Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter in any way, shape or form. No copyright infringement is intended.
It's a broken world.
That's what everybody's calling it at least. Though it was never perfect to begin with, they all suddenly seem shocked that it's reached this level of degradation. Everybody's divided; brother from brother, father from son, mother from child. Everybody has taken a side, though to the commoners, the outsiders and those who hide away in fear-- they don't know the deadly consequences that are hidden away from prying eyes to protect the weak at heart.
Yet in the deepest, darkest bowels of Malfoy Manor, carefully guarded by the most deadly of enchantments, there lives a young girl. Her long brown hair is riddled with dust and dirt, and her dark, serious eyes seem lost and empty. She's been on her own for so long, sitting in old rusted shackles and long black robes; and she barely remembers the outside world.
But she's not entirely alone. Other than the murmurs which seep through the floorboards to her needy ears, there are house elves who barely cater to her needs. And there's also a boy. A boy she thought she knew oh-so long ago. A boy who's no longer a boy, but rather a man now. He lives in the Manor above her with his mother and father, and he comes down ever so often to visit--though he's never elaborated as to why.
Silently, he brings her books and sets them within arm's reach. And he doesn't stay long, but in the time that he's there, he stands by the door and watches her with a passive face. She tries to find words to speak, but she's never sure what to say. Should she demand to be released? Should she beg, and scream, and lunge at him, trying to hurt the one human contact she has in this dreary place?
She was always smart one though, and she knows there will be consequences; so she holds her tongue and ignores her bonds which constrain the lost little girl to her dark, formidable prison.
Time becomes her friend, though; and after months, perhaps even a year, he finally speaks to his prisoner. He tells her of the war, and that it's far from over. He tells her of her friends-- the same ones she willed to see every night in her dreams-- and of the slaying of the Weasley family, which left behind only two survivors. The youngest crimson haired children, the ones she was sure were hurting so much more now, than she had when she had learnt of the family's demise.
"And what of Harry?" she asks, her voice hoarse and gruff. She had given up speaking years ago.
The Slytherin looks downcast as he shakes his head wearily and mutters in reply, "He won't come for you."
Those words stung more than he would ever know. But she was resilient, and she was sure it was a lie. "You don't know Harry like I do," she rasps. "He'll come for me. He won't leave me here to rot."
So obviously there was hope in this broken little girl. And the young boy with such a lost look in his eyes returns day after day, standing by the doorway, telling her news of the latest events.
"They attacked Hogsmeade yesterday," he says with a dragged out sigh. And Hermione can only imagine those who had died in such a battle.
But sometimes it's not always about war stories, and casualties. Sometimes he sits and sometimes he reads silently as she watches him from the corner of her eye. And she doesn't necessarily trust him, but he's all she's got; so she's polite most of the time, and courteous when it comes to his own questions.
They're odd questions actually, though she never minds answering them. They give her something to do, someone to speak to, someone to learn from. He knows what's going on out there and doesn't seem to care why she would want such answers. It's not like they'll be of any use to her now. He asks about her friends, and how well they'd gotten along. He questions her about the Weasleys, even though he's hated them for years and has never refuted such an attitude.
"But what were they like?" he asks, not meeting her eyes.
"Well," Hermione says nonchalantly, trying to keep her voice calm; trying not to scream, "Mrs. Weasley, she was always... always so loving. She had a temper, though it was nothing to how much she cared for her children..."
It was like a knife in the gut for the young Gryffindor; but she continued on, letting out her grief in the most strained of answers. There's no comfort in Draco, though he's patient and listens carefully to her answers.
"And you know what the worst part is, Malfoy?" she asks, her lower lip quivering with rage.
"No," he murmurs softly. "Tell me."
"The worst part," she announces through gritted teeth, "is that I couldn't be there with them. I couldn't help them because I'm locked away in this god damned prison."
"You're a prisoner of war, Granger," he answers. "From the way I see it, you're safer here in these dungeons than you would ever be out there. Not even Potter can keep someone with your blood safe from the Death Eaters."
"He will," she says daringly, and once again he shakes his head.
"Don't get your hopes up," he murmurs.
She frowns darkly and turns away from him, muttering in a low voice, "He'll come for me. He'll come some day soon."
So she's left wondering just when soon is. He comes more often now, bringing fewer books and preferring to sit in a dark corner and listen to her tell old stories while her crystal eyes glisten with unshed tears. She doesn't want to be here. She wants to be free again, with her friends.
And he won't let her.
He likes her stories, yet he doesn't tell her so; and there's an odd silence at the end when neither know what to say to end the gloom that sweeps back into the room. She hears his fathers harsh words travel through the dungeons. They've been arguing more as of late.
'Let them argue,' she thinks. 'Let them argue until I'm free.'
The bitter little girl with the dirty, messy hair writes letters now in the dust. She writes them day after day with her fingers, writing to Harry and Ron, telling them she's still here. Writing to Ginny, sending her condolences. And she finishes each letter with I'm still waiting, though she's sure they're right outside the gates. They're biding their time and ridding themselves of their grief.
"I could get you parchment," he offers one day. "Though I could never deliver the letters."
"Then I'd rather have the dust," she proclaims stubbornly, running her fingers across the ground in a bored manner.
The years wear on and the two grow even more closer together. He brings her newspapers now as well, and she cringes as she reads the startling news as the death toll rises by the day. There's no mention of her friends though--no mention of those who are supposed to be battling this tyranny-- but she doesn't lose faith and she continues to hope that they'll arrive one day to steal her off into the night.
"Malfoy," she asks. "Why do you bring me books and newspapers? Why do you reprimand the house elves when my meals are not enough? Nobody would think any less of you if you weren't to visit me down here."
"Would you rather I didn't?" he asks bitterly, grey eyes narrowing in contempt. "Would you rather that I left you here to rot alone?"
