Disclaimer: I own nothing Jon Snow...er uhm...

Prologue

"Crucio!" She felt her body writhe, heard the gasps of torment escape through her bloodied lips, but still she refused to yield. The crazed brunette danced across the cool marble floors, determined to inflict as much damage as possible on her prey. Again and again she cursed the girl, a perverse sense of enjoyment coursing through her cold blood. Her gaze flickered to her nephew, his face contorted in…could it possibly be? Pain? Sympathy? Regret? For a Mudblood? Oh, this would never do.

She allowed her prisoner a moment of reprieve, her large dark eyes narrowing, catching the furtive glances between her nephew and her prey. She raised her wand, her long dark hair billowing around her shoulders, prepared to continue, when her sister touched her arm lightly.

"Bellatrix. Please."

"You dare to question me?! You dare to interfere with the wishes of The Dark Lord?" Bellatrix wielded her wand, thrusting it against her sister's throat.

"Never. I ask only please, to excuse my son. He's young. He's soft. He doesn't have the constitution for such things. Please? For me, Bella." The whispered words had their desired effect.

Bellatrix Lestrange lowered her wand, her lips pressed tightly together. She stalked toward her nephew, the heels of her stiletto boots clipping sharply across the marble. He refused to meet her gaze. He only had eyes for the Mudblood, squirming on the drawing room floor of Malfoy Manor. She glared into his red-rimmed eyes, noting the tremor in his demeanor with suspicion and disgust.

"Draco. A Mudblood? Really? I thought better of you than that." She hissed into his ear, enjoying the way he inadvertently flinched away from her.

"She's nothing." His voice wavered. "Just a dirty little Mudblood." His words were filled with venom, yet his empathetic eyes never left her.

"You lie." She practically spit in his face, spinning with a flourish toward her sister. "Take him." Bellatrix pointed at her nephew, her shrewd eyes squinting at her nephew's despondence. "Get this filth from me!" She kicked the Mudblood in the side, laughing when the semi-conscious groans reached her ears.


The screams reverberated in her skull. She clutched her chest, realising they were coming from her own mouth. She could still see the large eyes, disheveled hair and oh, that voice, in her mind's eye. The high, maniacal laughter, stinging like salt in a wound, as pain so unearthly pierced her core. It was always the same. And it always ended with the laughter. The delighted, devilish laughter was her undoing. The laughter drove her from the last vestiges of sleep, gasping, clutching her chest, pushing her damp hair off her forehead. It echoed inside her skull in such a way, she didn't think it would ever stop. She relived every moment of her torture, every night without reprieve. She couldn't remember the last time she actually slept through the night. Maybe it was when she was running with Harry and Ron, but even then, she slept only fitfully.

They kept saying it would get better with time. It would get easier. She didn't believe them, not anymore. If anything, they were getting worse, now that she was alone. It didn't take long for Ron to decide it wasn't something he could manage. He wanted someone to support him, to understand his pain, but honestly, he wasn't capable of understand hers. Yes, yes she's aware he lost one of his brothers. She would never make light of that. It was a horrific experience for all of them, yet part of her was angry. So very angry.

"Just..just get over it already! You don't see me screaming in MY sleep 'bout Fred now do ya?" Ron was throwing random articles of clothing in a ratty bag, his unruly red hair flopping into his dark blue eyes, while ranting and raving at her.

"It's not something I can control, Ron! It just happens. It's not like I spend all my time thinking about it!"

That morning had been particularly difficult. The moment she fell asleep, it was as if she was going back in time; laying there on the cold floor, unfamiliar, yet also familiar faces glaring down at her, dark eyes dancing with delight, long dark, disheveled hair bouncing. That familiar, decidedly masculine voice, of all things, screaming 'I'm sorry' as he's dragged away.

Ron had stopped comforting her months ago. He slept in the guest room as it was, but he used to climb into her bed and hold her until the sobbing abated. It wasn't particularly comforting but it was something. She couldn't remember the last time he had done such a thing.

"Look. You're not the only one who's had a rough go of it k? My brother died. My other brother lost an ear. Sirius, Lupin, Tonks…come on. And here you are, all alive and stuff, screaming in your sleep. You don't see Harry doing that now do ya? And he was face to face with…with…"

"Voldemort." She interjected lazily.

"I KNOW HIS NAME!" Ron bellowed, his freckled face red with embarrassment or anger, she couldn't be sure. She shrugged, angering her further. "Listen, I'm just gonna go to Harry and Ginny's for a bit. I need to…" he trailed off, waiting for her to explode in anger. The moment didn't come.

"I think that's a good idea. It's an even better idea, if you just stay there, until you find another place to live." She wrapped her thin arms around herself, twirling the end of a golden brown curl around her finger.

"Oi! Hermione! What are you saying?!" Ron tried to look indignant, which was very difficult when the relief was obvious in his eyes, while his cheeks were decidedly red.

"You've already said it." She turned away from him, walking passed him slowly, making sure to avoid contact, before reaching her bedroom door and closing it, without a backward glance. She didn't even flinch when Ron slammed the door.

That was six months ago. She was still waiting for that twinge of regret, but it never came.