The Dragon Chronicles
A/N: The whole idea for this fic came when I read a drabble that Nerys wrote on Tomione Convention some time ago (Check out part 20 of her story The Forbidden Ship here on FFN!). She was gracious enough to let me spin-off on her idea and write… this. It'll be one of those really long fics though and I think it's safe to say that I've made it my own. Thus far, I have over 90k words in need of editing and I think it's safe to say that this story will be well over 100k before it's done.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter and I don't make money writing this.
Warning: Where to start? Lots of torture, death and violence. Mention of rape as well as some serious dubious sexual content. Voldemort is having fun in this fic, what more can I say? I should probably also warn you that the first four chapters have Snake!Face-Voldemort, but that will change because of ... reasons.
Special thanks to Nerys and Ozzy for betaing this chapter, and also thanks to Serp, Shan and Queen V for cheering me on from the sideline and just encouraging me and being there whenever I need to brainstorm or just rant because the characters aren't behaving. Love you guys!
Just as Hermione was about to throw herself towards Harry, Ron, Dobby and freedom, someone caught her foot, making her stumble and fall. Lucius Malfoy had a hard grip on it, and she realised that, without a wand, she wouldn't be able to get loose.
Ron made an attempt to get back to her, but she caught Dobby's eyes.
"Go, Dobby, go!" she cried. "Save Harry!"
Dobby nodded once at her and took Ron by the back of his shirt. Harry gave her a look of agony, but she shook her head. His life was worth more than hers in the battle against Voldemort. It was as simple as that.
"No!" Bellatrix Lestrange cried and threw her dagger towards Dobby, but it was too late, the elf had already disappeared.
Hermione knew she would undoubtedly be killed at any moment. Despite that, a wave of relief went through her body. Harry and Ron had got away. They lived to fight another day.
Bellatrix spun around and stalked towards her. "Where is my wand?"
Behind Hermione, Lucius Malfoy let go of her and got back to his feet. "Potter had them all in his hand!"
Bellatrix let out a roar of anger and kicked Hermione on her shoulder. Hermione stifled a cry of pain. She didn't want to appear weak, not now. Not after going through all that torture and managing to trick—
She grew cold.
Harry and Ron wouldn't realise what she had done while Bellatrix tortured her. They wouldn't realise why Bellatrix had been so interested in the sword. Without Hermione, they wouldn't find the Horcrux!
But how could she possibly escape alive from this?
As if answering her prayer, Lord Voldemort himself Apparated into the room. Bellatrix, who was about to kick her again, froze for a moment, and then, fell to her knees, bowing in front of the tall, pale man.
Lucius Malfoy did the same thing.
Voldemort's red gaze roved over the room, his eyes pausing at the fallen chandelier, broken glass surrounding it, before looking at the magically smashed up table, and then moving to Narcissa who was sitting in the corner with Draco's head in her lap, nursing him.
"I believe I ordered you not to disturb me unless you had Potter. Where is he?"
Bellatrix whimpered. "We had him, my Lord, but he just got away. A house-elf appeared and—"
She was broken off as Voldemort cast the Cruciatus Curse on her. Her scream was bone-chilling, and Hermione shivered in fear. Even though she had just been tortured, it didn't sound as if Bellatrix had hurt her as much as Voldemort was hurting Bellatrix now.
"We caught Potter's Mudblood, my Lord," Lucius Malfoy called out, his voice trembling in fear. "She'll no doubt be able to—"
He, too, was interrupted as a curse was thrown his way.
Hermione's heart beat furiously in her chest. She had to make Voldemort let her go so she could get back to Harry and Ron. But what could she offer him in return?
It had to be something big, but not something that would enable Voldemort to win the war. Not at once, at least. But perhaps something that would stall him.
An idea started to form in her mind. It was a potentially horrifying idea. If she failed to find Harry, then Voldemort would most certainly win.
However, if she were killed here, wouldn't Voldemort win as well? She loved Harry and Ron, but they would be lost without her. With her help, they stood a chance.
