Author: uchiha.s PM
semi-historical AU with magic. After Draco purchases Hermione as his new concubine, she is thrown in the path of the new composer for the court, Voldemort. And soon she finds herself making a deal with the devil himself... TMR/HG/DMRated: Fiction M - English - Drama/Suspense - Hermione G. & Tom R. Jr. - Chapters: 13 - Words: 72,570 - Reviews: 440 - Favs: 329 - Follows: 549 - Updated: 10-19-12 - Published: 12-02-11 - id: 7601760
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: So... *taps fingers together* I admit it. This is not the last chapter. I am not even going to try to estimate how many chapters are left, because odds are I will be completely wrong.
note: There is a plot point in this chapter that is revealed that will leave some of you very, very pissed off at me. Please have faith in me; everything in this fic has happened for a reason. And, sometimes things that look cliche...well, just see for yourselves. *slinks off to hide from angry readers*
Now, brace yourselves: yes, I got a beta. She has done beta work for me before for other fandoms and was kind enough to work her magic on this chapter as well, since I am trying to improve. Special thanks to the insanely talented wingedmercury for beta-ing this and listening to me whine about this fic with endless patience. If any of you read Naruto fanfic, or just are interested in reading stuff with original plotlines and avant garde voice, check her out. Seriously, she is writing an entire fic in second-person, and it's the best use of 2nd person I've ever seen, in both original novels and fanfiction.
Also BIG thanks to everyone who reviewed the last chapter, because you guys are just plain BAMFs: Clyde Mordia, solussword, Princess Chelcy, Chamilia Lutien Tinuviel, Auburn, Shubhs, Annevader, Anguis Intrepidus, Night's Warrior, NargleWatch, BeNeRe, lunapeacock, roon0, voldemort. likes. kittens, Lady Riddle-Black, throwing rocks, Kissable-Luxury, riddle1rave, BlackShirt16, WannaLove, Elspethe, SamarKanda, AmazingMe123, A. Deca , wingedmercury, DArk 16EtErnIty z8, m0nt, vamp1987, sugurrushx3, LittleHellCat, moor, Que9, MeriLynelle, bailey vicious, Speechwriter, ShadowAngel55, cocoartist, FiOnAFiO, Beloveddreamer, and Sin-and-Smokin.
Disclaimer: the HP universe does not belong to me; I am just borrowing.
Act Ten: Rubato
"You've done well, Draco," cooed Narcissa, her bony fingers stroking his blond head. The torches flickered around the windowless room; a draft hit Draco's face as King Grindelwald continued to pace back and forth before him furiously. His elegant cloaks and robes swirled around him, the jewels sewn into the cloak glittering in the dim light.
"You are positive you saw him, boy?" demanded Grindelwald suddenly, turning on the Malfoys, who were hunched in the corner of this room. They all jumped slightly at his urgency. His fury had infused new life into his decrepit features; never had a king looked more formidable and regal than Grindelwald appeared now. His blue eyes were piercing; his strong German features seemed to come alive through the sagging, lined skin. His magic, so powerful, so awe-inspiring, was sparking in the air around him, causing the flames in the torches to roar higher — too high to be safe. Draco felt perspiration slide down his neck and drip onto his silk collar.
"Y-yes, your majesty," he choked, kneeling hastily, his palms and knees scuffing against the grimy stone floor.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. When Draco had done himself up in his finest coat and largest wig and returned to King Grindelwald's throne room, he had stupidly expected congratulations from the King. He had conjectured that perhaps Grindelwald might offer him some sort of advising position, and his name would've gone down in had even entertained the possibility that Grindelwald might have been so impressed by his obvious loyalty and named him as the next heir to the throne.
Instead they'd been trapped in this tiny, cramped, dank room for hours while Grindelwald made cryptic orders to people that Draco had never seen before. If they're so important, why haven't they been to any of the balls?he thought with snide resentment. But there was little point to contemplating it; he and his parents were as good as hostages now of Grindelwald. He was beginning to tremble slightly as the urge to urinate became overwhelming, but he dared not ask Grindelwald if he could be excused to relieve himself.
"You are positive that it was him?"
"I-I'd b-bet my life on it, your H-highness."
Grindelwald swept up to tower over him. He was dark, silhouetted by the crackling flames behind him. Only his blue eyes were glittering and sparking, much like the flames themselves. A sneer was beginning to curve his lips. Draco was starting to understand how this man could have taken control of Hogsmeade; he had never been more terrified in his life. His blood was thumping in his ears like war drums.
