Severus turned and stared at the small figure slumped on the floor, his face impassive as the metallic stench of the blood wafted into the air, assaulted his nose. The air was so thick with it that he could almost taste it. A telling sign that the revel had almost reached its crescendo. He kept his eyes hard as he took in what the Dark Lord had declared his gift, the pièce de résistance designed to cap off the evening with a bang, screams and a visual display so visceral it would be talked about for meetings to come. He knew it was his job to now continue the torture. Of mind, body and soul. By any means necessary. For the delight of the chosen few of course. They wanted a show. A spectacle. Bread and Circuses. They had dined, fuelling their bodies on the finest of foods. They had fed their depravity on the bodies of their victims, and now they were waiting for this final act.

He knew what was expected of him. By the crowd, their excitement barley contained, behind him. By both of his masters. He always did. He knew he was to do all that was crucial in order to maintain his role amongst the Inner Circle, all the while executing the Dark lord's orders as he strived to find balance between horrifically crossing the line that kept him on the side of light, doing all he could for the greater good. He felt his jaw clench, the muscle pulsing once before he let his face fall into his customary scowl, his dark gaze assessing as he bought his time, drawing out the tension until the atmosphere in the room could be cut by a knife. The precious minutes wasted as he glared at her innate, prone form, little more than a mass of dirty hair and filth lying in her own pool of deep crimson blood. It was everywhere, seeping slowly, bleeding her out as he contemplated just how what was to follow would ever be considered acceptable loss, a sacrifice of one for the many. He had no illusions as to what was to happen. To what he had to do. Nor to whom he had to do it. It was the hair, although matted, that had given her away. He lifted his eyes from her naked body, letting his gaze find that of the Dark Lord's. He watched the creature nod, its eyes glittering in delight, a smile stretching the serpentine mouth horrifically, a caricature of the being he had once previously been.

'On with it Severus.' He all but bit out. 'Your passion for dramatics ha been noted.

'As you wish My Lord.' His voice schooled, smooth, his expression neutral as he slowly drew his wand from within his voluminous black robes and lifted it, pointing the tip towards her body. 'Rennervate.' He drawled, over pronouncing each syllable as he drew out the moment once more. He watched her blink as his reviving spell washed over her. He folded his arms across his chest, the action making him appear larger, more bat-like, his robes draping around him to complete the effect as he waited or consciousness to overtake her completely. He the split second awareness resumed, her face screwed up in pain for a brief second before wide, brown terrified eyes met his. 'Welcome back Miss Granger.' He let a smile pull at the corner of his lips as he held her gaze. 'I hope you're having a nice time.' He saw her swallow at his tone as he heard the chuckles of the others behind him. He began to pace, turning to face his audience, his back now to her as he prepared to give them exactly what they had been waiting for. 'For to long now, you and your little friends have remained unchecked. Unpunished.' He let the last word drip form his tongue, the menace behind it adamantly clear. 'But tonight,' he spun to face his victim once more, 'that all changes. Tonight you will be held accountable.' He began to pace towards her, his steps, measured, deliberate. 'I am so looking forward to giving you exactly what you deserve.'

He watched as she attempted to drag her injured, bleeding body backwards from him, her movements, her speed unable to match his gait as he closed the distance, his body towering over hers as she cowered now before him, unable to retreat no further. He crouched down, allowing his robes to engulf her, enfolding her slightly into his embrace. He leant forward shifting further into her space, his action designed to both provoke his audience and allow him to converse solely with her. 'I need you to do exactly as I say Miss Granger,' he whispered, his lips brushing against her ear, 'Can you do that?' He felt her shudder against him, her body trembling as she tried to shrink away. He rocked back on his heels slightly, reaching down he grabbed her face, his grip light despite the way he held his muscles taut for those waiting behind him. He angled her face to his then, allowing him to hold her gaze once more. 'I need you to defy me. Miss Granger. Can you do that? Can you be the insufferable-know-it-all for me?'

It was his voice, quiet, soft that drew her attention fully to him. His expression gentle despite his dominate position over her caused her brow to furrow as she processed his words. Defy him? She nodded once. Oh that she could do. She had every intention to do. To her dying breath. She watched as he leant forward once more, releasing her face, dropping his hands to rest one on her shoulder, the other falling to rest on his thigh. She felt his breath against her cheek as his lips found her ear once more.