Voldemort finally turned his attention towards her.
"Where is Potter?" he hissed, his wand raised.
"I don't know where Dobby took them," Hermione said quickly. "But I can offer you something else—"
She, too, didn't get to finish her sentence before Voldemort cursed her. It was indeed more horrible than what Bellatrix had done.
"Dragon Chronicles!" she screamed, in a desperate attempt to get him to stop.
It had the desired effect. "I have had many people utter nonsense while under my wand. You better make this worth my time, Mudblood."
"I know where they are," Hermione gasped, the aftereffects of the curse still making her nerve endings spasm.
"The Dragon Chronicles were destroyed a thousand years ago by Merlin himself," Voldemort said coldly. "What would you know of such a Dark text?"
"A copy must have been misplaced. I found it by accident. Try and see into my mind if you don't believe me," she said, trying to calm her breathing.
Voldemort turned his wand on her again, but this time, he only attempted to enter her mind. She stared back into his red eyes, and was relieved to see realisation hit him.
"A mind of dragon scale," Voldemort commented. "Unless this is a trick. There are potions that achieve the same effect for a short period of time."
"Then try again in a couple of hours," Hermione suggested. "Surely you can torture me then as well as now?"
Voldemort looked amused. "True. Narcissa, take the Mudblood back to the dungeon. Search her thoroughly before locking her in. Then come back here."
Narcissa reluctantly moved from her son's side and came over, beckoning Hermione to follow her. Hermione did so without a fuss, relieved that Voldemort was giving her the benefit of the doubt.
In the dungeon cell, Narcissa ordered Hermione to take off her clothes, leaving her in just her knickers. Hermione wrapped her arms around her chest, both out of modesty and because of the cold. But she didn't protest. If Voldemort were going to believe her, she had to prove to him that she couldn't have tricked him.
After searching her, Narcissa threw back her t-shirt, before bundling up the rest of Hermione's clothes in her arms and taking them with her as she left the dungeon. Hermione put it back on, glad to not have to face Voldemort in the nude. Though, it didn't help much against the cold.
Barefoot, she walked back and forth in the dark cell, trying to shut out the screams of agony coming from upstairs. The Malfoys and Bellatrix were getting punished for having let Harry escape. She didn't feel sorry for Lucius and Bellatrix, but she didn't think Narcissa and Draco deserved it. Draco had clearly recognised them when they had come to Malfoy Manor, and he had still tried to play dumb. Apparently, the reality of being a Death Eater had made him see the error of his ways.
It took several hours before the screaming finally stopped. Hermione had by then gone numb to the cold and was sitting down, leaning her back against the stone wall.
The door opened and Voldemort appeared, his wand lit.
"Come," he ordered.
She quickly got to her feet and followed the Dark Lord out of the dungeon. He took her up another set of stairs that led to a long corridor of closed doors. The wooden floor was warmer under her cold feet than the stone floor of the dungeon had been. Yet, she wished she could wrap one of those heavy green curtains around her body to get warm again.
Voldemort led her into a study and gestured for her to sit on the sofa. Hermione gladly did so, because there was a folded blanket hanging over its back. Hoping that he wouldn't object, she quickly pulled it over her legs.
"Let us see if you were telling the truth," Voldemort said softly, pulling up his wand.
Once again, Hermione felt the tickling sensation of something trying to penetrate the scales protecting her mind. It wasn't at all like Occlumency. She couldn't trick someone into believing that what they were seeing was a real memory. All she could do was make sure no one could get into her mind. It was the only skill she had learnt from the short time she had been able to study the chronicles, because it was the only one that didn't require a wand.
She hadn't been able to teach Harry the same technique. Her friend had been just as lousy to focus his mind on this as on real Occlumency. She hadn't wanted to push it since the Dragon Chronicles were an illegal text (even though they didn't seem nearly as Dark as the books she had read when researching Horcruxes) and just told Harry to try learning Occlumency instead.
