Author's Notes:

1) May contain themes such as, but not limited to, smut, violence, possessive behavior, self-harm, and sado-masochism. This story is intended as dark, smutty, and humorous (sometimes in a twisted, dark-humor sort of way, sometimes just straight-up funny).

2) Those re-reading this since the previous update may notice a change in the way Thorfinn addresses Hermione (switching it from 'Princess' to 'Sunshine'). I'd initially borrowed elements Canimal had created for his character (with her knowledge and permission), but she has been hurt several times by fellow writers who borrowed without asking or giving credit, and so she has stopped granting permission. I realized part of the issue might be the more places other writers see these elements, the less likely they are to think they're not just common fanon. While she allowed me to continue borrowing those elements, myself, I felt it was a greater sign of respect for her efforts were I to go through any WiPs where these elements appear, and weed them out in place of my own take on the characters and their dynamics.

* Orias Mulciber is my take on the canon character of Mulciber.

FANCAST: Brock O'Hurn as Orias Mulciber, Chris Hemsworth as Thorfinn Rowle, Michiel Huisman as Antonin Dolohov (Henry Cavill will come into play later in the story to take over the role of Voldemort/Tom Riddle, Jr. from Ralph Fiennes—trust me, you'll know when it happens).

THANK YOU to the members of The Death Eater Express who planted and nurtured this particular warped little plunnie; you know who you are.

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any affiliated characters & make no profit from this story.

Chapter One

Hermione Granger's death was slow.

It had started the day Ron died, in his botched attempt to flee the Ministry with her and Harry. This gradual decline had, of course, led to things that probably shouldn't have happened. Like at some point during their Horcrux Hunt, she and Harry kept finding their way into one another's beds.

What had started with holding each other as they cried for their dead friend became something they knew was probably best kept to themselves. They would decide how to publicly handle that aspect of their relationship when the War was over, they'd said.

The day of the Battle of Hogwarts arrived, and they fought their hardest. For a few, glimmering moments, when she believed that after all they'd been through they mightactually win, she felt the beat of her heart—stronger than she'd ever been aware of before in her entire life.

But then . . . . Harry fell. And that pounding in her chest seemed to die right there, with him.

And yet, somehow, she continued to breathe.

Her wand hand fell to her side as she stared at the body of her best friend—her soul mate. She could hear the fighting around her, still, but beyond the sight of him at Voldemort's feet, and the sounds of battle, there was nothing. Not the gust of the wind against her skin, not the beat of her pulse through her veins, nor the brush of her wild hair against her cheeks as it fell from its tangled braid.

Not even the fear as the tide of the War turned in that moment, as those on her side—losing their conviction with their champion fallen—surrendered or were killed. She could not even muster any disgust as Voldemort stepped around Harry and made a bee-line for her, catching her chin in his bony and unforgiving fingers.

"Kill me," she said, her voice hollow and her gaze empty as she stared up at him.

The serpentine wizard seemed genuinely intrigued by the witch's lack of emotion. He'd heard many, many things about this one—Harry Potter's precious Mudblood companion, Hermione Granger. He knew perfectly well how large a role this girl had played in nearly ending him, in hindering his plans over these last seven years.

He'd wanted to make her suffer. But there would be no joy for him in the torment of one who no longer had the capacity to experience suffering.

"I think not."

There was the tiniest flicker in the depths of her chestnut eyes at his refusal. Good. She was still in there, somewhere. He just needed to wait her out—and his patience waslegendary. He'd intended to put her to use, anyway.

She could work toward his cause while he waited for her to come back to life.

That had been four months ago.

Now, Hermione stood in the center of the library, surveying her work. She'd spent those months since the War trapped in Hogwarts, her wand taken from her, and tasked with restocking and arranging the reconstructed shelves and sections by-hand, and according to Voldemort's precise order and design.

The students would arrive this evening for the start of the new school year. She knew there was something deeply wrong with expecting anyone to willingly send their child to a school run by Lord Voldemort and his inner circle, but then he'd made no secret that the penalty for any witch or wizard who refused their child's invitation to return to Hogwarts would be a lengthy sentence in Azkaban.

As such, they expected the school filled to capacity tonight.

At first, the logical part of her brain—all that remained the majority of the time in the wake of Harry's death—considered it strange that Voldemort was so very vocal around her about his plans, and his reasoning.

