AN: I do not own the rights to Harry Potter, they still belong to JK Rowling, I sometimes wish she'd lend me Lucius from time-to-time.

A big shout out to my beta, Vino Amore, who spotted what was missing and made me write more.

Triggers: Mind Control, Dub-Con, Dark!Grey Hermione, May-December relationships, Attempted Suicide, Actual Suicide, Charming Vodemort, Infedility.

Winter Frost

I didn't know you, but I could see it in your eyes
Shattered dreams and hopes, you'd been hurt too many times

DOKKENJaded Heart

Jaded Heart

There was a lot going on in Hermione Granger's life. It seemed that the Magical world was not all just rainbows and unicorns. In fact the first unicorn she'd seen was dead on it's side. Then again, being friends with Harry Potter was a 24/7 deal. No one could say that it was an easy job t0 have, Harry was high maintenance, for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons; a pretty big one, was that he was Undesirable No1, he was the half-blood son of a prestigious family. His family made money in the patency of all sorts of potions, not to mention the portion Black left him. Yet all that gold would not stop the Darkest Lord of all time, hunting for his blood.

Her second problem was a certain red-haired nit-wit who had the nerve to leave her and Harry to fend for themselves, shivering in the cold, in a cabbage scented tent. The bloody bastard, she hoped that if he decided to show some backbone and come back to them he'd think to bring some flipping food with him. Hermione was disgusted with Ronald's attitude. It had served to cool her ardour for him.

Things were bad for another reason: Harry was sulking around her because she had accidentally broken his wand in the scuffle at the late Bathilda Bagshot's house. Nagini, she might have known. How else could he hear the voice and not she – yet, as ever, she followed where he led – what did she get for her troubles? A stroppy Harry. She could understand Professor Snape's frustration with him, the disrespect he had shown to her, who had been nothing but a friend irked her and she was reaching boiling point.

"Who am I, then?" she muttered as she angrily stormed further into the woods. "The spare!" she snarled kicking at some tree roots. "That is all I ever will be, a spare!"

It was a particularly hilly section of the Forest of Dean, she and Harry found themselves in. Last night, whilst Harry was sleeping, Hermione found she had taken them between a quaint village called Bream, and a sort of tired looking town called Lydney.

The part she came across looked like a part of an abandoned mine, moss and lichen covered over giant boulders, sparkling with ice. Hermione wondered at the beauty of the green held within the diamanté gleam of the frost on the rough-hewed stone surfaces. An ethereal contrast that reminded her of a certain Slytherin alumni's eyes.

The entire area was surrounded by trees. Light would not reach this place in Summer, Hermione thought as she looked up to the sky. There was a slight slope, she still had some anger to work out so she decided to climb further up the incline. Getting further and further away from her tents, and wards. Leaving herself open to anyone who may find her. There she came upon a frozen stream and stared around for a tree to settle against. She did and slipped down the trunk landing on her rear in sharp thump that caused her to wince.

"MONTY!" A girl's voice yelled. She sounds like she is of my age, Hermione sighed, "MONTY, GET BACK HERE!"

Cautiously, Hermione peered around the tree trunk and, indeed, did see a teenage girl, holding what looked like a leather lead, and a big floppy King Charles Spaniel rushing through the dead forest. They were dangerously near. Still, she was a muggle, and Hermione did not want to harm her.

"Monteith Montgomery De Montfort, will you, for once, do as you're told and HEEL!"

Enviously, Hermione watched this girl. This ordinary muggle girl with seemingly ordinary problems walking her admittedly handsome dog, no wonder at the long name, it suited him. She allowed a small smile to come through at the scene. She wished she could join them. Talk to the girl, see what things she liked, if they had anything in common. Yet, she knew she couldn't. Slowly, she turned around and began sobbing. The Locket had slipped from it's place underneath her scarf. It was harder to keep stoic, to go through this journey, when she caught snippets of normality.

She did not notice a tear fall from her eye onto the locket, nor the light green glow as it seemed to absorb the tear. The girl huffed as she fussed her pet behind the long flopping curly ears, Hermione really wished she could do that. The dog looked dopey as heck.