'That's a girl. I knew you were still in there somewhere.' He whispered before he rocked backwards again, distancing themselves as he began to laugh, the sound rich, full and so very out of place in the situation. 'You can't fight me, you stupid girl. Just look at where you are.' He gestured to the ballroom behind him, the spectators around them. 'Look at WHO you are. You are pathetic. Inferior.' He turned his gaze and locked dark eyes on hers 'I'll give you one chance to get the upper hand, and then, I will make you so very sorry.'

'Take her Severus.' Lucius' voice echoed in the chamber. 'Finish what we started.'

'Oh yes,' mocked Bella, her voice coming from the Dark Lord's closest vicinity. 'We made her ready for you. So wet.'

He watched the expressions race across the girl's features; confusion, defiance, anger, fear as their treats, their implied taunting reached her consciousness. 'Do it.' He bellowed then, resorting to shocking her into action. 'Hit me. I know you want to.' He watched then as she lifted a hand slowly before suddenly lashing out, her fist connecting with his chest, her body shifting to lunge forward as she found momentum and attempted to shove him out of the way. He caught her easily, wrapping her in his arms, pinning her body against his. 'That's it?' He grinned, as he manoeuvred her bodily under him, trapping her as he lay her out. He heard the groans as his robes draped over her body, shielding her once more from view. 'Scream for me.' He kept his voice loud enough to be heard over the vocalised displeasure as he lifted his body up enough to let him push a hand between them, his palm landing against her ribs, his touch settling against her skin feeling the slickness from the blood, the racing of her pulse. He started a count, as he loomed over her, resting on his elbow as he looked down at her face now contorted in fear.

He dropped his head, leaning closer to her ear, knowing his robes hid what he was doing, his true slightly separated position allowing her space while seeming as though he was encroaching, forcing himself on her, a leg pushed between her thighs, his chest pushed against hers. 'I need you to focus Miss Granger.' He squeezed his hand gently against her ribs, her small intake of breathe confirming his suspicions; her ribs were definitely broken. 'Hermione,' he breathed against her ear. 'Listen to me.' He caught her eyes again, holding her focus. 'I need you to scream.' He nodded as her eyes widened again. 'Now.'

She hesitated for a split second before she felt the increasing pressure on her side, his thumb pushing against her broken rib, pain radiating through her whole body. She opened her mouth and screamed loudly, from pain and shock, her tortured sound cut off as his hand shifted in one rapid movement from her side to her mouth. Her eyes searched his as he sealed off the very sound he had asked her, commanded her, taunted her to make.

'I need you to listen now.' He whispered, his lips back against her cheek, his hair falling against her skin, obscuring them both from view. 'No matter what happens next I need you to stay exactly where you end up.' He felt her shake her head against his hand. He let his body rock as though being fought against. 'But first, I need you to punch me.' He reared back, lifting his torso away from her as he now knelt over her. 'You still think you can fight me girl? You still think you can win?' He hurled down at her. He watched the anger spread across her face, the defiance reaching her eyes as she clenched a fist and tensed her jaw. 'You have nothing. You ARE nothing.'

Hermione grit her teeth together and in one movement she swung her arm, aiming her fist at his nose as she lifted a leg, bringing her knee to connect with his groin. She saw his eyes widen slightly, heard the quick exhale before she felt the sudden movement, his body pinning hers to the ground once more, her hands held down stretched up over her head.

'You will pay for that.' His voice menacing and hard. He raised his body away from her as he lifted a hand back, his wand slipping seamlessly from his robes and into his hand the wood throbbing in his palm as the magic swelled in him. 'Now.' He muttered something under his breath, his robes billowing now as the air began to move violently about them. Her hair whipped into her eyes as a light sparked, there was a crack as he withdrew even further, the girl before him deathly pale, her once brown eyes clouded over. 'Avada Kedavra.' He let the words come loudly as he stood up, rapidly distancing himself from her now stilled body. He turned then to face his audience, their audible gasps filling the silence. He lowered his head. 'I am sorry my Lord.' He kept his voice low, reverent. 'I tried but found I could not bring myself to tolerate that filth any longer.' He bowed lower, his hair flopping to cover his eyes, his wand falling to his side. 'I am sorry if this displeases you.'

'You killed the Mudblood Severus.' Voldemort smiled as he began to circle the body. 'I am most pleased.'