To Risk It All

Do you know that saying ‘Keep your friends close and your enemies closer’? Well Hermione didn’t believe in it until her life flashed before her eyes. Trapped in Malfoy Manor, tortured, threatened with death, forced to tell secrets, her only hope is him. He wants to try, he wants to forget. He wants redemption not power. But with time ticking and a battle looming will they survive?

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1. The Disaster at Malfoy Manor

 

One

                                       The Disaster at Malfoy Manor                                      

Disaster is a natural part of my evolution toward tragedy and dissolution – Chuck Palahniuk

Silence had fallen.

Anyone who could’ve seen Malfoy Manor would not have guessed at what had proceeded just a mere time ago, the battle that had commenced, the two lives that had been lost and the one life that had been endangered by her own selflessness.

Hermione sat in the dungeon. She didn’t know whether she trembled because of the cold or in fear. Her body was sore from curses, her head felt like there was a brass band playing inside of her skull, and her eyes could not stop straying from the slumped dead body in the corner. The dead body of Peter Pettigrew lay in the corner. Killed by his silver hand, what a terrible fate she decided (she felt disgusted at herself that her mind had been tainted to believe that the killing curse was the easiest death). She supposed that it was Voldemort’s fault, everything was at this point of the war but Harry and Ron witnessed Pettigrew take his final breath but they did not stop it. She supposed that selfless acts were scarce in the dark days they were in (especially the fact that Peter had betrayed the Potter’s and had therefore not deserved mercy would have prevented Harry from saving him).  She was supposing a lot but it was a simple tactic to pass the time.  She knew that every man were for themselves at this point – she wanted to change that but couldn’t at her predicament.

The dungeon in Malfoy Manor was arctic, dark and simply barbaric. Imagining the gruesome acts that probably took place in there she shuddered and painfully turned her head. There was no way she could track how long she had been in the dungeon, or how long she had been unconscious, or how long she had been tortured and how long she had been in Malfoy Manor. That’s what she got for being selfless; in one way Hermione decided it was an act of bravery. But another side of her, that little voice at the back of her mind, said that it was a stupid act, that it would get her killed. Her mind was reeling, a tangled mess of intangible thoughts. At least that took her away from the tantalizing offer of insanity. Would insanity take her away from all of this?

No! She could not fall to craziness, she would not. She ran through the memory of how she ended up there, it wasn’t pleasant but it would distract her – for a while. The memory was like a scar etched into her brain, she would never forget it and it would always remain crystal clear.

  Hermione knew that she was alone. Harry and Ron had been taken away and she was left with Bellatrix. Bellatrix would show no mercy and Hermione knew that she would be on the receiving end of brutal torture.

“Now, where did you get this sword?”

She knew she couldn’t answer as she was too scared that the truth would be spilled. With her lips locked she glanced around the room. Lucius, Narcissa and Draco stood together along one wall, standing there, just watching.

She could feel Bellatrix growing impatient with every passing second. “I’m going to ask you again, where did you get this sword? Where?” Hermione looked away and created a lie.

“We found it – we found it,” she pleaded,

“You filthy little mudblood, do not lie to me. You have been inside my vault at Gringotts haven’t you? Tell me the truth!” Hermione knew that she would become the victim of several dark curses or violence and was lucky to have been spared for the amount of time she had. Bellatrix took the knife, which had cut her free from the others, and poised it at the skin on her left wrist. She slashed and created a shallow cut. It stung and she could feel the warmth of her own blood weeping out of the wound. She screamed in agony.

If she could strain her ears she could hear the forlorn screams of her name “HERMIONE! HERMIONE!” that came from down below from Ron.  She wished he would stop and save himself rather than shouting out and alert to the others that he cared for her. It would not only draw attention to him and Harry but make Hermione more vulnerable to punishments meant to anger the boy who lived into doing something stupid. 

