CONTENT WARNINGS: THIS FIC IS DARK. M rating is for scenes of violence & possibly disturbing themes or imagery.
Extended Summary: Voldemort fell, yet the light suffered too many losses to claim victory. Believing their son dead, the Malfoys cling to the only other thing to give their life meaning: power, and take advantage of their Lord's defeat, claiming leadership over the dark.
The loss of Ron and Ginny makes Harry desperate to rescue Hermione, kidnapped by one deranged, obsessed werewolf, before she's torn from his life, as well. After finding her, and learning what Fenrir has forced upon her, he seeks out the only Death Eater who might help him find a cure.
That is, as long as his instincts are right, and the fact that Draco's body was never found means he's still alive.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Harry Potter, or any affiliated characters, and make no money from the creation or publication of this story.
The Failing of the Light
Hermione screamed, thrashing her legs, but Fenrir held her easily, one hand pinning her wrists above her head. Clamping her lips together, she angled her gaze to the unicorn, fallen beside her.
His terrifying words from only a few minutes earlier—had this really all happened so quickly—echoed through her skull. Not spoken to her, about her, as though she was not even present.
Like she was an object.
"Bellatrix said I could have her. Well, now I'm making good on that."
He held her by a hand gripped into her hair, so tight she thought he might tear her scalp from her head. Each time she attempted to move, he gave her a quick, yet violent, shake. If only he hadn't gotten close enough to snap her wand in two, but he'd sneaked up behind her during the last moments of battle. She never had a chance to react.
The wizard, whose name she did not know, only smirked, his gaze flicking over Fenrir's prize. "Whatever are you going to do with her?"
Hermione tried to turn her head, to look around. The werewolf responded instantly, shaking her again and she screamed behind clenched teeth.
"I'm going to turn her into my pet."
If she hadn't already been trembling from pain and exhaustion, she was certain his tone, a stomach-turning mix of joy and savagery, would have sent a new jolt of shivers through her.
"Going to bite her, are you?"
Fenrir chuckled. "Eventually." He leaned close pressing his face against the side of her throat and inhaling deeply. That this made her scream again only drew another laugh from him. "I'm going to make sure she's good and broken, first. I'm going to make her—" he shook her once more, enjoying the sound of her cries—"dependent on me. She's going to think I'm her whole world when I'm done with her."
The wizard stepped closer, trailing the tip of a finger down her cheek. "Well," he said, amusement lacing his words as she cringed at his touch, "this is one is feisty. How you gonna break her without killing her or driving her too mad?"
Fenrir glanced over his shoulder, into the depths of the Forbidden Forest. "I got an idea, don't you worry 'bout that."
A tear escaped, running cold along her temple as he reached over to cup his free hand beneath the dripping gash in the poor creature's throat.
"I don't know why you think this is going to do anything," she whispered, her words hurried and trembling as she tried to reason her way out of this. "Drinking unicorn blood only-only curses you if you killed the unicorn. You killed it, not me!"
He uttered another of his unsettling, bestial chuckles. "Natural magic's not that particular. If the unicorn has been slain for its blood, then the blood carries the curse. I am going to keep you alive until I chose to bite you, or kill you."
Hermione fought back a whimper as she let those words play through her head once, twice, looking for something, but her mind was too tired; she could barely think straight. She watched him pull his arm back, watched the glint of thick silver liquid draw nearer.
"And you will be grateful."
Folding her lips inward, she turned her head, eyes squeezing shut.
"C'mon pretty," Fenrir cooed mockingly, "open your mouth, or I'll make you open it."
Inhaling, deep and shuddering through her nostrils, she shook her head.
"Have it your way," he whispered.
The elation in his guttural voice horrified Hermione. He enjoyed the idea of having to force this upon her.
With a deep, growling chuckle, he lowered his head as he brought his cupped hand close to her mouth. "Oh, I'm going to have fun with you."
The feeling of Fenrir nuzzling his face against her breast made her skin crawl and she shivered in revulsion. He pressed so close that she could feel through the fabric of her shirt and bra as he opened his mouth against her.
He closed his jaw slowly, biting down on her. Her clothes would keep him from breaking her skin too soon, and he pressed his teeth down harder, and harder still.
Again she thrashed beneath him, muted whimpers working out of her throat. His teeth clenched around her, sending shocks of pain through her and she could no longer hold back a scream.
"No, no, Ron!" Harry pleaded in a whisper, shaking his best friend by the shirt. He'd dragged Ron away from the heart of the battle, out of harm's way, but now he worried that the very act of moving Ron had only hurried him toward death's door.