"Funny. I'll hold you to your word on that," he said coolly. Draco swallowed the bile rising in his throat.
Rodolphus, Aunt Bellatrix's husband, swaggered into the room. He was looking amused, but the stony look on Grindelwald's face wiped away his brutish smirk at once. Rodolphus dropped into a deep bow.
"Your Majesty," he began, his hand over his heart, "the Blood Traitors have reformed the Order."
"What a surprise, Lestrange. Are you going to next inform me that it is snowing outside?" Grindelwald replied tartly. Draco's eyes darted between the two men. The Order? What is the Order?
"E-er, your Majesty, it is all the same members as before. I have not heard from Lady Lestrange yet."
"Oh, I'm sure Bellatrix is a fair match for Severus," said Grindelwald mildly. "At least she will require no backup. Unless Albus is there...then there will be a bit of a problem," he added. He rounded on Rodolphus again. "Fetch Ariana," he ordered feverishly. Rodolphus scrambled to his feet and with an oily utterance of his permanent allegiance, scuttled down the dark corridor.
Ariana? Who was Ariana? A sense of awful dread whose origin he could not place was filling like lead at the pit of his stomach. There was something horrible about the name Ariana — not the name itself, but somehow it conveyed to Draco a sense that something horrific was soon to take place.
Fear gripped Hermione, nearly rooting her to the spot, as Dumbledore and Snape each darted for the door with no hesitation. Dumbledore was surprisingly sprightly, but Snape reached the splintered remains first and blasted them out of the way. The others hastened to look out the door into the snowy night. The bitter wind rushed in, clawing at their faces; the end of winter always seemed to bring the harshest snows.
It was unmistakably a woman's figure; her black cloak was flapping behind her like smoke.
"Lady Lestrange," Snape remarked silkily, brandishing his wand. "Petrificus—" he began, raising his wand, but Bellatrix Disapparated at that moment in a whorl of smoke, a wild cackle emanating throughout the snow like a death rattle.
"How much did she hear?" Sirius wondered out loud as he lunged pointlessly into the swirling snow, mouth agape as he stared at where his cousin had Disapparated. A pang of something shot through Hermione and she turned to Voldemort, who seemed to have the exact same realization as she xhad hadx at the very same time.
"Potter, you might want to seek out the mother of your child," said Voldemort coolly as he drew his wand. Harry went white as the snow surrounding him.
"Wh-what? Why Ginny?" he stammered.
"There is every likelihood that Lady Lestrange heard your good news, Harry," said Hermione, trying in vain to keep the rising hysteria she was experiencing out of her voice. "We've got togo. Come on," she choked, grasping Harry's arm.
"You might not have heard, Potter, but Bella has a certain hobby to occupy her time when she isn't performing," explained Voldemort. "In fact, if not for your Pureblooded father, you would have perished by this hobby of hers."
"S-she'd never hurt a Pureblood," stammered Harry, though Hermione could see he was panicking as well. "I've got to go to her," he added, his hands shaking. "Can I borrow someone's horse?"
Voldemort rounded on Hermione, a hint of a smile on his pale lips.
"Now might be a fine time to attempt Apparition...though if you miss your target spot, the consequences will be deadly," he mused. "But what is education without a little motivation?"
"This is hardly the time for joking," Hermione countered tartly. Still, Voldemort was right. She had seen others do it enough times; she knew the theory behind it. Without further hesitation, she darted over to Harry, who was sloshing through the snow towards Voldemort's dark horse. "Come on, Harry, there's no time," she said before grasping his arm. Visualize your target, she told herself, recalling the Apparition lessons she had seen her various masters undergo. Hermione pictured the Burrow, though it broke her heart to do it. The last time she'd been there, she had been humiliated by the agony of the loss of the man she had mistakenly thought she'd loved. It wouldn't do to become emotional; it would hurt her chances of a successful Apparition. Turn on the spot...
Still clutching Harry's arm, she turned them on the spot, and they disappeared into the night air with a sharp crack.
"Looks like it's beginning in earnest now," observed Severus as the remaining men looked between each other. Tom schooled his features to give nothing of himself away before he spoke.
"Now what?" he asked the group at large. Severus scoffed loudly.
"As if you really need an answer to that, Voldemort."
With a sigh, Dumbledore heralded them all back into Severus' home and conjured a new door.