And reluctantly, she shakes her head and turns away from him, picking at the frayed hem of her old robes. "No," whispers Hermione. "And I didn't mean it in that sense either. I'm grateful, Malfoy, don't think that I'm not. But..."
"But what?" he questions uneasily.
"But if you were me, and you were locked here in this cell; would you be glad to see the face of your captor day in and day out? Would be be grateful to know that you'll never see the light of day again, and that your key to your escape is held by the one person who you need to keep your sanity?"
He stays silent for a moment, not daring to speak as he runs her words through his head time and time again.
"You need me?" he asks softly, his eyes averted in their usual cold manner and his arms limply by his side as he enquires of the young woman. She sighs and grasps one of the old newspapers stacked neatly by her side.
"Everybody needs somebody," she murmurs. "Right now, all I have is you."
"Is that supposed to be reassuring?"
"No, it's supposed to be a courteous answer to your question."
"And you're being courteous because...?"
"Two reasons. One, because obviously anything I do to insult you will only end up with the house elves starving me." She fakes a smile and glances darkly around her eerie old prison.
"Two; because I don't think I'd have survived this long without you here," she answers softly. "Even the news of the Weasleys... you still told me. Despite our differences in the past and the fact that nobody would think any less of you, should you stop helping me, you still bothered to come down here and inform me."
"You think I did it for you?" he scoffs half-heartedly.
"No," she says with a shrug. "I think you did this because you wanted me to know what they were saying wasn't true. That even though you acted like an annoying worm at Hogwarts, that doesn't mean you'll become your father."
His averted grey eyes suddenly land on the young brunette, and his face contorts into one of anger and loathing as he spits, "You don't know the first thing about me."
Draco leaves behind a stunned Hermione as he storms out of the dungeons; dust and silence settling in his wake. She doesn't see him for days, and she silently curses herself for being so straightforward. House elves come and house elves go, presenting no real comfort or company as she silently sits in the darkness, rattling her rusty chains and wishing she had her wand like so many times before.
But finally, one night (or so she presumes it's night), as she lays herself down to sleep; she hears the locks click and the bars rattle. And there he is, standing on the opposite side of her cell, his arms folded and his menacingly grey eyes glaring at her from across the room.
"You don't know me, Granger," he mutters, his words slurring together as he reveals himself from behind the concealing shadows. "You don't know me at all."
"Malfoy, what are you doing here?" she asks, the sleep vanishing from her eyes.
"You don't know me," he repeats, stifling a hiccup. "You don't know what I've done. You don't know what I've seen. I don't wear my sins on my sleeve, so how could you know?"
"Are you drunk?" she questions, sitting up suddenly.
"No!" he proclaims. "I wasn't drunk! I wasn't incapacitated or anything of the like!"
Bewildered, Hermione presses her back against the wall, trying to no success to edge away from the maniacal looking man. "What are you talking about?" she asks, her voice quivering. "What... what did you do?"
He leered, throwing his head back and hauntingly laughing like a lunatic.
"I killed them!" he recites. "I killed them all while they slept! I whispered those two words time and time again and smirked at their lifeless bodies before torching that dilapidated house to the ground!"
Hermione gasped, taken aback for a moment as she registered this new information. And in her heart of hearts, she knew who he spoke of. She knew that the guilt he bore had become too much.
"Why!?" she demands. "Why did you do it? Why did you kill them?"
He continues to laugh, a somewhat jolly look on his face as his body racks with silent sobs. "Because they told me to! They told me I had to! It's not my fault, it's their's!"
"You still killed them, Malfoy," she hisses.
"And what? You think I just kill off Weasleys? I'm not a murderer!" his insane plea echoes. "I'm not... I'm not a murderer..."
His hands reach down into his cloak pocket and withdraw his wand. Silently, he admires the long wooden pocket; like it's some lost treasure which he has finally found. Wearily, Hermione shakes her head.
"Don't do it!" she shouts as he raises the wand to his temple.
"And why not?" he barks. "So I can live and remember their faces as they melted away? I wasn't raised to kill! I didn't mean to! I hated them, but not to the extent of death!"
"Then live for me!" she pleads. "Please... don't kill me in your attempt to die."
Contemplating the situation, Draco swallows the lump that has formed in the base of his throat. He peers at Hermione for a moment, feeling the warm rebellious tears streaking down his pale face.
"Don't worry," he murmurs softly. "I think I've found the answer."
Within a moment, he removes the distance between himself and Hermione; and he raises his wand to his chest and whispers the words, 'Avada Kedavra' like so many times before. A blinding flash of green light colors the room, and Hermione covers her face with one arm as the resonating glow brightens, then dims down to nothingness.
She shivers, refusing to open her eyes until she can take it no more; opening them soon after to find the limp body of the young student she once knew laying limply before her. She muffles her sobs, breathing erratically as she gazes over at his lone figure. His eyes are open, though they bear no sign of life.
Sitting in that dark dungeon, she observes the lifeless fiend who now rested peacefully--unmoving and silent-- and after awhile, she realizes just how near his wand is. Swiftly, she grasps it out of Draco's hand and unlocks her shackles; rubbing her bruised wrists with much vigor.
She bounds across the room, and is almost out the door before she hesitates and turns back. Gingerly, her fingers brush his eyelids closed, before she steps back and watches him from the doorway. She bids him good-bye in a hushed voice, before racing up the old stone steps and unlocking the dungeon door.
Hermione runs through the castle as fast as her cramped up legs will take her. There is no sound in this brooding mansion. She hurries to the front door, throwing it open and basking for once in the radiant starlight which twinkles overhead. But she can't stand there for long, and she knows this, so she runs.
And she runs.
And she's finally able to search for those who abandoned her.