“Looks like lover boy down there cares for you,” Bellatrix murmured in her ear and hovered over her “Now tell me what else you took. Tell me the truth or I’ll run you through with this knife,”

“Nothing – we took nothing,” she cried but it wasn’t what Bellatrix wanted to hear. Hermione wanted to buy time for the boys so that they could come up with an escape plan and get themselves out of there, even if it meant her death or insanity. Bellatrix brought down the knife and slashed again, this time deeper, she screamed. 

“What else did you take?” When Hermione didn’t answer immediately she saw the rage that settled on her torturers face and knew what was coming before it was voiced aloud. “CRUCIO!”  The pain was so consuming, so intense that Hermione no longer knew where she was or her own name. There was only the pain – the relentless white hot knives that stabbed every inch of her body. She was screaming more loudly than she ever had. Then it was over and she lay there gasping for breath. She could faintly hear Bellatrix ask her something before the curse was put on her again, she heard voices within her screams but the pain drowned everything out. Abruptly the pain was gone and she was allowed a few moments to regain her breath.  “How did you get into my vault?” Bellatrix screamed “Did that goblin in the cellar help you?” Her wand was poised at her again and she knew that she had to say something – anything to avoid that curse again.

“We only met him tonight,” she sobbed “I swear we’ve never been inside your vault... the sword isn’t even real. It’s just a copy!”

“A copy?” Bellatrix screeched it was quite a contrast from Hermione’s low plead “A likely story to save your neck,” and she placed her wand on her right arm and carved a single word on her skin. Hermione screamed and cried with the pain.

“But we can find out if she is telling the truth or not,” the sound of Lucius’s voice came and then he told Draco to fetch the goblin and she moved her head. Draco stammered an affirmative and walked quickly. Her eyes fell to the burning word on her arm, ‘Mudblood’. She cried quietly and apart of her just wished for the end of it all. Within moments Draco marched Griphook to Bellatrix and she had placed the Cruciatus curse on the goblin. Hermione watched through blurry eyes as the goblin fell to his knees but no screams escaped him. The goblin was relieved of the pain but Bellatrix wasn’t happy. Before she could commence with more torture the sound of someone apparating sounded down from the cellars. “What was that? Did everyone else hear that? It came from the cellars,” Lucius said, it got everyone’s attention. “Draco – no call Wormtail, tell him to go check on our prisoners.”  While someone called for Wormtail everyone else was waiting with baited breath for a noise, even if it was slight, from the cellar.

When news reached them that Wormtail was checking the cellar Bellatrix whispered to Hermione “You better hope that your friends down there aren’t causing trouble or you’ll get the punishment of your life.” Hermione cringed and yet they all waited for the source of the noise.

“What is it Wormtail?” Lucius could be heard saying but the answer was lost, it was still a while before anything happened. Everything was still and the death eaters wanted action.

“What is taking so long?” Bellatrix sneered and unleashed yet another Cruciatus on Hermione. As she screamed Bellatrix called the goblin over and handed him the sword. As the curse ended she asked him the question “Well... is it real?” Hermione knew that if Griphook revealed the true authenticity of the sword they would be doomed. They needed that to destroy the Horcruxes.

“No,” Griphook said, “It is indeed a fake.” Hermione almost sighed in relief but couldn’t find the energy to do so. She thought that she could see shadows in the corner but passed it off as the aftershocks of the curse. Bellatrix made sure that the goblin was sure and when he confirmed it she only expressed her relief and unknown to her both light and dark parties felt the same emotion.

“And now we call the Dark lord,” she said with glee and pushing her sleeve up she pressed her forefinger to her dark mark. Hermione unconsciously recoiled in horror. Harry was still in there somewhere and he had to get out quickly or he would face He Who Must Not Be Named well before all of his Horcruxes could be destroyed. “I think we have no need for the mudblood now, so Greyback take her if you want.” Hermione didn’t want to even look at the vile monstrosity that was Fenrir Greyback nevertheless imagining her future demise. But before he could step up to fulfil his desire Ron burst into the drawing room with a mighty yell. Flashes of spells erupted around her while the darkness closed in. She faintly felt Bellatrix haul her up and support her as she shouted her threat. “Stop or she dies!”