"Can Harry's friend really hold off Bellatrix?" Remus asked, frowning. Now it was Tom's turn to scoff.
"I assure you that Sirius will not be getting his cousin back in one piece when Lady Granger is finished with her," he said with a smirk. The looks of fear on Sirius and Remus' faces was most satisfying. "We need not worry about her."
"Without a wand, though?" Remus pressed. "She seemed such a lovely girl. I wouldn't want her to—"
"He does not jest, Lupin. Bellatrix is not much of a challenge for her," interrupted Severus dismissively. "Forget about her and the boy for now. We have bigger problems at hand."
"We'll need a group to storm Hogwarts,"said Dumbledore thoughtfully as he checked a timepiece that hung from a delicate silver chain round his neck. "I suppose I shall call the others?"
"That would be prudent," said Snape, "I imagine we have very little time left before Grindelwald calls forward the Inferi. No doubt he's already been alerted." Snape cast a wary glance at his new door. "I would say I'm confident that he's had no spies overhearing what we've said, but if Bellatrix could breach my wards, his spies will have done better, for certain..."
"Then there's no time. Dumbledore — call together the Order. We can't storm the castle without them," said Sirius, pounding his fist against one of the wooden cabinets for emphasis. Tom masked a smirk at how Severus winced when his precious phials jiggled inside the case from the force.
"I suppose I ought to call my friends," sighed Remus with great reluctance. He turned to Tom with a pointed stare. "I'll be needing your help — you're on better terms with Greyback than I am."
Tom held his tongue; now was an inappropriate time to remark on how they had once scorned him for his connections, and yet now they didn't bat a moral eyelash when requesting that he make use of them. After all, they had to trust him now, and they never would if he let his temper get the better of him. Still, it was so tempting to teach Remus Lupin to never sneer at his followers ever again; he fought the urge to brandish his wand. Pasting on a complacent expression, he nodded his assent.
"Very well. Severus?" Dumbledore turned a questioning gaze to Snape, who was already donning one of his heavy black cloaks.
"You know where I must go," he replied with a grimace. Like Bellatrix, Severus Disapparated in a whorl of smoke.
"Then Sirius, come with me," ordered Dumbledore. Dumbledore's famous silent Apparition was followed by the harsh crack of Sirius' Apparition. Tom took a moment to relish the pride of having seen Hermione Apparate on her first try, but naturally, he had not been surprised. She was just like him in so many ways, after all...
He just needed to find a way to call her back to him soon; her biggest part in his plot was yet to come.
When they landed outside of the Burrow, it was on shaky feet. They both gasped as Hermione looked over them both in wonder.
"H-how the hell did you do that without a wand, Hermione?" demanded Harry breathlessly. His hands were still clutching his knees as they each attempted to steady themselves. Pride rushed through her in waves; she wished Voldemort had been there so she could see and relish his reaction to her wandless apparition. No doubt he would have tried to hide how pleased with her he was...
"I just sort of...did it. I'm not sure," she admitted, trying hard to not look too pleased with herself. Now was not the time for congratulatory self-gloating; they had to ensure that Ginny was okay.
From the outside, the Burrow looked as it always did. Both Hermione and Harry looked around at the rather still street. Nothing looked out of place; it didn't look like Bellatrix had been here yet.
Cautiously, still anticipating the worst, Harry and Hermione entered the mansion. It had grown even shabbier than when Hermione had been courting Ron in secret; it was all too easy to pry open the creaking wooden front door. Her stomach churned in fear, even though she imagined that, had Bellatrix reached here first, they'd know it.
Harry went forward first with little trepidation, and Hermione followed him inside. Respect for her friend flooded her and she blinked back tears, imagining how he was probably feeling right now. The fact that he could open the doors with such a steady hand was incredible to her.
They stood in one of the second-floor parlors, mostly empty save for a shabby carpet and a few pieces of worn tapestried furniture. She'd always liked this room, however, because the row of enormous windows wrapped around, giving the impression that they were sitting on the clouds.
The silence buzzed in the air; they continued to explore for what felt like ages, but the Burrow appeared entirely empty. The fear that had been pounding and bubbling in her throat now seemed to sink like a stone to the pit of her stomach as she came to the realization that, very likely, Bellatrix had already lured the Weasleys away from the house somehow.
Harry seemed to come to the same conclusion, because suddenly, the windows surrounding them exploded, sending shards of glass everywhere. Hermione did not dare reach a comforting hand out to her friend. She stared at his back. The respect she had felt just minutes ago dissolved as she realized he had been simply letting his rage and fear build up inside of him.
