A/n: Hello my wonderful devoted readers. For the most part I have always provided you with Dramione, but I have a new man I've fallen in love with writing, and I hope you love him too. This story is for Antonin Dolohov and Hermione Granger.
I have borrowed Antonin from canimal, with express permission and love from her. So if he seems similar, he should and is. Thank you Thank you canimal for letting me borrow him, I promise to be naughty and if I'm rough I promise he'll enjoy it ;)
This story will discuss some elements of child abuse, torture, witnessing dark things because Antonin was a Death Eater. So if that's uncomfortable for you, don't read. This will not be my "normal" fluffy story with NO darkness.
The pairings are: Antonin/Hermione, Harry/Hannah, Ron/Lavender and those are pretty much all you will hear about, because I'm going to be mostly focusing on Antonin / Hermione
TONS of beta love to gidgetmalfoy and my new beta Kanewolfe
I knew I loved you then
But you'd never know
'Cause I played it cool when I was scared of letting go
I know I needed you
But I never showed
But I wanna stay with you until we're grey and old
Just say you won't let go
Just say you won't let go
-James Arthur "Say You Won't Let Go"
Hermione's heels clacked against the marble floors as she made her way down the hallway to the Minister's office. She received the request for a meeting less than ten minutes ago from Kingsley's secretary, Gemma Farley. Her reply of confirmation was immediate, as was her departure from her office.
Taking the lift a floor up to level one, she greeted a few colleagues while she pondered why Kingsley would request a meeting on such short notice. Her job as Supervisor of the division of Magical Law under Magical Law Enforcement meant she didn't normally have issues of immediate importance.
"Hermione, how are you today?" Gemma asked, when Hermione walked into the little lobby before Kingsley's office. The Slytherin prefect was a beauty to behold, long, auburn hair and bright blue eyes. If Hermione didn't know that Kingsley was uninterested in women, she would wonder if Gemma had been hired for her looks alone.
"Oh you know, just another day at work," Hermione said greeting the witch with a warm smile. Gemma was one of the only Slytherins Hermione knew that would always offer a smile back, and while ambitious, she didn't sweep past people in her quest to advance.
"You can head in, he's waiting on you," the beautiful witch laughed like a peal of bells that would make anyone smile. Gemma nodded as she returned to her paperwork using her wand to send a memo.
Hermione walked to the large oak door with the small gold nameplate bearing Kingsley Shacklebolt, Minister of Magic. She pushed the door open to the Minister's warm office. While decorated professionally, Kingsley hid his personal items in plain sight. The back of the cream couch along the wall had a beautiful jewel tone purple blanket. The bookcases were full of an assortment of books, but nestled amongst them were Kingsley's preferred subject, Defense Against the Dark Arts. The chairs angled in front of his desk, while professional looking, were also some of the most comfortable arm chairs that Hermione had ever frequented.
"Hermione, thank you for coming so quickly," Kingsley said as he stood to walk around the desk and embrace the witch. He gestured to the chairs in front of his desk, before he returned to his seat.
Kingsley Shacklebolt was beginning to show signs of his age and the stress of the job. Even with the light grey dusting in his hair and faint wrinkles around his eyes, his eyes still glimmered with youthful joy at the sign of his friend. At the Battle of Privet Drive, Hermione and Kingsley had been paired up, which was a comfort to Hermione. After the war the two had remained close, meeting for lunch a few times a month and visiting one another around the holidays. Hermione had even been one of the privileged few to attend his vows ceremony with his partner, Michael.
"Of course, you rarely ask for an urgent meeting," she smoothed her skirt as she sat down.
"Well, I've had some intel brought before me, with some rather interesting information," Kingsley began, shuffling the folders on his desk until he found the right one. His eyes narrowed, glancing over it, "We just received this missive from a source in Russia. It states that they witnessed Antonin Dolohov forced into a blood oath at fourteen with his father. The oath was to become a Death Eater and serve Voldemort."