As she was technically part of the staff, she was forced to dine with the Dark Lord and his followers. She never lifted her gaze from her plate, never acknowledged the Death Eaters seated around her, nor Voldemort at the head of the long table.

But she did listen.

She heard when he declared that the only Mudblood in all of Wizarding Britain not in Azkaban was the very special one under his employ. She heard when he'd sentenced the entire Weasley clan to the Kiss in retaliation for Molly's killing of Bellatrix Lestrange.

He'd even decided to switch the quarters of the Gryffindor and Slytherin Houses, expecting that would be a delightful little shock for the students—the proud Gryffindors, finding themselves confined to the dungeons, while Slytherin was set in a lofty tower. This change would not affect her; she had been charged with taking over everything that had once been Madame Pince's, which included the private staff quarters adjacent to the library.

At first, she did wonder why, but quickly enough, she understood that he spoke so openly in front of her because he hoped that something he said might get a reaction from her. That his words and deeds would spark a response he might be able to use against her.

Hermione would simply continue to eat and drink in silence, her empty gaze on her plate until the last bite was gone.

She'd had nothing but the clothes on her back when she was first dragged to the broken-down library. Voldemort tasked Alecto Carrow with stripping the younger witch of anything reminiscent of her Muggle life, leaving her only the barest essentials. As unfriendly about her chore as she was, Alecto had taken some pity on the other witch, seeing to the matter behind the closed doors of the librarian's quarters, and allowing Hermione to borrow the robes left behind in the wardrobe when Madam Pince had been carted off to Azkaban with the rest of the staff and faculty.

As the only female Death Eater now that Bellatrix was gone—leaving her, Narcissa Malfoy, and Hermione as the only women in the castle those long four months— Hermione imagined the slightly mad-eyed witch felt at least a little bit of kinship. Of course, they never said a word to one another, but that was certainly better than nasty comments or awkward conversation others might use to fill the void of silence in the room.

Narcissa wasn't exactly good company, herself, as her willful deceit of Voldemort during the Battle of Hogwarts had nearly lost him the War. She was charged with serving as the school medi-witch. Hermione'd been unaware, but apparently the woman had excelled in healing magic during her time as a student, which was why Voldemort had sent her to check on Harry in the first place. But, when Narcissa was not uttering a spell for the sake of healing or tending the sick, the silencing charm the Dark Lord had placed upon her would take effect, rendering her speechless.

Occasionally, jokes were tossed about during mealtimes, inquiring if a similar charm had been placed on the Mudblood—which was all any of them called Hermione. She wasn't bothered, but she was aware of Narcissa, from the corner of her eye, lowering her already bowed head a little further, still.

The strangest thing was the presence in the library of Draco Malfoy. They, also, never spoke. Every few days or so, he would simply come in, help her with the shelving for a little while, and then leave as quietly as he'd entered.

She would never mention it, but she recalled glimpses of a changed young man during the War. There was the fleeting thought through her head, every now and again, that this was his way of trying to make amends with her in the only way that would not raise the suspicion, or ire, of Voldemort.

With a sigh, Hermione glanced toward the windows. The sky was darkening; the students would be there shortly.

As she rounded the front desk to check one final time that she had everything in order to help any students who would begin their studies tomorrow and need her assistance, Amycus Carrow and Theodore Nott, Sr. strolled in. She didn't even glance up at them—she didn't need to in order to know who it was.

Every day they came in and tried to ruffle her feathers. Every day they walked away disappointed, but still they continued to try.

Of course, their Dark Lord's decree that she was not to be harmed left them only words. And words had stopped bothering Hermione even before she'd lost Harry.


Orias lifted his head at his Lord's call. "My Lord?"

"The students will arrive momentarily. Fetch the Mudblood from her post and bring her to the Great Hall."

Though the Death Eater successfully refrained from rolling his eyes at the command, he hated it. "Of course, My Lord." He offered the Dark Lord a deep bow and started out of the headmaster's office.

When he reached the staircase and began down, well out of the range of Voldemort's hearing, Orias let his head fall back and uttered a pained groan. If there was anything Orias Mulciber disliked, it was boredom, and any time spent in that little witch's presence was the very definition of boring.

If she did more than acknowledge people with bland, conversational statements, or looked upon anything in the world with some flicker of interest in her dull, chestnut eyes, that would be something. But the task was like escorting a living doll about the castle grounds. And of course, he was one of the three assigned to seeing her to one location or another.