"They can't have gone far, Harry," she said in what was meant as a soothing voice. Unfortunately, her nerves shook her and the nausea that had been plaguing her recently came back. She pressed her lips together, hoping the urge to vomit would pass. In spite of the frigid night air now coming in through the broken windows like unbidden ghosts, perspiration was sliding down her neck, matting her hair to her scalp uncomfortably, gathering on her palms. The bile was rising and she swayed a bit.
When Harry turned to her again, his eyes were dry, but he was pale as death.
"D'you think you could manage that wandless Apparition again?" His laugh was callous and hollow. At the moment, Hermione wasn't sure she could have managed walking down the stairs, but in spite of everything she simply nodded, trying not to nod too vigorously lest she worsen the nausea. "We'll try the stocks first, I guess," he thought aloud, raking a trembling hand through his hair. "She's got to be alright still. There just isn't enough time for that woman to have —"
"Stop, Harry. We'll find her." Hermione greedily took in deep breaths of the cold air, trying to steady herself. When the nausea had passed, she took his arm again. "Ready?"
Harry didn't respond; she turned them on the spot.
They Apparated to the stocks, but they were abandoned and empty. The city was silent; it certainly did not feel like all of this chaos was actually occurring. Hermione considered Apparating them back to Snape's home, but decided that was a poor choice. Harry insisted that she return to Malfoy Manor; if they had already discovered she was gone, they'd be looking for her, and she'd be hanged or killed by the Killing Curse as punishment. Reluctant to leave her friend, but seeing his point, she hastily Apparated back to her room at Malfoy Manor.
Hermione had been bracing herself for an attack, as she was still unsure of whether Bellatrix had seen her in Snape's home, but the manor was deathly silent when she returned. For a moment, she pressed her ear to the door, trying vainly to still her frantic panting enough to hear properly. She waited until she was positive she could not hear anyone moving about nearby.
Cautiously, Hermione crept out into the corridor, muscles tense and body poised to attack, defend, or Apparate at the first sign of trouble.
But Malfoy Manor appeared to be completely empty. In the stillness, the hairs rose on the back of her neck. She strained her ears to hear as she continued along the hall, but she heard no voices.
Were the Malfoys asleep, or out? She did not want to risk going to their wing of the manor only to be caught creeping around at night, but if they were gone, it was probably because they had been notified by Bellatrix... She passed by Voldemort's chambers and, overcome with a feeling she could not place, she went inside.
Her stomach gave another lurch and Hermione dropped down onto the piano bench, her fingers ghosting over the icy white keys. She let out a shuddering breath as tears pricked at the corners of her eyes: why was she crying? She blinked rapidly to halt the onset, but they would not stop. She could not stop thinking of the windows shattering around Harry as he thought of his unborn child; she could not stop from wondering if she would live to see the sunrise; she could not stop thinking of Voldemort's lovely hands on these very keys.
"S-stop crying," she whimpered to herself, in what had been intended as a stern tone but came out as little more than a whine. The tears were streaming down her cheeks now as the nausea made the room spin. Perhaps she was ill, and perhaps it didn't matter if she was killed by the Malfoys or not. Perhaps she would simply die from illness.
Sick and scared, she rose to her feet and crawled to Voldemort's bed. She wished he were here. It felt weak and foolish to wish for him, for he could not save her, but she couldn't find the energy to fight against it. When she settled on the blankets, the musky scent of his skin rose up around her and was more comforting than it ought to have been; Hermione buried her face in his pillow and inhaled deeply, relieved when the flow of tears was staunched.
Perhaps her comfort was because she had come to view Voldemort as her only escape; her only lifeline in a world that was otherwise hauntingly lonely. When he had entered her life, the isolation she had felt for as long as she could recall had come to a screeching halt.
Even with Harry and Ron, it had never felt so intimate. She had loved them both in different ways but there had always been a degree of separation. Perhaps it was because Harry had been ensured a safe place, thanks to being purchased by the Weasleys, while her future had never been certain. Or perhaps she was just too different from them...Ron, with his complacency, could never understand her ambition. And Harry shone like a beacon of morality, whereas Hermione lately sensed a shadowy aspect to her own character, like the effigy of a monster stowed beneath a child's bed, peering out from the hem of the coverlet. Harry would never have stolen from a vendor; she had done it with little more than an instant's hesitation.