Hermione's eyes widened and her stomach dropped. It would never stop surprising her that parents could be so cold-hearted by forcing their children to do things that they themselves weren't willing to do. She held no love for Antonin Dolohov, but what might the man have been if he hadn't been forced to take a blood oath at the age of fourteen? Would he still be the man who haunted her nightmares?
Kingsley continued in her silence, "We've honestly never encountered anything like this, we of course allowed Draco Malfoy off with limited probation because he was so young when he was forced to take the mark, but even Dolohov never brought this information before us. We sent an Auror out to investigate this claim, and retrieve memories from the witness, as well as Dolohov himself to verify the truth. You and Harry are the ones I am turning to; we need to figure out what to do in regards to Dolohov, because not including his sentence after the first war, he's already served six years."
She nodded. Her brain hadn't stopped spinning. Her job as Supervisor of the Magical Law division under Magical Law Enforcement, and Harry's as the Head of the Department put them as the only two people, aside from Kingsley, who could make this decision. She was at a loss for what the decision could even be. Harry was currently out on assignment training some new recruits and wouldn't return for two days.
"Is there an immediate need to remove Dolohov from Azkaban?" Hermione asked looking at Kingsley.
"We have reports that he's had pneumonia for over three months and is in declining health, so a decision needs to be made," Kingsley said as his eyes scanned over the report in his hands.
"So sooner rather than later, I'll contact Harry to see if he can do a floo call tonight," she said, before she stood. "Do you have a copy of that report?"
"Yes, I'll have Gemma give you a copy. Can you let me know what Harry says tomorrow morning?" Kingsley stood and grabbed the report as he walked Hermione to the door.
"Of course," Hermione said striding through the door first as she stood to wait for a copy.
Back at her flat that evening, she sat on her couch going over and over the file that Kingsley had copied, while waiting on the floo call from Harry.
Beyond her personal feelings on the matter of Antonin Dolohov, it seemed he had done a lot in his past, including the murder of Molly Weasley's two brothers, Fabian and Gideon Prewett. This would not be an easy sell to anyone in their community, but when Molly Weasley heard that she and Harry were the ones who aided this process along, it would be exceptionally awkward.
Hermione sighed and took a sip from her wine glass. She knew it was all in her mind, but the scar from Dolohov's curse at the Department of Mysteries had been itching all day. Hermione assumed it was a subconscious reaction to the stress that this particular case brought forward. It couldn't be avoided however, because soon after she left Kingsley's office, she hadn't made it through four pages of the report before she knew she would need to see the pensieve memories herself.
She had rushed back up to Kingsley's office, grateful that her friend obliged her curiosity. The memories themselves had been taken from a witness who had recently been caught on charges unrelated to anything Dark, but in trade offered this tidbit of information. Aleski Kedrov, the son of Antonin Dolohov's father's friend, had been in the house after Antonin's father beat him, and then forced him to take a blood oath swearing loyalty to Voldemort.
Hermione had made a quick run to the Ministry archives to gather some basic understanding of a blood oath and what she had found had made her sick to her stomach. A Blood Oath tied your magic to your life so as long as you lived, your oath would be bound to your magic, and the penalty for not fulfilling a blood oath was to have your magic slowly drain. The end result was the status of a squib. It was no surprise why Dolohov was compelled to become a Death Eater.
Reviewing his crimes was incredibly painful as they were so numerous, but knowing that without following through he might have been tortured by Lord Voldemort, murdered, or lost his magic, she wasn't sure how she would have reacted in his position.
She raised her wine glass to her lips when she heard a small pop from her fireplace. Nestled amongst the flames was her best friend's head.
"Harry," she said dropping to her knees before the fireplace.
"You said it was urgent, are you ok? Is Ginny?" Harry asked, his voice laced with concern and worry, his eyes narrowed on Hermione.
"Yes, we're fine, but Kingsley needs a decision made by the Head of the Department, and it's of an urgent nature. I'm sorry to worry you," she said as she turned to pull the report to the floor in front of her.
"It's fine, what's going on," he said, his face being licked by flame.