"Oh, Monty, what are we gonna do with you, eh?" the girl laughed.

The dog's pants could be heard where Hermione was hiding. She watched as the girl turned on her heel and walked back the way she came. Waiting until she was definitely out of sight before she even allowed herself to breathe properly.

"Why me?" she asked herself bumping the back of her head against the trunk rolling her eyes. "Why does it have to be me? I was supposed to be Head Girl. I should be studying for my N.E. . I should be curling up in a squishy red chair, with a book, a big cup of hot chocolate, some biscuits and Crookshanks on my lap purring heavily," if she was guilty about her bout of self-pity it did not show. Hermione felt entitled to a moment of selfishness. "I should be writing a thank you letter to the Weasley's for a lovely jumper, the home-made flapjack, and quills. I should be thanking McGonagall for the new books she purchased for me."

More tears fell and hit the locket, the glow appeared again, still unnoticed by Hermione as she continued monologuing to the trees it seemed. Wet lashes drooped as more slipped down her cheeks. Still she did not notice the glow it emitted when the saltwater fell from her eyes. She could feel the start of a sobbing fit and decided it was worthless to try and control it. People should be able to cry in privacy. For her it was the only time to show this sort of emotion.

"I sh-should be looking forward to s-seeing my p-parents," here she broke down.

Shoulders shook with the force of emotion. Pearly droplets continued their descent onto the Locket. It was absorbing each and every one, soaking them in like a sponge. The green glow darkened with each and every part of her she unwittingly sacrificed to it. She did not feel guilty for probably causing Harry concern. He seemed to prefer Ron over her so she doubted he'd think twice about her if she left him. Eventually she wiped the tears from her face.

"I wish things were the way they should be," she shuddered out. "Is that really so awful of me to... for me to be that... I could be so... so... selfish?"

It was only now she saw the pendant dangling over her top rather than tucked in, like it was supposed to be. Instead of re tucking the pendant back into her scarf she laid the locket in the palm of her hand. Her tears of pity were converted to ones of anger as she curled her hand over the metal forming a fist.

"This is all your fault!" she spat shaking the fist.

Silently, she wished she could just throw the bloody thing away but she knew that would not work. Like the one ring – there will always be someone who would hear it – and it could be a Muggle; she thought about that girl. Clearly a local, as she felt comfortable here, what if she found it? No, Hermione could not throw it away. Instead, she berated herself for her moment of weakness, as she continued staring at the hexed jewellery.

"You really think Salazar Slytherin would have approved, because I do not," she affected her bossiest tone she could muster. "He would have wanted you to do great things, yes, but he would also have rather you found a way to bring the Slytherin line back to the way he desired it. I doubt he'd want this," tears just streamed out of her, there was so much tormenting her heart lately that it felt good to finally let it all out. "I know you are a complicated wizard, but why? Why did you feel this was necessary?"

She willed in her heart that she could hear an answer come from it. Gods, it nattered enough in her head when she slept with it on, but wide-awake and it was as silent as the grave. Hermione refused to give into frustration. Instead she squared her shoulders and tried to bring back her logical side. The one that always won out in the end. None of her emotional decisions caused her any happiness.

"What is it like to not feel?" she asked it. "To not have love in your heart? To not know what it is to have someone like you for you and not what they can get out of you?" A deep sigh left her as she rolled the locket around her forefinger and thumb. "What is that like? I have a good imagination but even I cannot put myself in that black hole, that nothingness inside. Does the sound of the first birds in spring make you happy? Or does it make you wish you could kill all birds and Spring while you are at it?"

She hugged her knees into her chest, resting her chin on the perch they created whilst holding the locket directly in front of her eyes. Scrutinising the trinket: "It's a shame, you sounded like someone I could have talked to," her eyes misted over. "When I found your picture in the Year Books, you were stunningly beautiful. I suppose it is true what they say about fallen Angels," she raised the locket to her mouth and brushed the cool metal against her chapped lips. "Why?" she asked. "So handsome, full of ideals, clever, you could have been content in taking the world a bit at a time – you had the charm to do so, Tom," the muggle name fell from her lips in a shudder of emotions as she tried to fight off the last of her tears. "Imagine us taking study sessions together in the library," she whispered. "Walking around the Lake above your common Room to discuss the latest content in such and such a journal. Maybe even," she blushed at the thought, "hand-in-hand, we'd have been... oh what is the use of fantasising, not one of my dreams so far seems to have come true."