Ron opened his eyes slowly, the effort exhausting. "It's okay, Harry." His voice was low, but gentle. He sounded like an old man ready to impart wisdom, Harry thought. "We lost, that's all. We always . . ." He drew a ragged breath. "We always knew we might."
"It wasn't supposed to turn out like this," tears clogged Harry's throat, he was still reeling from watching Ginny's body hit the ground. "Voldemort's gone, we were supposed to . . . ." He didn't even know what to say; didn't know what was supposed to have happened instead, only that it shouldn't have been this.
His face pulling tight with pain, Ron slid something into Harry's fingers and then closed his hand around his friend's. "But it did turn out like this," he said softly, his eye drifting closed. "Hermione's still out there, somewhere. You have to find her."
Ron's fingers slipped away and Harry found himself holding the deluminator. "Ron, no," he said, shaking his head, unwilling to believe what was happening. "Please, you can't—"
"Promise me you'll find her."
Of course he'd find Hermione. He'd find her even if Ron wasn't asking . . . even if she wasn't the only one he had left, now.
Harry sniffled, lifting his gaze from the object in his hand to his friend's face. His friend's still, so suddenly lifeless face. Sinking his teeth deep into his bottom lip, his eyelids drifted down, forcing tears free to roll down his cheeks.
"I promise," he whispered, his throat constricting.
"I can't find his body."
Narcissa Malfoy's tear-thickened voice met Harry's ears and he immediately shrank back against the wall. Harry gave himself a quick shake, regaining his bearings. He risked rising up on his knees to peer around the crumbling stone.
"But you're certain you saw what happened?" Lucius asked, frantic, yet sounding oddly stronger than he'd seemed when he'd been running through the battle earlier, screaming for his son.
"Yes! Yes," her words rushed together. "I saw the killing curse strike him, Lucius."
Lucius' eyes closed for a moment and he inhaled deeply. When he opened them again, he squared his shoulders and stood straighter, holding his head high.
He looked like a man with renewed purposed, Harry thought as he watched the impossibly quick transformation. Suddenly, Lucius Malfoy was again the proud, arrogant creature he'd been before Voldemort had broken him.
"We will find his bo— we will find Draco, Narcissa, but first," he smoothed his hair back and stepped over to a fallen wizard, extracting the wand from the corpse's hand. "First, we will make the name Malfoy mean something, again."
He turned to those of Voldemort's ranks still standing, scattered as they were around bodies and debris. "Death Eaters!"
Harry realized with a start what was happening. Lucius had calculated the options left to him now that his son was dead, and his Dark Lord was no more, and chosen his next move carefully.
The dark wizards and witches glanced around at one another before gathering close.
"Comb the castle. Any survivors hiding shall surrender or die!"
Harry sank back down as triumphant cries rang out, safe in the knowledge that there were no survivors in the castle to kill—everyone had fled or capitulated, already, and joined the dark. He couldn't linger any longer.
Shaking his head as he blinked a fresh wash of tears from his eyes, he grabbed his fallen friend's shoulder one last time, gave it one final squeeze, and took his chance, bolting off into the shelter of the Forbidden Forest.
He made it as far as he dared and ducked behind a tree, catching his breath. He wanted to break down, wanted to drop to his knees and beat his fists against the ground until they were bloody, wanted to cry until his body dried up and blew away like dead leaves.
But he didn't have the luxury, not now. Hermione was out here, somewhere. And if anyone would think of a way to survive, it was her. Harry looked at the deluminator.
He knew Ron probably hoped it might lead him to Hermione, but Harry's wasn't so—
A scream tore the air, one he recognized all too well. He'd never forget the sound of it echoing to him through the floor of Malfoy Manor.
"Hermione!" Drawing his wand, he was off and running again.
Fenrir's hand covered her mouth and Hermione gagged as the thick, metallic fluid spilled down her throat. His fingers slid away from her lips as he loosened his jaw and raised his head.
The blood seared and chilled, all at once; her stomach icing and roiling, instantly. She struggled in his grip, but her strength had drained out of her by now. She thought distantly the blood had something to do with it—that ingesting the precious, but desecrated liquid was doing something to her body, already. But she tried to fight him, kicking and shifting beneath him.
Another scream tore from her as he shook her again. The moment her voice died away, she heard the crackling zap of a wand strike.
His body jerked and he let out a growl. He raised up a little, looking over his shoulder, his grip on her wrists slacking.