Hermione knew that Harry and Ron had no chance, they would drop their wands for her and she wanted them just to leave her and go.  As she felt herself disappear into oblivion she heard Bellatrix scold her. “Oh no you don’t you filthy little mudblood you will get to see Potter’s death before Greyback has his way with you,” Bellatrix made sure that Hermione had her eyes open and she could see Harry and Ron’s terrified look at her condition. A blade was held to her throat as Bellatrix proclaimed to Greyback that the Dark lord couldn’t deny his desires for his brilliant work, Hermione had never detested the death eaters more.

Suddenly there was a peculiar grinding noise above. Hermione had just enough strength to look up to see the great chandelier tremble and begin to fall. She and Bellatrix were right underneath it. Bellatrix threw herself away from it and she fell to the floor, no strength left.

The impact was a soft blow compared to the curses and she lay in amongst the sea of debris. She saw Ron move towards her. She saw Lucius start to creep behind him. And yet she knew what to do. Through her screaming body she tried to warn Ron. “Ron, Ron. L-look o-out,” he took no notice and she knew it was no use. Mustering up the small supply of strength she moved faintly. She saw Ron grin in pleasure, never noticing Lucius behind him, ready to get him. Suddenly, she hurled herself in between the pair and felt a wand place itself in her palm. Shakily she held it up to Lucius; Ron had now turned with a gasp. “Go Ron! Leave me,” she croaked. Lucius’s face was a mask of rage and she yelled ‘go’ one last time before she felt Lucius lunge. With a conflicted expression Ron ran towards the spot where Harry was. Hermione was glad just for a split moment before Lucius back handed her to the floor and snatched the wand from her hand. She didn’t have the strength to say a spell anyway. 

 “Dobby,” Narcissa, who had her wand directed towards the door and her son away from harm, screamed. Bellatrix froze,

“Kill him Cissy,” But a crack had her wand flying across to the other side of the room. “How dare you take a witches wand, how dare you defy your masters, you dirty little monkey.”

Dobby, being the brave little soul he is, replied with “Dobby has no master,”

“Ron apparate already, get out of here!” she screamed from her position, as a crumpled heap, on the floor, she briefly saw Harry hoist Griphook over his shoulder before time seemed to halt. She saw Ron look back briefly. That boy had the emotional range of a teaspoon, she mused.

 As Harry started to turn Bellatrix picked up the scattered knife and hauled it through the air. Where it soared through with them and probably struck its intended target – Dobby; Hermione internally cried and screamed with horror and grief. The sound of apparating echoed all around them.  She saw the lone, frozen figure of Draco and heard Bellatrix’s cackle before succumbing to the darkness.

She had then woken in this cellar or dungeon as she called it. She had heard You-Know Who’s fury as he tortured his death eaters left, right and centre. Hermione figured it was because they had had Harry but had let him go and instead supplied him with her. She knew that she could see him at any time, and had come to be dreading it. At first she had willed herself not to be afraid of him, to admit that to show fear would be what he wanted so she had to stay strong, but as time drifted lazily on her nerves frayed.  So she just sat there, shivering, waiting.

At last the time came when she came face to face to Voldemort. He was the man who could kill her in a heartbeat, who could torture her without a second glance at her already broken body, the man who was incapable of love. A sliver of light trickled in from the doorway but was mostly blocked from the mass of black cloak that came down to greet her.

“Well if it isn’t Potter’s know it all,” he mused in his cold drawl. Voldemort stood in front of her. The room was now illuminated with the sickly light of a lantern (a lumos wasn’t enough she supposed) and reflected off of his gleaming red eyes. “I’d much rather it’d be Potter himself but he won’t function well without his brainy little mudblood around.”

