Hey, everyone!

This is my first fanfiction. I wrote this piece because I hadn't come across anything quite like it, and if you can't find it, make it yourself!

Obviously, I do not own anything affiliated with Harry Potter. This piece is purely for my own enjoyment, and hopefully, the enjoyment of other die-hard Potterheads like myself!


Even after joining the wizarding world, Hermione Granger felt like an outsider. She was ridiculed for her intellect, her looks, and her blood status. Even surrounded by her peers at Hogwarts, she decided to suppress her magical abilities. I would never have friends if I was considered threatening, she told herself.

Of course, it took a lot of energy and concentration to preserve the carefully fortified walls surrounding the majority of her power. As a result, Hermione maintained a level of vigilance that would have made Mad-Eye Moody proud.

She had only slipped a few times in her six-year tenure at Hogwarts, but she had been lucky; no one had ever been seriously injured. Sure, she had almost turned Snape into a very greasy human torch at their very first Quidditch game before regaining control, and yes, she blew apart Flitwick's office from atop a Hippogriff when helping Sirius escape (she had meant to simply give the window a good magical shove). Even these minor lapses had her terrified she would be found out; a feeling that only intensified over time.

By the time she reached her magical maturity at seventeen, she had perfected her innocent fa├žade. She was simply the bookish best friend of Harry Potter, and not of any real concern.

The year of horcrux hunting had been rough. She had bound, gagged, and stuffed down the full scope of her magical abilities so thoroughly that anything short of a complete loss of her faculties would not make a dent in her defenses.

Hermione hadn't planned on the torture.

She hadn't planned on the sensation of every nerve ending on her body turning white-hot, hadn't anticipated the feeling of her skin burning itself on her molten bones from the inside out, hadn't realized what it would taste like when she bit through her own tongue in a futile attempt to quell the screams ripping through her throat.

"I swear we haven't taken anything! We didn't! No!"

"Lying, filthy mudblood! CRUCIO!"

Round after merciless round of the Cruciatus Curse reduced Hermione to a quaking, shuttering mess on the floor of the manor, her body broken and incapable of any function beyond the occasional whisper of oxygen in her lungs and the pitiful heartbeat in her chest.

The worst, however, was the cursed blade Bellatrix produced from deep in her robes.

Its twisted blade of obsidian seemed to reflect the crazed look in the eyes of Voldemort's lieutenant, the curve of the handle mirroring the sneer of triumph that contorted Bellatrix's colorless lips.

Hermione had assumed she was meant to be stabbed to death with an instrument as cruel as the one between the fingers of the Dark witch.

Bellatrix likes to play with her food before she eats it, a voice in the back of her mind recalled, And playtime isn't over yet.

The same time as comprehension dawned in a small corner of Hermione's brain, Bellatrix pounced, pinning Hermione to the cold and unyielding marble, the toe of a boot digging into her wrist jarring Hermione out of her pain-induced stupor.

The blade was there for effect, the curse was for the real pain.

Every cell in Hermione's body cried out as the magical current within the dagger penetrated the pale skin of her left forearm like ink for a tattoo.

But this would not result in the image of a colorful butterfly, rather a permanent brand screaming the most hateful word Bellatrix had in her lexicon- MUDBLOOD.

OUTCAST.

UNWORTHY.

SULLIED.

FILTHY.

It stood for the bigotry and hatred in a wizarding world that would never accept her, a community in which Hermione would always be second-class, undeserving, and unfit to practice magic.

As her ribs protested the weight of her torturer, she wanted to scream, but no sound would come out. Each swipe of the dagger was pure agony, and the pain blocked out every other sense. In that moment, there was nothing but the tearing of her flesh, and the scorching sparks of the curse running through her veins.

Bellatrix released her, but the blinding, mind-numbing shocks kept coming, and all she could do was lie motionless upon the floor, staring unseeingly at the chandelier above.

A small corner of Hermione's mind registered spellfire, and she felt rigid hands seize her shoulders and grasp her hair painfully, forcing her head back, but it was all overshadowed by the return of the blade to the skin below her jaw, pressing into her pounding pulse point as the curse once again imbued her skin with extreme pain.

She saw the floor come up to meet her as Bellatrix threw her forward, and sensed the gentle hold of someone pulling her into their arms, but the stress had become too much, and black clouded the edges of her vision as she slipped into unconsciousness.

Malfoy Manor, while incredibly traumatic, had given her a new lease on life. After all, if she hadn't buried her true magical power, she could have prevented the situation altogether. She wouldn't flinch any time someone touched her, wouldn't cringe any time a wand was raised, wouldn't feel immensely guilty for having caused the death of Dobby in her rescue.

But now, she didn't really care about being found out, about being abandoned by her friends if she was seen as threatening. Hermione Granger didn't care if her limitless power, probably rivaling (if not surpassing) Dumbledore himself, sent people running for the hills.

She didn't care if her friends were scared of her, as long as they were safe.

Deep down, she knew Ron and Harry would love her anyway, would die for her, as she would die for them, but even when she displayed her full power, they didn't seem to realize the vast difference.

Did they seriously think the average witch could cast a Catching Charm (Arresto Momentum), wandlessly, while plummeting from an immense height, and manage to cover no less than three other people?

Did they actually believe you could just fly around Fiendfyre and remain unscathed?

How did they rectify the fact that the only casualties on the side of the Light during the final battle had happened when she was too far away to prevent them?

Could they really see Ginny, Luna, and Hermione winning a fight against Bellatrix, or Molly Weasley was capable of murder?

Is it even possible that Harry, a boy not even eighteen with only sporadic magical education, could actually duel Voldemort, coming away with not so much as a scratch?

Boys are idiots.

And the rest of them are zealots of that damn Prophecy.

The entire Battle, Hermione made only two mistakes: thinking a few members of the Order could hold their own without her help, and allowing herself to be distracted by Harry's resurrection.

For when she assumed Lupin would keep his wits about him, that Tonks wouldn't enter the fray after giving birth, that Fred would remain straight-faced in the middle of a life/death situation, that was when she lost people.

And when Harry revealed himself to the crowd in the Great Hall, that was when she lost herself.