"Why Miss Granger, no truer words ever were spoken!"

Hermione, startled over hearing the slightly high pitched sibilant tone. Definitely different to the coffee and cream of the Horcrux whisper in her ear. Immediately she tried to reach for her wand before realising Harry had it – his need for one was greater than hers – so she thought.

"H-How I-I..."

"Did you cry?" he softened his tone to try and keep her calm.

The Dark Lord, for it was he, stooped down to her level. Watching with light amusement as she used her hands in a backwards scuttle. Observing how her eyes widened in fear. Normally, he would have smirked, but he did not want this witch to be afraid of him. It seems he'd have to bring Tom out to play.

"Y-yes. I did," she stammered. "W-what of it?"

"You gave a piece of yourself to the Horcrux, it accepted the sacrifice and you said the name I went by when it was created," he smiled kindly. A small lift of his shoulder was to affect an air of self-deprecation, this was spoiled though, as a small smirk spread across his lips. "You spoke to my Horcrux therefore you were speaking to me. I came to you upon the moment the tears were accepted, I have heard all your musings to Tom."

"So," she tried to sound brave. "That's it, I'm dead," she sighed despondently. "I..." she was stopped by a sound from her companion/enemy.

A deep chuckle emanated from deep within and lightened the red eyes to an almost pinkish hue. Hermione gulped down her fears as the Darkest Lord of all stood over her, giggling like she made the best joke in all history. This annoyed her so she frowned at him.

"No," he sighed as he raked his gaze over her body. Yes, this definitely called for Tom. "Dear one," he sighed, his tone had deepened slightly. "You are not to be killed by me, I have other fish to fry."

"So you're going to foist me on one of your Death Eaters?"

"Wrong again, Miss Granger," he sighed as he glided up to her.

"Torture me?"

Lord Voldemort rolled his eyes and offered his hand: "Unless you wish to freeze to the forest floor, I suggest you accept my hand."

Hermione chewed this over. After some deliberation, she bravely let him stand her up the Muggle way, rolling her eyes as she did so to prove she was not buying his Nice Guy act. Once on her feet she narrowed her eyes at him. He continued looking at her with unconcealed smugness, Hermione began to feel little in his presence, her eyes darted to find a way to escape.

"So," she sighed as she worried her lower lip, a habit that proved her youth to him, still he did find it endearing. "To sum up, you do not want to kill me or torture me, and you also do not wish to hand me over to one of your Death Eaters to do so either."

"Correct, Miss Granger," he was amused. It was refreshing to have someone actively trying to guess his motive.

"It more than likely has something to do with this," she picked up the locket, laying the pendant in the gloved palm of her hand. "Your Horcrux?"

"Perhaps," he gave nothing away. "I love guessing games when I am not made to be the player, by all means, continue hypothesising Miss Granger."

She moved awkwardly in her spot, shifting her weight from side-to-side as she felt trapped by this Wizard, power came from him in waves. Like the water at tide on the beach, increasing and decreasing. Waxing and waning like the moon in the sky. Strangely enough Hermione felt herself revelling in the strength of his Magical might as it orbited around her like the sun does the Earth. He was the fiery sun to her insignificant Earth. The one she must respect more than anyone else. Hermione knew she could learn from him. Lean on him. Hermione felt as if she had not seen Magic until this day. He surrounded her soul spiritually and Hermione suddenly held the desire to cocoon herself within the comforting nebulous of the one who awakened her senses; Lord Voldemort, who seemed to be unaware that he was wrapping his metaphorical self around her.