Hermione took advantage of Fenrir's distraction and rolled out from under him, immediately disoriented from the action.
The werewolf returned his attention to Hermione, expression livid as he made a grab for her.
Fenrir's body locked and he fell onto his side. She managed to scramble away just in time to miss his impact.
The voice that had shouted the spell seemed, in that moment, like the most amazing sound she'd ever heard in her life. "Harry?"
She sounded so weak, he thought, terrified he was too late as he darted toward her. Harry watched as she slowly, clumsily climbed to her feet. As she lifted her head to look at him, he saw the smear of silver across her lips. His gaze shot from her face, to the slain unicorn and back.
Tears streaked her dirt-smudged cheeks as she murmured, "It wa— it wasn't my fault. He forced me. He . . . ." Hermione blinked sleepily and shook her head before falling to the ground.
"Hermione!" He was beside her in an instant, gathering her into his arms.
Her eyes closed, she mumbled, her words barely intelligible, "It wasn't my fault, I tried not to . . . I tried . . . ."
He hugged her close, rocking lightly. "Shh, it's going to be okay, Hermione." He didn't believe his own words, everything was wrong—and she didn't even know about the deaths of Ron and Ginny, yet. She was not in any condition to hear such terrible news.
Harry leaned back a little, looking into her face. He'd never seen Hermione Granger appear more fragile than she did right then. "I'll find a way to help you," he whispered, pressing his forehead to hers."I promise you, I promise you, I won't let you die on me." He knew she didn't hear him, she'd fallen unconscious, her breathes soft and shallow, but he needed to say it, all the same.
Shifting her gently, he raised his wand, pointing at Fenrir. "Obliviate," he said, his voice quiet, but strong as he stole away all traces of Hermione from the beast-man's memory.
As the paralyzed Fenrir stared blankly past them into the forest, Harry realized that he wanted this creature to suffer. Setting aside his wand, he cupped a hand into the blood pooled beneath the unicorn's wound and reached out, pouring it over Fenrir's lips.
"Hope you enjoy your half-life," he whispered in an angry hiss as he took back his wand, pulled Hermione against him and stood.
As he began to walk, deeper into the heart of the forest—perhaps any surviving centaurs might offer them shelter—he felt shaken by how silent the place was. Everything that roamed here was either dead, helping scour what was left of Hogwarts, or hiding. He halted as a numb realization struck him. He could not seek the centaurs. They would not understand, they would see the silver blood on Hermione's lips and believe she'd turned dark; that perhaps she'd been dying and drank of the unicorn's wound willingly.
He rested his back against a tree and looked up into the darkened network of leaves and branches over their heads. He couldn't do this alone, but he feared bringing more danger to any surviving friends who might be hiding.
Did they truly have no one?
The conversation between Narcissa and Lucius came back to him. Draco's body hadn't been recovered. Harry thought for certain he knew the moment Narcissa had mentioned, only Draco hadn't been the one struck by the killing curse. The spell had missed him by barely a few centimeters, though, striking a Death Eater who'd run up on him.
Draco was from an old, pure-blood family, raised by dark wizards. He'd been part of Voldemort's inner circle, whether he'd liked it or not. He probably knew things, useful things, that he wasn't even aware he knew, or at least might have access to information that could help him cure Hermione.
And Draco did still owe them for saving his life.
Harry swallowed hard, green eyes drifting closed. If he was correct and Draco Malfoy's body wasn't in the castle, somewhere.
Hermione stirred in his arms, giving a pained whimper before she settled down again.
He curled his arms, holding her to him, but freeing his hands. With very little idea if it would work, and feeling ridiculous despite both their dire circumstance and all they'd been through, he held up the deluminator in one hand, and his wand in the other. "Lumos."
Clicking the deluminator, He allowed it to steal the spot of light. "Please, please. We need to find Draco Malfoy. Show us the way." Certainly he was improvising on how the device had led Ron to Hermione, but neither of them had such a connection to Draco—thought, admittedly, Harry did once have suspicions about the way Draco looked at Hermione—so he was supplementing the light, giving the strange little thing as much aid as he could think to provide.
He clicked it open and the ball of light shot out, bobbing a few meters ahead of them.
Harry nodded, once again shifting Hermione in his arms so he could maintain his grip on her, while holding his wand at the ready. He pushed off from the tree and trailed after the orb.
He couldn't let it worry him that rather than guiding them out of the Forbidden Forest, the light was leading them further in.