Author: Silly Little Sparrow PM
Voldemort wants Hermione on his side, but of course she refuses. It is harder, however, to refuse the knowledge he and Lucius offer. My first fanfic!Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - Hermione G. & Lucius M. - Chapters: 19 - Words: 36,402 - Reviews: 110 - Favs: 77 - Follows: 105 - Updated: 06-22-09 - Published: 12-18-08 - id: 4725029
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Not mine, unfortunately
A giant THANKS to those who reviewed last chapter!!
Christmas was around the corner. Thinking Hermione had merely taken ill, the Hogwarts staff had excused her from end of term examinations. "It's not a matter of achieving passing grades, anyway," Professor Vector had said to Harry. "For Hermione, exams are really just there to give her something to do. Like a hobby, as it were..." McGonagall had chortled at that, and Harry joined in. Deception came more easily to him, now that he was practicing.
Hermione had called them "Mind Games". In reality, there was more to it than that: Harry did exercises on facial expressions, isolating each of the muscles and strengthening it, so that he might have complete control. He devoured manuscripts on body language and psychology, Muggle and Wizarding alike. And Harry began experimenting on the other students and professors around him, changing their moods, beliefs, and actions, all in a subtle progression, without their knowledge.
He might have felt sickened with himself, in another time. Sickened by his manipulations, the falsities and half-truths which came from his mouth. But there was no room for that now; in a world of treachery and insincerity, Harry couldn't afford to trust too many people. So he observed them instead, always seeking for potential recruits. Some--a precious few--had real talent, and he marked them in his mind as possibilities. Most were unacceptable for various reasons, so Harry dismissed them from his thoughts, discouraged and grim, wanting more than anything else to rest.
But he kept on searching. It was vital that he succeed. He, Lucius, and Bellatrix had discussed the incident with the demon while Hermione was unconscious, and then again when she awoke. "It was Hermione who defeated him," the fair man had said. "I didn't do much. The demon wanted her, wanted her power, her darkness. And I thought she would give herself to him..."
Bellatrix put her hand over his, comfortingly, and Harry had realized how intimate their relationship must be. "Something stopped her, though. Something important," she had said. Lucius turned to look at her, and with that quiet exchange, he had relaxed.
From Lucius' narrative, Harry pieced a story together. After the demon had appeared, Hermione, sensing the danger, somehow created a shield, a bubble that enveloped the pair. Lucius' magic seemed to have little or no effect on the demon, but the shield seemed to be effective enough. "Like her magic could work with the demon's," Lucius said. "It was...compatible." Harry had shivered at the words. After the demon spoke with the girl--"So possessively, so...provocatively," Lucius had shuddered--Hermione had moved closer, almost touching the demon, when she suddenly turned back to Lucius, shielded him, and fell into a faint.
It was at that point when the demon's mask disappeared. He had screamed, face contorting, eyes crimson. "The sheer power of his anger," Lucius had remarked. "I could feel it thrumming in my bones." But the demon had vanished then. "Well, not exactly," Lucius rubbed his chin. "It was as though he was being pulled back, somehow. He tried to reach me, even through the shield, but he couldn't. Something...who knows what. Whatever it was, it made him disappear."
They had all looked at each other. It was disquieting, how little they actually knew.
"Well," said Bellatrix, expression dark. "Now we research as much as we can."
"I think I've found something," Hermione said. They were in the Library in Malfoy Manor, and though she was still weak, Hermione had insisted on doing some research.
Bellatrix looked up from the scroll she was studying. "Something good?"
"Maybe," Hermione shrugged. "There's a magic for emotion."
"Some sort of spell?" Lucius asked. He was perched primly on the squashy chair by the fireplace, golden-pale hair tied out of his face. The look exposed his strong jawline, the gentle curve of his neck.
"No. More like a...a branch of magic. But it's not on the curriculum at Hogwarts, and I've never even heard of it." She looked quizzically at the man, but he only frowned.
"What's it called?"
"They're known as the..." She paused at the pronunciation. "The Praegasi Effusium." Skimming down the page, she added, "And they can control emotions, in themselves and others. Some have been known to be Truthseers, as well." Hermione wrinkled her nose. "Who are they?"
"It's an old division of magic," said Bella, perking up. "I did some research on them a few years back. Simply put, the Truthseer can look into the soul of a person. They see beyond illusion, beyond the smokey veil of our world, and hone in on the essence of something."
"Truthseers. People who see the Truth. Apt name," Lucius quipped dryly. "I suspect they make excellent detectives."
Bellatrix shot him an exasperated look, but Hermione grinned. They made a good team, the three of them; Bellatrix was all intensity and fervor, whereas Lucius knew the best--the healthiest--scientific methods of study, taking small breaks in between periods of study. And I...I have a bit of both in me. It was true, though Hermione was more like Bellatrix than she knew.
"In any case," Hermione said before Bellatrix could reprimand the smirking man, "What I'm curious to know is how the Dark Lord is reacting to all this."