Voldemort let up his attempt and looked at her thoughtfully. "It would appear you are telling the truth."
"I will tell you where to find them if you let me go," she proposed bravely.
The corner of Voldemort's mouth curved in amusement again. "Let you go? It is true that I can't get the information from your mind, but I do believe, with a bit of persuasion, you will still tell me everything."
"Maybe," she agreed, trying to banish the fear from her voice. "But that could take quite some time. You are a busy man, surely you have more important things to do than torture a Mudblood? If you agree to let me go, I'll tell you exactly where to find them."
"Ah, yes, but if I torture you, I will get even more information," he said.
"No you won't," Hermione objected. "You must know that torture is a very bad way to get information. After a while, the victim will tell you whatever they think you want to hear just to get the torture to stop, no matter if it's the truth or not."
Voldemort didn't look completely convinced, so she continued.
"Besides, you will need my help to get them. They are in the Muggle world, and you won't be able to just kill your way through, to get to them. You have to know how a computer works."
"The last copy of the Dragon Chronicles is in the Muggle world?" Voldemort asked in disbelief.
"How do you think a mere Mudblood found them?" Hermione said, rolling her eyes.
"You have too much cheek, Miss Granger," Voldemort stated, his eyes narrowing. "Perhaps I should just torture you for the fun of it?"
Hermione tensed. "I meant no disrespect ... my Lord." She couldn't act like Harry would. She had to be smart to get out of here.
Voldemort smiled coldly, clearly seeing through her attempt to flatter him. "Lucky for you, I feel merciful at the moment. Very well, I will let you go, if you swear to stay here for one day. During that day, you'll do whatever I want you to do, and tell me whatever I wish to know."
"About the Dragon Chronicles," Hermione said, seeing a potential for disaster.
Voldemort chuckled. "About the Dragon Chronicles."
Hermione relaxed. "Very well."
"Swear it, then. On your magic."
Hermione took a deep breath. "I swear on my magic to, for twenty-four hours, starting now, do whatever Lord Voldemort wants me to do, and tell him whatever he wishes to know about the Dragon Chronicles."
The feeling of a magical rope tightening around her chest told her that the deal had been sealed. Well, this would have to work. Translating and practising the spells in the Dragon Chronicles would keep Voldemort busy for months, no doubt. In that time, she would find Harry and Ron and destroy the rest of his Horcruxes.
"Excellent," Voldemort said. "It is a quarter past midnight now. If you follow your end of the deal, I will let you go in exactly twenty-four hours."
She breathed in relief. Just one more day, then she would be free.
"Now," Voldemort said. "Where are the scrolls?"
"They are in the medieval collection at St Helena's library," Hermione said. "It's in Eccleston."
Voldemort pointed his wand at the blanket in her lap. It shifted in her lap, some parts extending and folding over each other, until it transformed into a set of simple black robes. "Get dressed. We are going there right now."
"But it's the middle of the night, the library isn't open," Hermione objected.
One look from him made her realise how stupid that sounded. Of course Lord Voldemort didn't care about such trivial things as opening hours.
She quickly put on the robe and in the next moment, Voldemort pulled out her wand.
"Remember that you have to do whatever I wish. And I do not wish that you try to escape, or harm me. Not that you would be able to do either, but nonetheless."
"Thank you," Hermione said, awed that he would give her the wand. Then again, he must be certain that she wouldn't be able to do anything. They had a deal. "Should I do Side-Along Apparition?"
"I believe that would be sufficient," he said dryly, holding out his arm for her to grab.
She Apparated them to the church her grandmother had taken her to, a few years earlier. Her grandmother, Alice, had been the only Muggle (beside her parents) who had known that Hermione was a witch. Hermione had always been very close to her grandmother and had often visited her during the holidays until she passed away in the summer between Hermione's fifth and sixth year.