He stood there with his arms crossed, casually leaning against a tree, as his eyes roved up and down her wool clad body. She was magnificent, he thought, truly wonderful. It was said that the eyes are the window to the soul. If that was the case, he could peruse her soul all day long. Like him, she was an enigma, she did not fit neatly into a category. This alone made her an immediate interest of his. She may be small in stature, but there was such power bursting for release, her magic was frustrated with no outlet. Mingled with a willingness to learn, he gleaned that much from Severus, and she aimed for success. A soupçon of ambition interspersed with the aim to please, he sighed, oh how he could utilise that quality to its utter limit. She was right, he could see them debating well into the night over journals, essays as they drank wine in bed. Bed... Yes, she was worthy of that honour. Pleasure could be fulfilled in a variety of delicious ways and he was prepared to even show the dark side to lust.

He was always on the lookout for new Soldiers, new trainees, new disciples of the dark. This little muggleborn witch before him held so much potential. Immediately upon his arrival he could sense her adumbral aura; vague, spectral, there but hazily indistinct. The witch held within her the potential to be someone under his guidance. Calming himself as he glimpsed at the pinhole sized, jet shade of her soul. Delving into the depths of her crepuscular core soothed his own centre. She had been tainted by the Dark, he discovered in her presence, it suited her well. Not all wizards and witches were suited for the Dark Arts, yet this muggleborn had already tentatively welcomed the Dark in.

"Any more guesses, my dear?"

Hermione suddenly drew herself to her fullest height, squared her shoulders, and looked him directly in the eye. Bravely facing him, even if there was a slight tremor to her hands, a small timorous shiver in her body. Her voice was clear and calm as she spoke. He adored the way her eyes sparkled like a smooth cup of coffee whilst her little chin jutted out defiantly at him.

"I am not going to betray Harry!"

"Hmm," he mused as he tapped his middle finger on his lips, making her nervous with his pretence at considering that statement. "That could have been a possibility."

"I mean it, sir!"

He loved to hear her state her respect without a quibble. This girl may aim to please but she was not a sycophantic coward. He'd had them by the score. This one had a different sort of potential. A Queen, a Warrior, she was not a simpering dolt.

"Calm yourself, Miss Granger, I was only teasing," his smile was not for the faint of heart and Hermione was not weakened by fear at the sight of it. She looked at him warily as he continued being reasonable with her. "I am not going to ask that of you," he stepped closer towards her. Hermione's feet tried to sluggishly step back, but her legs and brain seemed to have had an argument, causing her to remain where she was. Once he was directly in front of her, red eyes boring into her cinnamon orbs, he reached his arm up and, with his index finger, he tilted her chin up. "In fact, your loyalty is what I admire most about you."

She held in a deep breath as he moved his other hand; using his fingernails to push aside a lock of curly hair that had escaped her woollen fair-isle bobble hat, tenderly tucking it back inside. Her lips parted where air spiralled in clouds in front of them. He was gazing fondly at her, like he had lost her a long time ago and found her by accident. Hermione was aware of whom she was in company with, but she just wanted to stay there, to talk to him. There never would be another opportunity again. Curiosity killed the cat, and boy was Hermione as curious about the Dark Lord, she wanted to hear things from his perspective. Damn her inquisitive nature but she could not stop herself. This was the most dangerous wizard alive, and yet, all se wanted to do was get to know him.

"I-I d-did not m-mean..." she stammered. "I-I a-am... I-I..."

He laid another finger over her quivering lips as he tilted his head to the side. Now he was closer to her, touching her, the inner-gloom of her core seemed to call to him, singing its siren song for his ears only. Yes, the Dark was calling to him to free it. To allow it this witch. Yes, he knew exactly what he wanted from her now. The research he had read about her was enough to intrigue him. Now he was face-to-face with her, there was so much more he wished to know. All of it could lead to something so much more. Age did not matter when one strove for immortality. It bothered him little. Confidently, he brushed her lips with the tips of his fingers, trailing the nails along her jawline and down her neck. Ending at the base of her skull, where stray curls coiled around his hand and wrist. Closing his eyes he breathed in the redolence of the jaded heart.