When she didn’t answer he carried on. “My dear Bellatrix has already punished you enough for your dirty blood so I will show you mercy for now,” he chuckled darkly and Hermione curled further in on herself. She had never seen the Dark Lord before, she had heard about him in stories and had been told accounts and anecdotes about different appearances, now he stood before her and he frightened her. He rarely ever showed mercy on anyone so she supposed that the short rest was to be her last before merciless torture. “But be rest assured you will be well taken care of here,” she could see the cold, humorous quirk of his lips and her blood turned to ice within her veins “Although your treatment might be better if you give me the answers that I seek.”

“It depends on the questions,” she croaked through her parched, cracked lips. She wetted them to be able to speak better but found her tongue was as rough as sand paper.  He stepped closer. He kneeled in front of her. With a pale hand he lifted her chin up to look intently into her frightened eyes.

“What is Potter planning?” he asked. Hermione’s eyes searched the red orbs of Voldemort and found nothing but a cold man who sold his soul for immortality which had transformed him into a monster. He repeated his question and when she didn’t answer he reverted back into his harsh ways. “Legilimens,” he whispered.

At first Hermione didn't have a reason to panic much. When Harry alerted her to the fact that he was getting Ocumency lessons from Snape in fifth year she delved into the library to find out all that she could. She did it for Harry’s best interest as well as her own, just in case there came a time when she would need it. However, she was told that Voldemort was the best at this. He was good. He was relentless with his attacks, probing and stabbing at every weak spot in her defences. She didn't want him to get in but it took a lot of grim concentration to hold him off even for a little bit.

Then it was the time to panic.

The sight of endless black and stars erupting behind her eyes was replaced as a new scenery took over. She was at Hogwarts. But it was in flames, the structure defeated by the red dancers. She could hear herself breathing and she took every sight in; the destruction; the pile of bodies in one corner; the sight of Harry, Ron, the Weasley's, everybody tied up and hanging just inches above the ground. She turned to Harry, who looked like he was near on pleading with her, Hermione felt herself raise a wand, "Harry Potter you have failed the Wizarding World!" she shouted and then said the killing curse, she felt herself laughing as Harry's body fell to the ground dead. She then moved on to Ron.

"Hermione, this isn't you," he said,

"It is now," she felt herself saying, her voice cold and twisted. He was the next to die. Everybody she ever loved died at her hand. But what was the worst thing? Well, the answer was the fact that Hermione could feel the blood on her hands and yet she felt herself smiling; laughing; enjoying.

Then it finally ended and she lay there gasping for breath.

"What was that?" Her voice was back to normal now but she still felt horrified. Was she capable of that? Was that Voldemort's plan for her? To torture her by forcing her to kill the ones she held dear?

"That my dear," he said as he stood, once more being the almighty over the small, fragile child "Was something that I used all too often before Potter disabled me. Otherwise known as my method of torture where I replace a person's thoughts with something so horrible and nightmarish that they have no choice but to break down and let me see inside of their minds."  He was chuckling by the end of the sentence.

Hermione just cringed.

 “No wonder Potter kept you close,” he muttered before changing his question “Tell me, where are they?” he asked looking down at the slightly trembling girl.

“No,” she answered glaring at the floor “Why would I betray them?”

“To stay alive,”

“Then you obviously don’t know me,” she glared defiantly in his direction. She would never betray her friends for this monster, even if it meant being killed. Voldemort seethed. He had been merciful; he had been generous as he hadn’t ended her life yet. He needed her; she was his answer to getting to Potter.

“Imperio,” he said with boredom and anger lacing his voice. It immediately felt like Hermione was floating, like all of her problems had been lifted from her aching, tired shoulders. A tempting voice crooned into her ear “Tell me about Potter, what are his plans? Where is he?” she opened her mouth a crack to whisper the answers. No, what was she doing? She couldn’t do this. They were her friends, they made her better, they had stuck through thick and thin with her and she would not be a tattle tale. Her mouth spat out an answer.

“You’ll have to do better than that,” she retorted stubbornly and Voldemort lifted the spell with a barely suppressed rage. Hermione was relieved to shake off the floating feeling; she also compared it to being underwater, to being suspended in a body of nothingness just twirling around her.  She was drawn back to the horrible reality by his cruel smirk. The tip of his wand was planted at her temple, pushing away the sweaty locks and his head dipped to be level with her ear.