She saw Bella and Lucius stiffen, as they generally did when Hermione brought up Voldemort. The man hadn't requested to see her since her stay at Malfoy Manor, and Hermione got the sense that both Bella and Lucius hoped it would stay that way. But she couldn't be sure. They were each highly gifted masters of control, and their features had remained impassive...yet that in itself told Hermione that something was up. And she was determined to find out what.
Lucius spoke first. "He's responded to your progress well, Hermione. He likes what you've accomplished thus far."
"He's not loving our contact with the Order members, it's true," Bellatrix chimed in. "But we think he accepts it as a necessary measure."
"I don't get it," Hermione stood, and began to pace around the table. "Why hasn't he tried to contact me? And I know you're all hiding something. Just tell me--what?"
"It's difficult for the Dark Lord to contact you while you're at Hogwarts, Hermione, " said Bella. "The Wards recognize him as a threat."
"So?" She asked. "You and Lucius got in fine." Hermione stopped and put her hands on her hips. "You've got to give me some answers."
Lucius sighed, rubbing his temples. "Fair enough." He took a breath. "Belle and I could enter the castle undetected simply because our intent was solely to assist you, a Hogwarts student. That, combined with small magics--Disillusionment spells and so forth--allowed us to slip beyond the Wards."
"Voldemort, on the other hand," said Bellatrix, moving from her seat to stand in front of Hermione. "Cannot enter. The Bloodlust is in him too deeply for it to be controlled easily; the moment he slipped, just for an instant, alarms would go off immediately. And that, Hermione, is a risk he isn't willing to take."
"Even to contact you," Lucius put in. "Too dangerous. Hogwarts isn't quite as fond of him as it used to be."
Hermione was too intent on the conversation to catch the strange words. "But still, I'm here now, away from Hogwarts. Why doesn't he see me?"
Bellatrix exchanged a look with Lucius over Hermione's shoulder. "We can...arrange a meeting, if you like," she began slowly.
But Lucius was shaking his head. "No. That is not going to happen, Belle. We agreed--"
"Agreed what?" Hermione turned to Lucius, eyes searching. "I'm going to find out, one way or the other." She reminded them. She saw Lucius close his eyes, jaw clenched.
"Fine." His voice was clipped. "I'll see to arranging a meeting now." He headed for the door. "But we'll be there with you." He looked at Bella meaningfully before striding out of the room, robes swishing angrily behind him.
Hermione slumped back into her seat. "What did I do? I had thought we..." She trailed off, nearly in tears.
"What did you think, Hermione?" Bellatrix asked gently. She sank onto the chair next to the girl, keeping her hand on Hermione's shoulder.
The girl shook her head, looking down. "I just...I thought after that thing with the demon, and all we've been through--that is, we've...we've been equals, haven't we? I mean, he gives me instruction and teaching, but..."
"But?" The woman's features were perfectly still, perfectly serene. She ran her hand through Hermione's curls.
The young witch's voice was barely audible, so Bella leaned forward. "Why doesn't he tell me what's happening with Voldemort. Why don't you tell me? I don't understand."
Bellatrix hesitated, looking pensive, and Hermione studied the older witch. She was blindingly beautiful, really, quite striking with her dark tumbling hair and fair skin. And even now, lost in thought, the woman was poised, back and neck straight, features controlled. Just who I wish I could be, Hermione thought. The kind of lady I...I admire most.
Hermione touched Bella's hand, which was still in her hair. "Bellatrix?"
She blinked, as though coming out of a trance. "Ah, yes. Hermione." Bella moved her hands away. She began carefully, as though choosing her words with extraordinary precision. "I think Lucius is--we both are, really--concerned with the Dark Lord's interest in you." Her voice was strange then, almost unsure. "Voldemort...he hungers for power. Your power specifically, mind you, and he--" Bella seemed to be searching for the correct language--"He can be...intense, where you're involved."
"What?" The girl said, confused. "What does that mean?"
"It means what it means," said Bellatrix abruptly. "It is enough that Lucius and I will attend this meeting." She stood, and touched Hermione's hand again. "For now, I think you should eat some lunch. I'll have Sqeek prepare something for you..."
She headed out of the room, leaving Hermione sitting at the table. What was going on?
Lucius had contacted the Dark Lord via a speech spell, and arranged a meeting for the next morning. With that out of the way, the man Apparated to the dueling room, where he knew he could find Vardon Sharain. He had another errand to complete.
It wasn't too hard to find him. Sharain was there, polishing his wand by the fountain. He had refused the conventional wizard's robes, preferring instead a simple pair of loose black pants, which set off the bronze of his skin. The well-defined muscles in his arms and stomach rippled as he worked, full lips pursed in concentration.
"Sharain." Lucius said, cordially enough. "I'd like a word."
The boy looked up. Seeing Lucius, his lip curled minutely, almost impossible to detect. "Lord Malfoy. How can I help you?"
"Hermione told me of your supper. I trust you enjoyed yourself?"
Sharain leaned back against the wall, folding his arms. "Yes," he said lazily. "Yes, I suppose we did."
"Hermione seems to like you. She believes you to be a firm friend?" A hint of danger curled subtly into his voice.
"Of course." Sharain seemed unperturbed. He stretched his arms, exposing his chest and neck to the man. "How could you think otherwise?"
