways were so restraining. Hermione felt as if she had no freedom to act as she wish and even the conversation at the dinner table was basically scripted. There were only a handful of topics that could be breached at the dinner table.
Hermione let Malfoy attest to the quality of the dessert and the crystal dishes were distributed to the remaining guests. Hermione was happy that dinner was coming to a quick close because she was tiring of the company and conservation, or the lack thereof. Hermione had been repeated asked about her past, her father, her mother, her guardians, and her education. She knew they were making sure she was trustworthy. Though dinner was coming to an end in the pit of her stomach she felt that when dinner ended, her night would take a turn for the worse.
When all the plates had disappeared from the table and the conversation was mellow, Antonin stood from his position at the head of the table and started an explanation.
“I think we all know why we have gathered here today but I think it is special because it is not often we gain a new member such as the beautiful Miss Hailey Gibbon.” Antonin’s beady eyes roamed over the couple.
“Maybe, soon Mrs. Malfoy, should everything go accordingly tonight?” Hermione did her best to cover her surprise and Antonin’s suggestion because she knew it was irrefutable. Malfoy would be forced to do what was asked of him. Malfoy nodded in acceptance as though he had been informed this would happen.
“Tonight we gain a new member of this little group.” Antonin continued with an evil smirk upon his face. “Normally, we would have a few more members present for an initiation but I did not feel as though this should be a spectacle since she is so close to Draco. Let us adjourn to the room and start the process.”
Malfoy stood in and all the men stood following him and repeated his actions. Malfoy pulled out Hermione’s chair to help her up. Once she was standing he put his arm around her waist and led the way out of the room and into the hall. Antonin followed next and then the pairs respectively and the group was closed by Rodolphus. The whole situation was very formal and rehearsed Hermione thought.
Hermione barely realized where they were headed until she stood in front of the room she had been facing earlier that day and a chill settled over Hermione. While Hermione had not let her mind roam too much into what would be expected of her she knew in that moment it was going to be much worse than she had expected of her first day on the job. The true fear in Boppy’s eyes from earlier that day kept replaying over and over in her mind. Draco had noticed the change in her demeanor and was unsure on how she knew what was coming but he whispered in the faintest of voice.
“Just do what is asked and everything will be fine.”
Hermione heard Malfoy whisper something that echoed a statement from Harry. She knew she would and could defeat any task in front of her. Hermione just wondered if she would want to. The doors opened on their own when Malfoy flicked his hand and in the second she entered the room the eerie calmness over took her and she knew she had seen this scene before.
Before Hermione was a square room built from cold and unforgiving gray stones. The room was bigger than she thought it should have been from the outside but it matched exactly the room from the Department of Mysteries in the Ministry of Magic. The middle of the room was sunken in to the ground and the stone pathway around the upper portion had different sets of steps leading into the pit. She couldn’t quite see the object at the bottom of the depression but she knew what would be down there. In her mind’s eye she could see the memories from that fateful day that Sirius Black was murder by the same crazy wretch that had tortured her mercilessly.
If Malfoy’s arm had not been around her waist she was sure wouldn’t have been able to move but he would not allow her to stop moving. If she had it would have been perceived as a sign of weakness and her current cohorts were not the type to forgive and forget this early in the game. Hermione shuffled her feet as they got closer to a set of steps leading downward. She was afraid she would trip and fall down the narrow steps but again Malfoy didn’t let her fall and kept her momentum going forward. Her feet finally touch the stone floor at the bottom of the steps and she could take in the full view of what she was facing.
Working at the Ministry she had heard many rumors, most turned out to be false, but one she thought had been a rumor was slapping her in the face with reality. The Department of Mysteries had been indeed broken into and something of great value was taken from it ancient guarded halls.
It was as it had been all those years ago. In the middle of the pit stood a dais made of stone and upon the platform stood a very old looking arch with a thin, tattered black veil hanging from it. This time she knew what she was facing. The veil separated the living and the dead. Even though the veil looked thin it did not mean that one could cross the threshold from the land of the dead back into the land of the living. She had learned this cold hard truth when Harry’s godfather when through the veil and never came back. Hermione had remembered Harry and Luna talking about the voices coming from beyond the veil but Hermione had trouble believing the duo. The reason Hermione and her friends where in the Department of Mysteries was because Harry had let someone inside his head and Luna was a bit loony anyway, but now it she heard them. She had had too many encounters with death to not be aware of its presence.