“I could easily say it now, end it all and kill you. What would your answer be to that? What would Potter do then?” She gulped thickly but the lump, which had suddenly got lodged in her throat, wouldn’t shift. Normally, the thought of death didn’t bother her, she knew that danger followed Harry like a shadow and she had just accepted it over the years, but now that it was right in front of her she was terrified of the possibility.

“You wouldn’t,” he inclined his head, “You need me too much, to get to Harry, to get vital information. You know somewhere that you could break me so what would killing me accomplish?” The feeling of the wand on her temple didn’t lessen. She didn’t know what else to do to avoid death. Would the Wizarding World miss her? When the information, that Hermione Granger was dead, would spread through like wildfire, would her friends mourn? What would Harry, Ron, the Weasley’s and all of their friends do without her? She buried those thoughts to the back of her mind. She willed herself to accept it. If she was to die in that moment, at the hand of Lord Voldemort, then so be it.

“Avada – “ he sang into her ear and then stopped and chuckled. “No, I don’t need you mudblood, you see I will kill Potter with or without your help and I love seeing the image of the look on his face when he sees your dead body in front of him. Beaten, broken, dead.” He laughed darkly “But not today,” the wand left its position on her head and he swiftly turned to face the door again. “No, I’ll leave you to the hands of Bellatrix; maybe I’ll leave a chunk of you to the blood thirsty wolf, or pass you around my Death Eaters. I will break you Miss Granger,” her name sounded so wrong on his lips, it was disgusting to hear and then there was the promise of what was going to come. Hermione shuddered violently and screamed in terror inwardly. Voldemort smirked as he left the room. Hermione was alone. She was alone and yet she was still afraid, afraid of the nothingness, of the possibilities.

It seemed that hours had passed, they didn’t but time sluggishly passed for Hermione. The darkness held her in an uncomforting embrace; the layers of darkness frightened her, annoyed her and hid her tears. She silently cried. Her heart pounded, her blood raced through her veins and her body started to throb from the many crucio’s. Her arm ached and she knew that the carved word marred her pale skin. It unnerved her. But nothing unnerved her more then not knowing what was to come. All of her life she had some control, what to do, what to know, what to find out but here she controlled nothing, knew nothing and she could do nothing.

She didn’t want to sleep. She knew that sleep would be ruined by twisted versions of the future, she had had nightmares along those lines many a time – a world under Voldemort’s rule, of people getting slaughtered, of torture in the streets all in the name of purifying a race being led by a man who was betraying his own laws – but she knew now that it would be a lot more intense. She would also see Harry and Ron’s faces and her heart would break again and she would yearn to be with them. Imagining that would take her mind away from this nightmare but it would only hurt her more emotionally, and torture would always be on the fore front of her mind. Her tired eyes started to imagine some gruesome shapes. The darkness would form into ghastly monsters and she would shy away from nothing but the twisted forms of her mind.

At some point food was pushed through the door. Hermione could see it but strength evaded her. At another point a woman descended the stairs; she picked up the food and the jug of water and made her way to the heap, which was Hermione. The woman smoothed back the sweaty hair and raised the jug to her lips, water slipped down her throat, it was a godsend but she couldn’t express her gratitude in the simple pleasure. Forkfuls of food passed her lips and the woman made sure that she kept them down. The food was tasteless filth but her stomach would thank her later if she didn’t lose it. When the rations were finished the woman laid her down on a worn mattress that had been installed when the girl had been unconscious and moved her in a comfortable enough position. The woman’s dainty hands bypassed the shackle that had been chained around one wrist, just below one of the cuts that Bellatrix had made. The woman sighed and left. 

Hermione’s eyes stared unseeing for a while. At a later point Bellatrix came with her cackle and proceeded with her version of ‘fun’.

Her screams echoed through the house. They haunted him. 

 

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