Yet with Voldemort, she could draw so many parallels between them that it was unnerving. The word 'soulmate' came to mind but he probably would have laughed hysterically at that — not only because Voldemort did not seem the type to hold much stock in such soft and humane concepts but also because he likely thought her to be far beneath him. He likely thought everyone was far beneath him.
Thus she lay there for a few moments, her eyes scrunched shut, and drew in deep, even breaths. Her fingers curled around the edge of the coverlet; clutching it closer to her, her other arm slung across her belly. The light pressure of the weight of her arm seemed to ease the nausea slightly.
I have to get out of here before someone discovers me here, she told herself wearily. It took a considerable amount of willpower just to rise from the bed. Feeling sentimental, she strode to the piano, whereupon lay several scratched out copies of a composition entitled Lacrimosa. Notes were scrawled in Voldemort's elegant hand, and she stole one of the copies that looked most marked-up and edited. It was wrong to steal, but her desire to have some piece of him close to her overrode any morality she had left. Hermione folded the parchment and slid it in the neckline of her dress, where it now rested over her heart.
The slam of the front entry startled her and she Apparated back to her room, not risking being seen rushing back along the corridor. The Apparition had reinforced her nausea, and she stumbled over to the chamber pot in the corner, clutching the sides. Her unruly hair fell around her flushed face as the bile rose and she emptied the meager contents of her stomach in several miserable heaves.
Her grip tightened on the rim of the basin just as the door opened. For an instant she prayed it might be Voldemort, but she realized now how foolish that hope had been. There was an uprising; he would not be returning to Malfoy Manor any time soon.
It was Madame Umbridge, her eyes aglow with something unrecognizable.
"Lady Mudblood," she mocked in a syrupy voice, stepping inside. Hermione wiped her mouth on her wrist, feeling marginally better now that she'd vomited. But what was Umbridge doing in here? "Sick again? Been sick quite often lately? All the maids have been talking about how they hear you retching early in the morning," she continued loftily.
Was she pleased that Hermione was clearly ill and, as Mudbloods were never given any healing, would likely die from whatever this illness was? Hermione frowned. They could have killed her long ago; why would Umbridge find such pleasure in her being ill?
"Yes. I've been coming down with something recently," she said carefully, her voice raspy from how her bile had burned her throat with its acid. Umbridge burst into shrill, silvery laughter that shot straight up Hermione's spine.
"Oh, you poor silly little Mudblood," she said sweetly, batting her lashes. "You really don't know?"
Had Umbridge poisoned her? Hermione felt the blood drain from her formerly flushed face. Was she dying due to poisoning? How humiliating. After all her dark thoughts of Umbridge's stupidity, the woman was going to get the better of her?
"You poisoned me?" she whispered, rising to her feet. Well, if she were going to die anyway, she was determined to pay Umbridge back. In spades. And she had more than a few Hexes in mind. But Umbridge did nothing more than let out another girlish giggle that was strictly at odds with her toadish countenance.
"Oh, no, Mudblood. I'd never dream of doing such a horrible thing! That would be damaging Master Malfoy's property! But I admit that I may have been forgetting the contraceptive herbs in your tea..." she clapped a pudgy little hand over her mouth in mock-embarrassment. "Oops!"
Hermione couldn't breathe. She had lost the ability to draw breath. She could not be pregnant. The world spun around her, but this time it was from pure shock.
"I-it's impossible," she stammered finally, wishing desperately that she knew the exact charm for determining pregnancy. Umbridge shrugged and withdrew her wand.
"Let's see, shall we?"
Hermione had seen this charm enough times before in action to know what it looked like. The yellow glow that was cast in the air around her was confirmation, and it felt about the same as a deadbolt being slammed in place on a cast-iron door.
She was doomed.
Umbridge let out a ponderous sigh. "I do hope Lady Lestrange doesn't hear of this. Her hobby is not one you will find enjoyable, I am sorry to say." The way her piggy little eyes glittered said otherwise. "Why don't you lie down? Your masters will return soon."
Hermione stood stock-still, not reacting openly to the humiliating insinuation of 'your masters' as Umbridge left; she heard the lock click in place and, had she not been so purely horrified she would have laughed at the audacity of Umbridge to think that a silly little lock would stop her from leaving if she were so inclined.
With legs like lead, Hermione went to the bed and sat down. She had to think; she had to come up with a plan. If she didn't...a fate far worse than death awaited her.