"What am I going to do with you, Miss Granger?" he asked. If she could, Hermione would have laughed as his words mirrored the Muggle girl's to her dog. That was what she was to him. A pet dog. "Oh not quite that lowly, you are, after all, a witch of great potential. I do research my enemies thoroughly, and I feel that you and I would do well to have a discussion. Besides, I can feel you are as curious about me as I am about you?"

Hermione gulped. "About what?" she murmured. He arched a brow. "What do you wish to discuss?" her stammer lost now.

The Dark Lord noticed how she immediately humbled herself before him. Irritated by the bow of her head meekly tilted down. Aggravated by her muted, respectful tone. Annoyed how her posture was without poise. Normally, he would have found this delicious. From his past observations he noted that she was a proud witch. She did not care what was said about her. He hid his disappointment as he watched the defiance leave the young witch, now she resembled a frightened rabbit to his predatory fox, that would have to change.

He had to put her at ease somehow. If he could bargain to make an exception for Lily Evans, he most certainly could make one for this wonderful, powerful little thing in front of him. To his mind she was far superior to that ungrateful crow anyhow, and to this day could not fathom Severus' fascination with her, when there were witches of the same ilk with far more panache to them. Now Tom make your appearance, the Dark Lord's aspect changed. He was now affecting a debonair mien and a nonchalant stance.

"To talk of other things," he said. "Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings," he quoted.

"Alice Through The Looking Glass," she offered a small smile. He began to like making her blush. The Horcruxes did not un-man him in the least. In fact those urges were more visceral in nature. Tom loved that side-effect. "I knew that story off by heart at 6."

"So, what is the next line then, my dear lioness?"

"Why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings, I think," she blushed.

"Now," he had taken her hand without her noticing. Whilst she was quoting he trailed one hand down her arm, surreptitiously distracting her, so he could lace his long digits within her tiny elegant fingers. "Why do we not go somewhere warmer," Hermione gulped as she remembered Harry. "Where there is food and drink, you need some looking after do you not?"

"I am not going anywhere with you!" her mind and defiance had returned.

Noting their entwined hands, she tried to shove him away but he held firm. He was stronger than her and she eventually stopped struggling. She wanted to scream but found she couldn't. For some reason she was here, with the Dark Lord, who was being somewhat charming around her and liking his company. Was there something wrong with that? Hermione knew there should be but she was finding it hard to care.

"I am afraid, my dear, you do not have a choice," Lord Voldemort smiled. Lazily stroking a finger down her cheek, leaving her skin tingling in its wake, leaving the digit on the softest flesh of her throat. "It is not often I find a natural Dryad in this country, not one that is as challenging and intelligent as you are, nor one as pleasing to the eye."

Hermione found a tightening of an arm around her waist. "I d-don't th-think..."

"Shush, my dear, how is this then," he pulled her firmly against his body enjoying how she felt in his embrace. He especially loved how she wriggled and squirmed. "I, Lord Voldemort, do make a promise that neither I – nor my followers – shall treat Hermione Jean Granger with scorn, disrespect, or derision – I shall abide by this contract and expect my followers to treat her as if she were..." he halted as to what to say then he smiled. "My Queen!"

"I, Hermione Jean Granger, do hold thee; Lord Voldemort, to thy promise. On my own Magic, I swear to treat you the same as thou treats me. I do agree on the condition my friend and brother by choice, Harry James Potter, will not ever be harmed during our Peace Treaty. Set in accord by Lord Voldemort and agreed upon by Hermione Jean Granger," she said, holding her hand out. "Do you, Lord Voldemort, agree to my decree of this Vow of Peace?"

"I do agree to all terms set forth within the Vow of Peace to thee, Hermione Jean Granger," the Dark Lord smiled almost kindly. "As you shall be under my, Lord Voldemort's, protection – so shall it be done!"

The effect was instantaneous as they shook hands as their magic took a tangible quality. Hermione watched, awestruck by the colours surrounding them as the vow took hold. Mesmerised by the gold and silver swirls mingling within an emerald cloud that whirled vehemently around them. The phenomena stopped as suddenly as it started. Hermione turned her head finding herself under his intense scrutiny.