"Kingsley was just made aware of some information. When Antonin Dolohov was fourteen, his father bound him with a blood oath to Voldemort," she paused, when Harry whistled, "They verified the information, with pensieve memories as well as Dolohov himself. I talked to Auror McDoughlin who retrieved the memories, and verified his condition. He told me that Dolohov seemed reluctant to speak about the oath, or his father. McDoughlin also explained that he's having an incredibly hard time breathing and they had to administer three pepper-up potions after he retrieved the memories. They're unsure how much time he has left."
She watched as Harry nodded his head. The silence was necessary. Whatever decision was made, there would be backlash. It was a choice between letting a man suffer in prison for crimes he was forced to commit, or dealing with public outcry. This was not going to be an easy decision. "What do you think we should do?"
Hermione sighed, carefully organizing the papers back into the file, "Honestly, he was forced. A blood oath will drain your magic if you don't fulfill it, and he would have become a squib. I know that doesn't nullify his crimes, but he's served…" she paused to flip open the file, swallowing hard. "Twenty years. Harry he's served twenty years for crimes, that yes he committed, but he was compelled. In my opinion, Dolohov should be released on a monitored wand and protected housing until we work out the details, medical attention and probation."
Harry remained silent. Never before had a prisoner been removed before their sentence was over, certainly no prisoner that was serving a life sentence. He sighed and nodded, "How quickly can we get him removed?"
"Within the week, I'm certain. The issue I come back to is where he'll stay, we have no precedent for this," Hermione said, her quill moved quickly as she wrote the formal letter that she and Harry could bring before Kingsley tomorrow.
Harry remained quiet, looking into the distance. "We have an Auror safe house in Cornwall. It hasn't been used in years. We can change the secret keeper, but it's already unplottable with muggle repelling charms, and it's not connected to the floo."
Hermione nodded, her quill now carefully wording the formal pardon, and beneath, the terms of the pardon, "When will you be back in town so we can set it up?"
"Tomorrow evening, but setting up the house can wait until Thursday. If Kingsley approves, we should be able to remove him by Friday. I'll have a mediwitch sent out to begin treatment," Harry said. He watched her write and his attempts to read upside down were not going well, so he waited.
A few minutes later, Hermione grabbed her tongs and passed the scroll through the fire. While she waited, she organized the papers and put them back in the file before she drained the last of her wine.
"Everything seems to be in order, if anything changes we can review tomorrow evening," Harry said, passing the note back through. "See you tomorrow, 'Mione."
"Love you, Harry," she said, and smiled at her friend before his head disappeared from the fire.
Hermione held a large coffee in her hand as she waited outside Kingsley's office for a few minutes before Gemma smiled and waved her inside.
It had been a long night with very little sleep, fretting over the prisoner that was due to be released. Beyond the pit of fear that had now formed in her stomach, she found herself thinking on the man himself. She had silenced him in the Department of Mysteries, and with clearly prodigious magical ability he still managed to hit her with a curse that created a scar from her right hip to the top of her left breast. It was one of the reasons she hadn't pushed herself to date; it created awkward questions and unnecessary concerns.
Hermione sipped her coffee, the warmth heating her blood, and fighting off the cold that had settled in her body since her visit with Kingsley the day before. A cold that a long bath, a couple glasses of wine and a warm comforter had not helped.
She understood perfectly that he had acted on a blood oath to join Voldemort, but he went on to create spells and use Dark Magic that wasn't required for his service. What prompted this man to create spells for Dark intent? Surely the Three Unforgivables were enough.
She had lost count of the number of times she had to chastise herself for her curious thoughts about a man surrounded by Death Eaters, who managed to create curses that only he knew. It reminded her distinctly of Severus Snape, a man of mystery to be sure. The Sorting Hat had tried to place her in Ravenclaw, had agonized over that decision, and her curiosity right now over Antonin Dolohov was not helpful or necessary.
"Good Morning, Hermione," Kinsley greeted her warmly as she opened the door and closed the space between her and the chairs in front of his desk.
"Morning," she mumbled, knowing she wouldn't be able to hide her attitude from Kingsley, ex-Auror, Current Minister of Magic, and her friend.