Apparently, she had a reputation—once upon a time—for being feisty. Should that reputation rear its head, the Dark Lord wanted the one accompanying her to be someone he could trust to restrain her without causing undue physical damage, as he didn't want magic used on her, either, for some reason or another.

Somehow, he, Rowle, and Dolohov, as the most physically imposing in the Death Eater ranks, were expected by their Lord to be the most aware of their own strength, and thus, the most likely capable of applying only as much strength as absolutely necessary to any given task. He wasn't certain there was logic in that, but then he wasn't about to question Lord Voldemort. Not to his face, anyway.

In private, however, there were quite a few discussions during which his sanity was questioned. They all wondered if achieving the power he'd literally come back from the dead to claim hadn't lost him his sanity as a trade-off.

As he neared the library's door, Orias drew in a sigh, trying to brace himself for the draining effects of being around the Mudblood. But then he heard voices from inside.

"Ever shagged a Mudblood?" Amycus . . . of course. So the other voice had to be—

"Can't say that I have. Wondered if it's any different from shagging a pure-blood, to be honest." Nott.

Dear Merlin, how many times did he have to shoo them away. What the bloody hell was their fascination with trying to get a rise out of her?

"Then I suppose it's just too bad for either of you that pure-bloods have a reputation for being lousy shags."

Orias' brows shot up. That . . . that had certainly been the Mudblood's voice.

"What did you say?" Amycus sputtered out the question in surprise.

"I'm sorry, did I stutter?" She sounded exactly as dull and lifeless as always, but her words . . . . "A Muggle-born witch wouldn't shag either of you with another woman's bits. And, honestly, illiterate Muggles could come up with better shite than you two manage on your best day."

"Why you little—!"

Orias threw open the doors then, just in time to see Theodore Nott, Sr. in mid-reach for his wand. "Enough," he said, his voice booming through the naturally quiet space of the library.

"Mulciber, this little bitch—"

"Sorry, Nott, do you want to tell the Dark Lord you were about to hex the Mudblood, or shall I?"

From the corner of his eye, he could see that the little witch hadn't looked up from whatever duties she was seeing to behind the front desk's partition. There was no color in her cheeks, or lift of her brow . . . nothing to indicate she'd just given Nott a minor tongue lashing.

She hadn't even started when he'd stomped in and shouted.

Nott turned an irritated expression on the mountain of a wizard who filled the space of one of the library's double doors, all on his own. Though Nott wasn't stupid enough to mouth off to Mulciber, he wasn't about to be cowed, either.

"I won't stand for being insulted, Mulciber."

Orias stepped aside and held the door open. "Then you'd best leave, because she might not be finished, and it's our necks if anyone harms her, remember?"

Dropping his arm to his side, Nott gave a nod. "Very well." He looked to Hermione, leaning against the front desk as he said in a hissing whisper, "The second the Dark Lord gets whatever it is he wants from you, you're mine!"

She went about whatever cataloguing she was doing as she said, "Then I do hope on that day you'll bring an instruction manual so you'll know what to do."

"You filthy little—"

"And that's enough of that," Orias said, grabbing the fuming man by the back of his robes and shoving him out into the corridor. Amycus followed without prompting, though he did turn back to gape at the still-docile-seeming witch.

With a sigh and a shake of his head, Orias let the door close in Nott's miserable face.

The girl behind the desk set down her quill and let the scroll she'd been working on roll closed as she lifted her dulled gaze to his. "Would've preferred you showing up a minute sooner."

"And miss the most interesting thing you've done in four months?"

She didn't smile or anything, merely coming around the front desk to stand before him. "Shall we, warden?"

His blue eyes narrowing, he considered her for a moment. "Why did you wait all this time to put him in his place?"

"They've been at this for months, even though I said nothing. I cannot have them behaving this way in front of the students who will need to use this room. I thought perhaps if I changed tactics and said something, they'd get the hint that simply because I am unaffected by their idiotic words does not mean I am someone to be trifled with."

She moved past him toward the door as he thought about that—she could care less about anything else, but she minded their behavior in front of the students?

"So, am I expected to refer to you as Professor, now, since students start—?"

"Hang on." He slipped a hand around her forearm and pulled her to a halt.