Dark eyes met her, deliciously Orphic, as enticing as coffee clouds over a chocolate scent. His complexion was a little more pink than blue or white. What had he done? No. What had she done? What had they done? Suddenly she found herself pulled toward him and he turned her around so her back was pressed against his chest, long arms trapped her to his body, the way a boa constrictor coils around its prey.

"We have just entered a binding Magical Contract," he murmured. "I shall treat you now as my equal, which is why I said Queen," his lips spoke close to her ear. She shuddered happily as she was still euphoric over the magic that they had invoked. "Only a witch I consider an equal would be my Queen," he pressed his surprisingly warm lips against the shell of her ear. Enjoying how her chest expanded with her heavy breaths. Adrenaline coursed through their veins. He wished to take her now but this one needed the darkness coaxed and seduced slowly into her. "My followers will know better than to desecrate you on this day."

"What day is it, exactly?" she gulped.

"My dear Hermione," the tongue flickered out with the changing of syllables in her name against the highest end of her cheek bone. "It's Christmas, of course," he was almost purring. "Come, the Malfoys always put on an excellent feast at Christmas time. Oh do not worry about how you will be treated, my followers know how I would react if they so much as hissed that word within fifty feet of you."

Suddenly, Hermione found she trusted him. Trusted his word to keep her safe. "Well," she sighed trying to be as nonchalant as one could be when pressed against the most wand happy Wizard in all of History, "they do say the safest place during a tempest is to be in the eye of it."

"Ah, that's the spirit," he smirked against the soft flesh of her neck flicking his tongue out. Delighted to discover that she tasted sinfully good; red wine, cinnamon, oranges and dark chocolate. He frowned slightly as he remembered the one and only other time he inhaled that mixture of scents. Merlin, he grinned against her neck, she was his Armontentia! Charm may not be needed. "When I was your age that would have been regarded as the Bull Dog or the Churchillian spirit."

"My grandfather was a fighter pilot in that war," she said trying to keep her voice even and controlled. "I guess some things are in the blood, though I would have to be Artillery or Logistics."

Lord Voldemort smiled properly then. Ecstatically thrilled that he had found her before his thugs did. He knew how to charm. Even in this form he could, so long as he coaxed Tom out to play, Tom clearly liked this witch. He intended to keep his vow to the letter and the first Death Eater to so much as sneer at her would be Avada Kedavared on the spot. Happy Christmas to me, he smirked as he breathed in more of her scent, if I play my wits well, it will be a happy birthday too.

"Now, how do you feel about flying?" he whispered in her ear.

Hermione did not like that his hands had found themselves under her many layers to her skin. Butterflies fluttered, nerves were on edge, sparks ignited under his warm touch. She fidgeted a little as one long finger edged further up to her breasts whilst another fiddled with her jean button. He loved how she squirmed in his arms trying to loosen his hold on her. He responded by tightening his hold more and by reaching further up towards her breast.

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"Let's ascend the trees and float amongst the clouds," he said as he prepared himself and the witch with him.

"What – I..."

Before she could finish her refusal, she was caught in an inky black swirl of cloud, floating miles above the trees. Hermione wanted to scream. She hung on for dear life as he held her in his arms. She closed her eyes and wondered if Aled Jones had a sadistic streak in him. Walking in the Air indeed, she sneered, trying to hide her fear. This is terrifying. At least Aled had a friendly Snowman. I've got a bloody Dark Lord!

"Don't worry," he murmured as they continued to glide amongst the iron grey clouds. "You are too precious for me to let go."

Far too precious, he mused, I have been waiting a long time for this moment. Lord Voldemort conveniently evaded one issue about the contract he'd entered into with the little witch. He could not wait for the look on her face when she found out she'd been tricked. Or, as he wished to view it, subtly told the right direction her life should take. To the casual observer it would seem they had entered into a rather one-sided bargain with him bearing the brunt of it. A Slytherin though would have listened carefully for what was unsaid in the process.