"Long night?" He picked up his teacup and eyed the witch carefully. Kingsley could never be accused of being thoughtless or unkind, his concern was obvious for the witch across from him.
"Yes, just reliving old memories. This is new information and it changes the crimes he's committed," Hermione said and removed the file and scroll from her bag. She laid them on the desk in front of Kingsley who ignored them.
He fixed her with a serious stare, "Hermione, while the circumstances or compulsion to commit the crimes have changed, the fact that he committed them, has not. He still is responsible for them, and it does not change the pain suffered at the end of his wand."
Hermione nodded, but remained quiet. Kingsley was right, but she knew there was more to this story, there had to be. Being forced into becoming a dark wizard was a lot different than choosing it for yourself.
"This all seems to be in order, when can we visit the house?" Kingsley noted the silence and her lack of agreement.
"Harry said Thursday. I have a list of the things that need to happen before he's released," she pulled out the list and with a nod from Kingsley explained, "He needs a monitored wand, so a trip to Ollivander's. I need to check and see if any of his belongings are in lock-up when his place was taken after he was sentenced. My list I'm sure will grow once we see the house, it might need furniture and surely it will need food. I also thought we could send a mediwitch out to him early, to begin his treatment."
Kingsley nodded, grabbing a scroll and penned a message. "I'll authorize a mediwitch to Azkaban today, but we need to discuss who will be in charge of him while he's out."
"The Aurors handle all probation and releases," Hermione said, confused by his train of thought.
"Yes normally, but this is not a normal case. I would prefer we keep the amount of people who know about Mr. Dolohov's release quiet for a time."
"To what end, Kingsley?" Hermione watched her friend carefully as he shuffled papers nervously on his desk before he finally looked up at her.
"As I'm sure you know, we have a leak within the Ministry, this source seems to be handing information over to the Prophet. Once we know who it is, we can freely announce it to the public and deal with those repercussions," Kingsley's eyes were etched in disappointment.
"Of course, so who do you propose handles Dolohov?" Hermione asked. She knew Harry had a few trusted Aurors on his staff that could be reassigned to handle this.
"You. I need you to handle this. We will limit your case load so you-" Kingsley's words were cut off by a Hermione's cry of frustration.
She couldn't believe her ears, he must be joking! She stood as she dropped all friendly pretenses, "You do realize, Minister, that Antonin Dolohov hasn't tried to kill me once, no not even twice, but three bloody times! And you want me to work with him?"
Kingsley held up his hands, hoping to offer calm to the agitated witch, "Hermione, I do understand this, but we can not have people knowing he's out, yet. I also cannot allow someone I don't trust to have access to this man's home. We have no idea how the public will handle his release."
Hermione cried out again, but refrained from speaking and began pacing Kingsley's office. The worst part was Kingsley knew, he had been at the hospital to check on her after Dolohov's curse injured her. He had sat on the edge of her bed, grimacing as she drank the 10 disgusting potions that kept her alive. He was the one that saw the jet of green light come flying at her, when she was disguised as Harry. Sighing, she ran her hands through her hair, before she sank back into his chair, "I'm sorry, Kingsley."
"It's perfectly fine, Hermione. I understand your feelings, and if Harry wasn't already so over worked as Head, I would ask this of him." In this moment Kingsley looked older, older than he was, and much more stressed. Hermione knew the loneliness that came from working a job when you couldn't talk about aspects of it, and she was sure as the Minister of Magic there were many secrets he felt the burden of.
She also knew Kingsley cared about her a great deal. When Hermione graduated from Hogwarts, and before she began work with the Ministry, she set off to attempt to reverse the Memory Charm she had placed on her parents. Kingsley and Harry had come along with her. Kingsley had detected how deeply set she had made her charm work, called in some favors and was able to procure a tricky potion that would help access the deeper recesses of their minds and unlock the charm. Hermione would be forever grateful for the Minister's friendship, and knew he would never do anything to harm her.
They ended their meeting after a few minutes, with Kingsley handing her a scroll with access to a Gringotts vault that had been set up for Dolohov.