Alice had lived in Eccleston and been involved with the church of St Helena. Amongst other things, she had taken care of the library collection. It was just a small library, but it contained books dating back to the Roman era. When Hermione had been fifteen, her grandmother had taken her there after discovering a collection of scrolls which mentioned dragons. Hermione had told Alice all about the dragons in the Triwizard tournament, and Alice had recognised one of the names as a real species of dragons. Thus, she had believed, rightly so, that it was a scroll written by real wizards from a thousand years ago and showed it to her granddaughter.
Back then, Hermione hadn't realised what it really was she was seeing. The ancient scroll had been partly written in runes, and she hadn't been good enough to read it back then. It wasn't until after Dumbledore died that Hermione had come across a reference to the Dragon Chronicles and realised what it was Alice had really shown her.
Thus, she had immediately had her parents drive her there, as soon as she had come home from Hogwarts. Her understanding of runes was finally good enough for her to decipher parts of what was written. It was magic she hadn't known even existed, including a magical technique to shield your mind against magic, the same way a dragon's hide shielded against magic. It had taken her weeks to learn it, but it had been worth it.
However, she hadn't wanted to get caught carrying such valuable scrolls. She hadn't been able to figure out all that was written in them, just enough to know that it was very dangerous knowledge, in the wrong hands. Thus, she had left them in the library, meaning to return to them when the war was over.
Now, however, she would have to give up that knowledge in the hopes of buying enough time to win the war. It had taken her weeks to properly decipher only the small passages that held spells she thought would be useful, which were hardly more than one scroll out of seven. Even with her help, it would take Voldemort just as long before he knew enough from them to actually use it for what it was intended for.
They landed just outside the church, and Hermione lead them towards the annex, where the library was. Voldemort followed her without a word.
She magically unlocked the door to the annex and lit her wand. She didn't want to switch on the electric light, and risk Muggles seeing them. She was certain that if the police showed up, Voldemort would have no qualms about killing them.
She went down the stairs to where the medieval collection was located and turned on the computer that was used to catalogue the library. Voldemort stood behind her with his arms crossed, not saying anything. She wondered if he had ever seen a computer before. It wasn't like they had been around when he was young and still living in the Muggle world.
The Muggles had called the scrolls "Dragon Myths, author unknown", so that was what she typed into the computer. After a moment of the computer processing her request, she was given the right shelf where they were situated.
She memorised it and started walking between the shelves, Voldemort right behind her. After just a couple of minutes searching, she pulled out the air-sealed box which contained the old scrolls.
"The Muggles uses these to preserve old documents," she said. "But we can cast preservation spells on them so we can read them without any problem."
She went to the nearest table and opened the box, casting the preservation spell, so they wouldn't be harmed when she unrolled them. Voldemort, however, was faster and pulled out the scroll on top, immediately rolling it open.
As he read, she counted the scrolls. There had been seven of them the last time she had come here, and there were seven still present. She sighed. She had hoped that at least one would have been removed for research purposes or something, so Voldemort wouldn't have got his hands on all of them at once. Then again, if that had been the case, he would probably just have killed the person who had it. Maybe this was for the best.
"Remarkable," Voldemort finally said, closing the scroll again.
He reached out to take the whole box, but Hermione stopped him. "I know you probably don't care, but..."
She trailed off, and removed all the scrolls from the box, and then conjured seven identical copies and put them into the box. However, these scrolls were only filled with gibberish. She didn't want some poor Muggle to be blamed for the disappearance of a whole box of scrolls.
She put back the lid on the box and placed it on the same shelf as before. In the meantime, Voldemort had conjured up a new box and placed the real scrolls in it instead.
She shut off the computer and made sure that no evidence of them having been there was left behind. Then she let Voldemort Apparate them back to Malfoy Manor.
"Sit there and don't disturb me," he ordered her, waving at the same sofa she had sat on before.
Hermione didn't mind sinking down on the sofa. Now when she had finally finished keeping up her end of the bargain, she felt how exhausted she was. The fear and pain had really taken its toll on her. Although she knew she still wasn't safe, her eyelids grew heavy the moment she lay down on the sofa.