They landed in a whirlwind of black smoke in front of an ancient home. Hermione guessed 12th or 13th Century. White peacocks graced the fields as a smoky haze shimmered from the ground, a beautiful spectre to increase the fear. Wherever she was, she knew the wards would not welcome her in, Hermione cringed further into her captor's embrace.

"Malfoy Manor," Lord Voldemort tickled her ear answering her unasked query. "I have a feeling this is going to prove most informative and definitely tortuous for all my followers."

So, this is Malfoy Manor? "It's beautiful," she sighed. No wonder Draco always boasted. "I can feel the wards – one of them wants to burn me."

"You are safe and with me," the Dark Lord said. "I have placed a distraction charm on you so the Wards will become confused."

Hermione's legs wobbled beneath her, weakened from the flight eastwards from her camp, and tired from the cold air. Also, she found it exhausting being in Lord Voldemort's presence. The months on the run. The lack of food. The emotional trauma she'd expelled from her system before the Dark Lord arrived. Hurting as she watched the girl her age play with her pet. The inner discoveries. Along with the knowledge that she was close to a cabal of people who wanted her dead. She just wanted to sleep, perhaps when she awoke, she'd be back in the tent with Harry.

It was all too much, even for Hermione to take, she swooned against the body of Lord Voldemort. Unaware now of anything happening around them, Hermione laid limp in his embrace. Lord Voldemort grinned fondly upon her comatose form in his grasp. Tenderly, he lifted her by the back of her legs and held firmly to her as he strode into the foyer of Malfoy Manor.

Sensing the wards being weakened Lucius was already standing there, with his wife, son and sister-in-law. He rolled his eyes. It was wise of the girl to faint in his Lord's arms before rather than now.

"WHAT IS THAT!" Yelled Bellatrix. Suddenly she recognised the girl in her Lord's arms. "Is there to be a revel, My Lord?" her dark eyes glittered like black ice.

The Dark Lord ignored Bellatrix and turned to the calmly elegant Mistress of the Manor, Narcissa: "My dear Narcissa," he said warmly. "I must ask you to accommodate Miss Granger – situate her in the rooms next to mine – offer her the finest Malfoy hospitality for she shall be dining with us," he fixed his gaze firmly at Bellatrix, "as an equal," he said in a tone that brooked no argument but certainly a lot of pouting. "There is more to tell but not yet – Lucius, Draco, follow me!"

"My Lord, what am I to do?" Bellatrix curtsied so low it sickened Voldemort but as he past his most faithful, he laid a hand on her head, as he usually did. "You may help your sister, preparing our guest. She must be the jewel amongst the crowd, I have an announcement to make."

"Are we not to be aware of the nature of this announcement, my Lord?" Lucius asked, "So my wife will better understand the nature of our guest's attire and etiquette?"

"It shall be revealed in good time, Lucius, all shall be revealed in good time. Bellatrix – are you with me?"

"Yes, my Lord," Bella snarled.

So she was reduced to the status of a dress maid to a Mud... Ouch, what was that? She reached up and touched her neck as she thought that slur. What had happened between her Lord and this... Ow, again? Bellatrix glared hatefully at the witch in her Lord's arms.

"Oh and it is incumbent upon me to inform all of you," he fixed each and everyone with a firm, stern gaze, "that none of you are to call her that term of which you, Bella, are especially fond of. She is to be considered as you would regard me, her orders are my orders – if she does not want to wear a dress, find another to her liking – I want her in the splendour she deserves and desires."

"Yes, My Lord!" they mumbled.

"I must be slightly deaf for I swore I saw your lips move but the only one I heard with absolute clarity was Narcissa," he pointed his wand at Bella, Lucius and Draco in turn. "Now say it and mean it!" he snarled.

"Yes, My Lord!" the voices were louder but Bella still sounded insincere in her acquiescence. "Bella, why does your insubordination not surprise me?" he sighed as he silkily drawled out a Crucio as if he was handing her a cookie. Bella twisted and writhed in agony. Pride in her blood and status as a Death Eater were her downfall in this regard for she refused to wince or scream. "CRUCIO!" he yelled eyes glowing bright red under the darkness of the torture. After five minutes he lifted the spell: "Next time," he knelt down to Bella's level. Taking pleasure at the sight of her frothing at the mouth. It was short-lived by the way she stared at him with such wide-eyed devotion he turned away in disgust: "I will leave it on you for 10 minutes, is that understood, Bellatrix?"