Hermione rushed back to her office, ignoring the stares of her co-workers or their attempts at conversation with her. She warded her door and slid into her chair, resting her head in her hands. This was absolutely the last thing she wanted or needed to deal with. When was she just allowed to have a normal, quiet life?
Hermione had spent the years since her final year at Hogwarts quietly hoping to just pass under the radar. When the war ended and all the trials began, she, Harry, and Ron all were called forward, and were frequently made to be the subject of articles.
Her relationship with Ron had started up right after the war, and the two words she now used to describe the relationship were obliged and rushed. Ron wanted to speed through the relationship, because they had been friends for so many years, but she had wanted to start fresh, and feel this relationship for the newness that it was.
Ron had initially been displeased when she said she was going back for 8th year. With the joy from the end of the war swirling around them, she found herself trying to hide, while he wanted to bask in the limelight that it was offering. That's when the reports started to come out.
They were hounded by the press, and not just about their official roles in cases or specific trials, but about every aspect of their personal life. Hermione had been able to escape some of it with her return to Hogwarts, but the reports of her ex's behavior still followed her.
The worst report came halfway through her first semester back, and this one included a rather candid picture of her boyfriend at the time enjoying himself with another witch. Hermione was heartbroken, and took refuge for the weekend in the Room of Requirement, which hid her from everyone. This break kept her ex at bay, unable to contact to her, and gave her the time and distance to allow herself to grieve and make up her mind. Their relationship was over, and she hoped they could maintain a friendship, but she couldn't be what Ron wanted.
After graduation from Hogwarts, Hermione laid low at Grimmauld Place with Harry, helping him begin renovation of House Black. Harry had offered her the non-judgemental refuge she needed post breakup, because she didn't feel like she had a place with the Weasleys anymore.
Hermione had a few one-offs since Ron, but stayed single, even though the loneliness sometimes left her breathless and crying in her bathtub.
So, for the Minister of bloody Magic to force her into the presence of someone who had tried to kill her, was just a little bit more then she wanted to deal with.
At least she could say that Dolohov wasn't an actor in the worst nightmare she'd ever had. He had a minor role in comparison to that of Bellatrix Lestrange, and Hermione thanked Merlin, again, that Molly Weasley had killed the evil bitch.
Hermione shook her head. She had work to do, cases to reassign, excuses to come up with and a list of things to do before Antonin Dolohov was to be released from prison.
Friday dawned much too early for Hermione, who was up to see the sunrise. It had been another almost sleepless night. Purple blasts of light, searing pain, and jets of green light haunted what little sleep she had been able to find.
She fed Crookshanks before she left her flat. She headed to the Leaky for a quick muffin and tea before she met Harry and Kingsley at the Ministry. She was still unsure how she was going to work with him, but she had resolved that this unfortunate pairing would only serve to strengthen her. Hermione was allowing herself to face a fear in order to come out more whole on the other side.
Hermione stood by the Auror's personal apparition point, as she waited for Kingsley and Harry to meet her. They were due to Apparate over to Azkaban, and return with a registered Portkey to take Dolohov to his temporary home.
The former hideout for Aurors during the first war, was honestly a beautiful house that had Hermione wishing it was for sale. Nestled along the coast near Cornwall sat Doyden Castle, though it hardly deserved the title. A small stone home with three bedrooms and a bathroom, it was truly a cozy place once it was dusted, cleaned and aired out, all of which were done by Hermione the previous day when she, Harry, and Kingsley had gone out to the home to increase the wards and change secret-keeper.
She had also put in an inquiry to the Hall of Clutter, a division of the Ministry that acted as the collector of things, to check and see if Dolohov had anything from when they raided any of his former residences. Kingsley had already told her that the account he had set up was some Ministry money and the rest of Dolohov's personal Gringotts account, which was measley.
"Hermione," Harry said in greeting as he approached her. "Just waiting on Kingsley then?"
Hermione nodded, "Is he bringing the portkey?"
"Yes, he said he would pick it up," Harry shuffled his feet, clearly as ready for this trip to Azkaban to be over as she was.