She gasped, a shiver running through her at the pressure against her skin. Her breath came up short as she found herself staring up at the Viking of a wizard. . . . . Oh, he . . . he rather does look like a Viking, doesn't he? It was the first true notice she'd taken of anyone since the moment she'd felt her heart stop.

With that sharp intake of breath, Orias noticed the instant flood of color in her cheeks and the rush of life in her eyes. Well, now, she was very interesting, looking up at him like this.

All because he'd grabbed her arm?

The little witch bit her lip, appearing to notice her slip-up. She tried to pull out of his hold, but that only increased the pressure on her skin, forcing her to shiver, once more.

Despite her sudden protests and her attempt to dig her heels in, Orias dragged her closer. He pulled back the sleeve of her robes, revealing a number of small, precise incisions along her forearm in various stages of healing.

"Who did this to you?"

Even as she stared up at him, the vitality in her eyes began to empty, once more, and she offered him a lifeless shrug in answer.

At the return of her dullness, he huffed out an irritated sound and grabbed her arm, again.

Another gasp; another shudder and spark of life washing into her.

He hated to admit it, but the glimpses he was seeing of her just now . . . he could certainly stand to see more. "Who did this to you?"

Hermione drew in a shaky breath, her eyes on his as she said in a trembling whisper. "I—I did."

That he was not expecting to hear. He thought one of his brothers-in-arms had perhaps taken their attempts to get a rise out of her a little too far. "Why?"

"Because . . . ."

When it seemed she would lapse into lifelessness again, he squeezed his fingers against her gashed skin.

She winced, but the noise that tore out of her throat, didn't quite seem like a sound of pain. "Because it's all I can feel."

Orias heard the words, and he supposed in her circumstances they made sense. Yet, the wash of color staining her cheeks and the way her suddenly-lively eyes kept tracing his features . . . .

"Somehow I doubt that."

She swallowed hard, pretending she didn't know what he was talking about. So what if she'd just memorized the shape of his lips beneath his beard, or measured the broadness of his shoulders in her peripheral vision?

"We have to go or your Lord will get suspicious of what's taking you so long to escort me."

He knew she was right. Relinquishing his hold, he grabbed the door and gestured for her to step out into the corridor. "This isn't over, little witch," he said in a hushed whisper.

Hermione kept her gaze on her plate. The few times she'd glanced up, she'd noticed too many familiar faces in the sea of students—reeducation had, in some cases, meant the calling back of recently graduated witches and wizards to correct their previous lessons.

Every time she'd caught the gaze of anyone she'd known, they gave her a pitying looks . . . but their expressions immediately turned wrathful as they then pinned Draco, seated beside her. She understood perfectly well why. She was a victim, but he was viewed as one of the perpetrators of this travesty they were all being forced to live through.

If she could bring herself to care, she might worry for his safety, should their former classmates ever manage to catch him alone.

At some point during Voldemort's lengthy and boring and threatening speech to welcome the new and returning students, she accidentally glanced toward the far end of the table, where her three escorts sat. Orias was in deep, hushed conversation with Thorfinn Rowle and Antonin Dolohov.

They all looked up, catching her attention on them. Orias didn't appear surprised, but the other two were wide-eyed.

Much to her own shock, Hermione could feel that she wanted to respond in some way. Instead, she dropped her attention back to her plate.

But then, a spark of curiosity—something she'd not felt in months—got the better of her. She lifted her gaze to find the three still staring at her.

Before she realized what she was doing, she clamped her hand on her arm and squeezed. She bit her lip to hold in the responding gasp as the strange, flickering thrill from earlier coursed through her, once more.

At the sudden hints of life in her face, Thorfinn's jaw dropped open just a little, Antonin's brows drew upward, and Orias grinned.

By the time Voldemort had finished speaking, she'd stuck her arm beneath the table and drifted back into the dull and lifeless version of herself that she needed to be around the Dark Lord. She was seated right beside him, and she could not afford him to glimpse even a moment of vitality in her.

"Well," he said, nodding toward the students as he resumed his seat. "See some of your friends, do you?"

"I'm sure they're out there." Her tone was empty as she continued, "I haven't bothered to look."

If Voldemort was dissatisfied or impatient with her for her answer, he didn't show it, turning his attention to his own meal.

Hermione ate in silence, as per usual. Yet, unlike usual, she could feel the press of three gazes on her from the far side of the table.