Hermione’s eyes were drawn to the shivering figure crouched in front of the veil. It looked as though the figure had been put in a bond bind curse but fear they were feeling was overcoming the curse. The dread she had been feeling and settled into a horrified chill in the pit of her stomach. She, herself, had felt the complete disregard that these people had for people they thought were beneath them. She knew what would be asked of her and she didn’t know if she would be able to do it. Her mind raced in all the ways to get out of being the one on that platform. She knew she would never be able to and live so her mind turned to ways to act like she was following orders.
Before Hermione could think through her situation she was at the top of the dais standing in front of the terrified figure on the ground. Out of the corner of her she watched as the different couples stood on each wall. Done had actually entered the pit and stood upon the ledge surrounding the room. Through the veil on the other side of the room she could see Rodolphus’s eyes gleam with hunger.
The low rumble started around Hermione and it permeated the air with magic. It was not the magic Hermione was use to for it had a ting of evil. The darkness of the words being spoken by the different members of the Venators made the air thick with the pain that had been inflicted in this room. The movement around her resulted in the members being robed in black robes with hoods that shadowed everyone’s face. The rumble was growing and she realized that the noise were words weaving a spell in the room.
“Mors sit ad minorem entia” She recognized the words as Latin but the mean eluded her. The feeling in the room did not.
“Hailey Gibbon, You have been brought before us by our faithful follower Draco Malfoy.” Antonin’s voice floated on top of the words in the air. “Though it should be no problem for you, we must ask a display of your loyalty to me and my followers.”
The quivering bundle at Hermione’s feet started to twitch as it came out of the full body bind. She was able to see the young woman with stringy, dingy blonde hair kneeling at her feet. The pure terror with the young girl’s eye was receding into a full blown panic.
“We don’t like it when these vermin steal the little magic we have left. The torture will release the magic from her form before death takes her.” Antonin’s meaning settled over Hermione’s form. Hermione could help to see the lack of logic in his words. Magic was not released from the body through torture and to think that way would be absurd at the least. The logic of the pureblooded people was flawed and ancient but this was bordering on maniacal. Her mind was racing the few seconds she could spare before it looked like she was stalling on her “duties”. Her thought were interrupted when the girl took off down the steps in flight. Hermione knew she could let her get away.
“Accio Mudblood.” Hermione cringed inwardly at her vocabulary as the word left a nasty taste on her tongue. As the girl zoomed back onto the platform with Hermione and Draco, Hermione caught Malfoy’s eye for a split second and he gave her a small but encouraged nod which was out of character but Hermione knew his fate also rested on her performance. Malfoy’s were always self persevering to the end and Hermione had no doubts the only reason Draco changed his loyalties the war because he knew Voldemort wasn’t going to prevail. Hermione was beyond sickened at her situation she was in and her company.
Hermione shot a nonverbal spell at the girl and she started screaming at the top of her lungs. The girl clutched her sides and fell to the ground with apparent pain and agony coursing through her body. Hermione trying to stay true to her character managed to let a small smile grace her lips as the young girl let out a particularly piercing scream. With tears running down her face the girl managed to yell “Why me? What have I done to you?”
Hermione let three little words that penetrated her to the soul slip past her lips. “You were born.” Hermione had been in this situation as the victim. The girl fought the curse Hermione had placed on her and tried with all her might to stand up. In a quick and jerky movement Hermione was horrified at the consequences. The girl in her effort to stand lost her footing and fell backwards. The time slowed down and Hermione locked eyes with the girl. She saw the relief and the girl sent Hermione a silent Thank you with her eyes. Hermione broke character as the blonde fell through the veil.
“NOO!” Hermione roared and lunged forward to grab the girl. Her fingers grazed over the girl’s fingers but Hermione was unable to save her. Hermione couldn’t believe a life was gone. The young girl’s last moments were full of fear and knowing she was hated. Her mind was once again ripping and racing for a way to cover herself. The chanting had stopped and she could feel nine sets of eyes on her.