When Kingsley took over as Minister of Magic, one of his first acts was to banish the Dementors from Azkaban. It took a few months to pass it through the proper channels and get it officially approved, but it was. The prison was now run by a special group of wizards: part Auror, part babysitter. Azkaban had undergone a lot of changes in the last few years, including changing the bottom few floors to a low security prison. The prisoners could now leave their cells for a few hours each day. So far, the programs were working.
"Ah, I see him," Harry said. At over a head taller, Harry able to see further than Hermione.
"Harry, Hermione," Kingsley smiled warmly at the pair, before he offered his arm to Hermione. "Can I escort you?"
Hermione nodded, getting the sneaking suspicion that he was making sure that she wasn't able to chicken out and avoid going entirely.
Once the tightness of Apparation released its hold of Hermione's body, she looked around at a very drab and dingy lobby.
"Welcome to Azkaban," Kingsley murmured with barely concealed disgust.
Hermione looked around and took note of the attempts to make this room appear official and hide the real nature of the site.
They spoke with several people before they were directed to a back room, and a man named Alan Wilson.
"Minister, Mr. Potter, and Miss Granger, what an honor," Mr. Wilson's voice was squeaky and reminded Hermione unpleasantly of Peter Pettigrew. With one look at Harry's narrowed eyes, she knew he noticed the same similarities.
"We're here to release Antonin Dolohov, you were owled the paperwork earlier this week." Kingsley's voice seemed to echo in the tiny room, adding to the general awe of the Minister.
"Of course, of course. He's getting ready," Mr. Wilson said, sitting in the chair behind his desk. "Can I get anything for you Minister?"
"No, I'm fine. Thank you. We will not be staying long," Kingsley said, settling the room into silence.
Hermione looked up a few minutes later when she heard the sound of chains moving across the floor outside the door. She automatically moved closer to Harry, her hand already wrapped around her wand.
The door opened of its own accord, and a guard walked in tugging on a chain that joined with shackles around a skinny, pale, clearly sick man. His brown hair hung, long and dirty, near his shoulders. His deep brown eyes swept the room before they stopped on Hermione and widened.
It didn't immediately register to Hermione that the man before her was Antonin Dolohov, the man in her nightmares was bigger, more intimidating. This man looked as though the wind could knock him down, and she wasn't sure he would have the energy to get back up.
"This is Mr. Dolohov?" Kingsley's voice was raised and quaking, a dangerous sign to the people who knew him best.
"Yes, Antonin Dolohov. Prisoner D-102211," Mr. Wilson said his eyes on the paperwork on his desk and not on the prisoner. "I just checked-"
Mr. Wilson's words were cut off by a loud series of coughs from the prisoner. Each cough seemed to drain more energy from the clammy, thin man, and towards the end of the coughing fit he lost his balance.
Hermione was in action before she could think, her body moving towards the man who had once tried to kill her. Her arms reached for him as he fell to his knees, his cough cut off by a loud groan of pain.
Kingsley was now yelling about inquiries while Harry thundered, equally, beside the Minister, but Hermione couldn't tear her gaze away from the chestnut eyes that widened when they settled on her face.
"It's you, you finally came for me, Pchelka," Antonin Dolohov's voice should have sent a thrill of fear through her system, but it was low and calming.
She had no idea what he had just called her, or what his words meant, but from the way he was cradled against her she could feel the heat radiating off of him.
"Kingsley," her voice was low, pleading. This caught the attention of all the men in the room, including the man in her arms, who groaned, mumbling words in Russian. "He needs to be taken home now. He's very sick. He needs medical attention."
"I'll get them there, Kingsley," Harry said with one last glare at Mr. Wilson before he took the Portkey Kingsley offered.
"Mr. Dolohov, you have to touch the Portkey," Hermione said, her voice warm and low, as though she spoke to a small child.
"Where are we going, Pchelka?"
"I'm taking you home, Mr. Dolohov," Hermione answered as he reached his fingers towards the small bottlecap.
"Home," he murmured before they were all pulled away with a bright blue light.
To be continued...