"Y-yes M-My L-Lord," her teeth chattered as she continued gazing in admiration. "I-I s-shall d-do a-as y-you c-command and treat Miss Granger with respect as I would you, my Lord."

"Good, does anyone else have any objections?"

The Malfoy men paled more than usual and shook their heads in silent obeisance. One the Dark Lord much preferred. Narcissa had picked up Hermione when her Lord put her down considerately on the floor.

"My Lord," Narcissa said. Elegantly bowing before him as she kept her tight hold on the limp girl in her arms. "The girl weighs nothing is she to be permitted food and drink?"

"Anything she desires she is to be given," he smiled down at Narcissa, yes she deviated from his original plan, but she was such a pleasant witch. Bellatrix was his favourite at one time but he'd switched to Narcissa as he observed her bare her downfall with dignity. For that alone, she deserved his respect. "Even if that means Draco," he looked at the young man who's eyes glittered hopefully. "Lucius," the older wizard affected a disinterested air, yet he was not fooling anyone, he wished to sample the young Gryffindor's carnal delights, "or," he fixed Bellatrix with such a spiteful sneer that she coward and trembled before him, "even Rodolphus."

"Yes my Lord."

The Dark Lord stroked Narcissa's cheeks fondly. "You have done well, my sweet little child," Narcissa kept her eyes lowered, on her knees. "Allow your mother's heart to take over for you and think of how you would like her mother to treat your son, Narcissa!"

"As you wish, so it shall be done," Narcissa murmured politely.

Bellatrix did not like this one iota but she was nothing if not loyal and if her Lord wanted them to play nice with the.. the... what was going on? Another short, sharp, shock whipped at her. Not saying the word was different to thinking it surely? Yet, as she did think on the word again to test her theory, another spark lashed viciously against her throat.

Oh, so her Lord entered a properly binding contract. They could not hurt the little... b.r... buurrr... buurrattt brat, wow – that was hard. Bellatrix did not wish to speak a slur if it took that much effort to think it. Well, so her Lord was forcing her to play nice. She wondered what she had done to so disappoint her Lord.

"Why do you suppose our Lord is doing this, Cissy?" Bellatrix asked her sister.

The elegant blonde woman shook her head: "I do not know but we had all best do as our Lord commands," Narcissa advised. "I, for one, want to stay alive through this. So you had best put your interest in him aside for now and behave."

Bella sulked, hating it when Narcissa was right!

Hermione awoke later in a darkened room, on a soft bed, and the sounds of a bath being run. A rustling of skirts, mixed with voices muttering in harsh, rough whispers, showed that she was not alone. She vaguely recognised one of the voices but she did not hear it well enough to place a name to it. Groggily, she looked around and discovered she was in an opulent bedchamber, on a bed of silk and feathers, and a bathroom adjacent to the bedroom.

Immediately, she sat up, regretting her actions as her head pounded and the room swayed violently in her vision, she flopped back down on the bed. A cornucopia of questions assaulted her brain.

Where was she? Was she in a vivid dream? Perhaps a nightmare that had yet to occur? More likely the latter, as she could only recall one thing: The last person to have been with her was the Dark Lord. That meant these voices belonged to followers. Followers who would kill her before they would look at her.

Hermione gulped in fright as she fumbled for her wand and panicked when she could not find it.

Helpless, alone, and likely to die. Hermione refused to cry...

AN: This will be Hermione multi. What do you think the Dark Lord meant by Queen? What will the reactions be to others of the inner-circle? What wasn't said by the vow he made. And what will Harry do now he is all alone? Answers in a review, please? Failing that, a postcard will do the trick...

Side Note: I also have a Live Journal account, SilverLioness80 if any of you also use LJ, feel free to friend me.