“I wasn’t done.” Hermione pouted in Draco’s direction. She visibly saw the relief in his eyes at her last words. Malfoy opened his mouth to response but was interrupted by the sharp clap of two hands slapping together. Draco’s head turn away from Hermione and towards the origin of the sound. The form of Antonin was making way down the stone steps and into the pit. His hands were still positioned in front of his face from the one demanding clap he had produced. The demanding air of the man did not diminish as he approached the couple standing on the dais.
“Draco, what did you think?” Antonin questioned as he placed a hand on Hermione’s lower back. Hermione had to resist the urge to skitter away from his touch as the tingle of revulsion crept over her skin.
“I think my opinion would be bias in this situation.” Draco’s answer was a bit diplomatic but knowing his opinion did not matter to Antonin in this situation. “I hope to hear your opinion on the matter.” Draco passed the proverbial torch back to the leader. Antonin knew the tactic that Draco was using on him but did not comment.
“Draco,” Antonin called him by his first name once more. Draco nodded in response. Hermione watched the exchange in as much curiosity she could muster in this situation. She was trembling on the inside because she knew the next words would seal her fate in this group. Her performance had been done well enough but she had almost blown it when the foolish girl fought the spell Hermione had placed on her and hadn’t given Hermione the chance to save her life but Hermione could not dwell on that in this moment and hope she would have time later for that.
“This was rough around the edges at best.” She cringed at creepy bastard’s reply because it had not defined her destiny in any way and the doubt within her grew exponential with each second that past in silence.
“She was never been trained in the art of torture. For her first time with a live captive, she performed.” Draco defended her. Antonin began leading Hermione around the platform and ended up stopping in front of the veil as the black tattered material billowed in the nonexistent breeze. Hermione stomach creased in horror as she guessed at what was going to happen to her. Antonin’s hand pushed her to step forward as she was mere moments from her end. The veil caressed her cheek and invited her into the beyond. She waited for the finally push from the man next to her and as she knew she should fight for her life but something was stopping her as the voices from beyond whispered quietly in her ears. She welcomed seeing her loved she had lost she heard his voice ring in her ear.
“What do you see Hailey?” he spoke in low voice cold voice that shook her from her revere. She recognized he was speaking to her through her alias.
“I see the end of humanity through there. The black cloak of death.” She answered from her core.
“Death is not the end.” He told her. She nodded because it felt right.
“I think you will do well in the Venators.” Her heart seized in her chest at his words and the meaning as he let her step away from the brink of the eternity. She felt his chilling touch leave her skin and she stepped towards her only ally in the room. He may be the lowest of the low in her estimation but she was trembling from the experience. His hand went to her waist as she came close enough to be within reach to support her so she didn’t fall to her knees in front of everyone.
“Draco, you know what is expected of you.” Antonin informed him as the couples began to leave the chamber and the leader followed everyone out and the doors slammed shut and Hermione was able to step away from Malfoy and out of reach. Hermione staring at the veil as she mental relived the horrors that had unfolded minutes prior. She kept reliving the moment the young woman had vanished through the fluttering, unassuming veil in front of her now. After a few minutes of silence her thought were interrupted by the indifferent voice of Malfoy.
“That went better than planned. I’m surprised you were able to torture her.” Malfoy tried to compliment her but found it hard so he settled with that.
“I didn’t.” Hermione whispered from her trance like state, her eyes never wavering from the material. All that Draco thought he knew was being questioned.
“What is that suppose to mean.” His tone was taking on a hint on irritation at her previous statement.
“In the muggle world magicians are illusionists. It is something easily applied to this world if you do it right. The Imperius curse can allow me to use her actions to suggest she is being tortured. Though, I did not send her through the veil to her death. That was her own doing.” If Hermione had been looking at Malfoy she would have seen his express fail momentarily with realization before forming a cold hard mask again.
“That veil is a one way portal to the Department of Mysteries. It was recreated by Dumbledore before he died as a personal side project. It was moved here and a rumor released about a break in. Your girl’s memory is being modified and she is being put in protective services. I live in a whole of illusions.” Draco informed her in a flat expressionless voice and with that he turned and walked away leaving Hermione alone with her thoughts.
A/N: What do you think?? Please let me know. You reviews mean the world to me.
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