It didn't take her long to drift off to sleep. Yet, it felt as if she had closed her eyes for hardly more than a second when Voldemort shook her shoulder.
"Wake up. You still have to fulfil your promise," he said.
Daylight was now shining through the window. She must have slept a few hours, then. "But I already gave you the Dragon Chronicles. What more could I share?"
He smiled unpleasantly. "I do believe you promised to do whatever I wished you to do. Come."
Dread filled her. What on earth would he force her to do? Well, whatever it was, it would have to be fast, because there were only a few hours left. Perhaps, he wanted to force her to torture someone or something?
She reluctantly stood up. She had sworn on her magic, and it would be most unpleasant for her if she didn't follow through.
This time, it was he who took her for Side-Along Apparation. When the world had stopped spinning for her, she saw that they had landed inside the Ministry. She recognised the corridor from having been there before (who could forget that portrait of those flying pigs in tutus?). It was the corridor leading to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. However, before they reached the Auror headquarters, Voldemort led her into a side corridor.
A golden sign was hanging next to a door, informing her that they had reached the Magical Family Division. That confused her even more. What on earth was Voldemort doing leading her here?
Three Ministry workers met them inside. They all bowed towards Voldemort, not looking at all surprised to see him there. They must have expected him.
"Prepare her," Voldemort ordered a tall woman, dressed in a purple robe.
Hermione followed the other woman into a bathroom. She was puzzled when she saw that a bath had been prepared. Sure, she knew she could use a bath, but why did Voldemort think so too?
Nevertheless, it was better than having to torture someone, and thus, when the woman told her to step into the tub, she did so without complaint. The water was hot and nice, but she felt rather uncomfortable when the other woman began to wash her hair.
Twenty minutes later, she was dressed in another robe of a much better standard than her old one. It was bright blue, fitting her as if it had been made for her measurements.
"Is this a dress robe?" Hermione asked as she studied herself in the mirror.
"Yes," the other woman answered shortly, as she struggled to force Hermione's hair into a bun.
"Why do I need a dress robe—ouch!" The woman had pulled hard at her hair, making Hermione wince.
She didn't answer her question, and Hermione got the feeling that the other woman didn't like her. Perhaps it was because she was Muggleborn and the woman didn't want to have to serve a Muggleborn? The thought of making a bigot uncomfortable made Hermione feel strangely smug.
Once her hair was done, the woman led her out of the bathroom and back to Voldemort. He looked at her from head to toe and nodded once. The other woman bowed and left once more.
"Why did you dress me up?" Hermione asked, looking around the new room.
Judging by the desk filled with paperwork and the shelves full of binders, this was someone's office. Though, there was no one there, except the two of them.
"Because I can," Voldemort said, smirking. "The next thing you have to do is simple. Just wave and smile at the camera."
Before Hermione could express her surprise, another woman entered the office. She was looking a lot more nervous than the first one, and she kept licking her lip as she glanced towards Voldemort. Her fingers had a hard grip on the camera.
"Take the pictures," Voldemort ordered, and then looked at Hermione.
Seeing no other choice, Hermione smiled and waved the best she could, as the photographer snapped several pictures. By the time the last one had been taken, Hermione had the horrible feeling that Voldemort planned to use this for some sort of propaganda. Perhaps, to lure other Muggleborns into a false sense of security?
A heavy feeling of dread filled her, but it was too late. She would just have to hope that the war would be over soon.
Voldemort dismissed the photographer with a wave of his hand, and she left. When the door closed, Voldemort turned towards Hermione again.
"Now you only have to do one more thing. For the remainder of our time here at the Ministry, you'll only be allowed to say one thing: I do. Is that understood?"
Hermione nodded slowly. She was starting to feel strange. As if her mind was fleeing her body. On one hand, she knew exactly what was going on, but on the other hand, she couldn't believe it. It was just so ridiculous it was laughable.
Her eyes travelled back to the desk where the paperwork was stacked. Now, she noticed the small bronze sign standing at the edge which read: Gregory Waterman, marriage official.