Lucius refused to rise to the bait. He used wordless, wandless magic to press Sharain against the wall, trapping him. The boy lost his nonchalance, turning quickly to anger. The man sneered. "Hermione is under my protection. The moment I sense you at your little...games, I will take you out. Believe me." His face was stone, eyes hard and sharp as flint.
Sharain mustered a snarl. "You underestimate me, Lucius. I know Hermione isn't a toy to be played with once, then discarded." He pulled himself from the wall. "I will have her, power and all, and there's nothing you can do to stop me."
Lucius looked down at the boy, disdain etched into his features. "I think you'll find there is much I can do, boy. Don't test me." He turned his back to Sharain, making to leave.
The boy struck out impulsively, just as Lucius knew he would. The man turned and caught his fist mid-punch, and dispatched the boy with a swift jab to the side. He twisted Sharain's arm, just enough to let the boy know he meant business.
He leaned close. "I warned you. Think I'm not watching all you like. But it won't work, you see. Because I will always, always keep an eye on you, Sharain."
Lucius left him there, grimacing in pain on the floor.
Hermione wandered through the gardens. It was evening, and she hadn't seen Lucius since their conversation in the Library earlier that day. She wore dark pants and an emerald jumper, with a matching set of hat and gloves, and a grey coat. The flowers had withered completely by now with the frost, but the Manor Grounds were still beautiful. The place was truly massive, with it's own stables and armory and keep. The towers and turrets of the manse loomed high above her, the stone appearing dark against the setting sun. It was home to Hermione, as much as her parent's house in London.
Perhaps more so.
She hadn't been to London since that summer, and so much had passed since then...it was so strange, looking back at her life before. Ron had been alive, and both Hermione and Harry had been close with the Weasleys. They still were dear, she supposed, but it was different. There was distance between them, and neither party had attempted to bridge it.
There was distance between most of the Hogwarts students and Hermione, too. She tutored them occasionally, or helped them with their small problems. But she had changed; Hermione had seen and felt things of a depth they hadn't even imagined, so they couldn't identify with her. To them, Hermione was one to be respected, admired, envied. She could offer them advice, teach them a spell, but never confide in them. They all looked up to her, without even knowing who she really was.
It made her want to scream.
And now Lucius was being distant. There were things he kept from her, she knew. He had secrets, as they all did. It was as it should be. Except where it concerned Hermione. What is there about the Dark Lord that he doesn't want me to know? Her conversation with Bellatrix had raised more questions than it answered. Of course Voldemort was attracted to her power. She knew that from the beginning. Maybe that's all it is. Lucius doesn't want him to use me...
She was distracted from her musings by a figure lying in the grass.
"Elena?" She breathed. She hadn't seen the woman since her training with Lucius. "What're you doing here?"
She sat up, smoothing the folds of her skirt. "Ah, Hermione! I've missed you..." Elena stretched her arms for a hug. "Oh, it's been so long! Come, sit here with me." She pulled the girl down. "Now tell me what you've been up to. Why are you tromping about, looking all distressed and morose?"
"Well..." Hermione hesitated. She looked at the woman beside her. Elena peered back at her with grey eyes, and smiled gently, so gently, that Hermione sighed. "Alright. But it's going to take a while..."
Elena winked. "Well I think I have more than a while." Her gaze never once moved from Hermione's face as she waited, twirling a miraculously preserved violet between long fingers.
Alone in the night, deep in the blackness, An-Ombar hunts. He needs to feed, since the fair-haired man he had intended for a little snack decided to be difficult. And the girl...his own little Necromancer not only rejected him, but rebelled against his wishes, and shielded the man? Impossible. Unacceptable. It's only a matter of time before she submits, he knows. But demons weren't made to wait.
The prey he's been stalking moves closer, blithely unaware of the danger he's in. He is a portly man, well past forty, and balding. An-Ombar steps out, unveiling his presence. The little man catches sight of him and stops. Begins to back away, uncertain of what he's seeing. The demon gives a toothy grin, enjoying the scent of the man's fear, the perspiration starting to form on his brow. The little man freezes.
An-Ombar glides up to him. With a finger her caresses the man's cheeks, watching the flabby cheeks pale.
"Wh--what..." The man asks. The fear in him is so ripe, so delicious, that An-Ombar moves closer still.
"Shh, shh." He croons, patting the man, massaging his shoulders. "Hush..."
The man is breathing heavily now, trembling severely. "Now you just..." he licks his lips, eyes twitching. "You just get out of here, before--"
An-Ombar knocks him to the ground, and kneels at his side, Slowly, and with infinite gentleness, he runs his long fingers down the man's cheeks, hearing the bones crack underneath. Blood begins to well out from the man's eyes, nose, mouth, and he manages a strangled scream.
Oh, An-Ombar breathes, transfixed at the blood, the naked fear. He drinks in the man's agony, the horror in his eyes. He smiles tenderly down at the man, before grabbing his foot and dragging him deeper into the forest.
Oh, this one will last him a while.
Eww. Well, demons are certainly nasty, sadistic creatures, aren't they? Thanks for reading, hugs to you all :-D