Hermione woke up to find her wrists manacled behind her back. She was in a dark cell, and alone, by the looks of it. She was lying on a wooden plank, held up by rusted chains. She sat up painfully, and looked around. The cell was rectangular, about the width and length of a double bed. There was a door at the end, which had no windows or handles.
The first thing she did was to stretch her legs and think. She was alive, so that meant that Voldemort had some plans involving her. She was still fully clothed, so she had not been raped… yet. She guessed that her wand had been removed.
She sat on the floor and, using her bottom as a pivot, pointed on finger on the ground and drew a large circle around her. Now was the difficult part. She stood up once more, before lowering her body until her hand reached the floor. It took a few attempts before she managed to stay balanced as she drew the rune. Then she pressed her palm on, what she hoped was, her drawing of the rune. Since the ground was made of solid stone, she wasn't actually sure whether she had put her hand on the drawing or not. She swallowed and pushed all of her energy into her thoughts. If she tried hard enough, it might just work...
"Protego… protego… protego…" She repeated it over and over again.
Suddenly, the door was flung open and a man with long blonde hair entered. Behind him, a cloaked, snake-like being watched her position with amusement.
"What are you trying to do, Miss Granger?" The vile creature asked.
Hermione ignored him, and continued muttering the spell. Lucius Malfoy smirked and flicked his wand.
What happened next was completely unexpected to all present in the room. As though there was a force field around her body, the spell dissolved within inches of her face.
"What in Merlin's name is this!" Malfoy yelled.
"This, Lucius, is wandless magic. A spell, combining with a rune for protection. Such an intelligent creature. It would be a shame to have intelligence such as your wasted." Voldemort said, approaching her.
She looked up at him in fear. What was he going to do to her?
"My plans have, once again, been thwarted, by you. The teachers, ghosts and house-elves were easy to remove, once I had removed the barrier that prevented Death Eaters from entering into the school and Dark Magic to be cast on another human being."
"What did you do to them?" Hermione snarled.
"Unfortunately, I could not harm them directly, as a number of other wards prevented that from happening. I merely transported them somewhere where they could only escape by foot. Once past the perimeters, they would have been able to apparate, but even they would have known that it was too late. It takes over four hours to make it by foot, and then they would have to apparate to Hogsmeade before they can walk back to the school." Voldemort cackled.
"Why didn't you kill them?" Hermione asked curiously.
"That would have been too easy." He said, gazing at her with his red eyes. "No, I want the Wizarding World to see that even Hogwarts is not safe, but to do that…"
His eyes narrowed at her, and she dredged up what Occlumency she had learnt off Harry and tried to shut him out.
"I need to kill every single one of those students." He hissed. "And once that has been done, those who had entrusted their children to Dumbledore's care will blame him, and the Wizarding World will come to me."
He laughed, and laughed, non-stop. A long distance away, Harry Potter awoke from his dreams with a burning scar.
After a few minutes, he stopped and pointed his wand at her.
"Wingardium Leviosa." He hissed.
To Hermione's dismay, she floated high into the air.
"Your new spell, seems to only ward off attacks. This charm is neither attack nor defence. Lucius, wipe out the rune."
He nodded and did as he was told. Hermione was then dumped on the ground where she was immediately placed under the Cruciatus. She screamed, but she did not reveal the location where she had sent the students. She would never tell. Never.
"Merlin! Harry! Harry!" Ron's voice broke through the pain in Harry's head.
Harry stopped screaming and breathed deeply, clutching his scar. He shivered and wondered why he was so cold. Memories of what had happened the night before crashed down upon him.
"Is Potty scared because he had a little nightmare?" A low voice drawled.
"Shut up, Malfoy." Another voice said.
Harry sat up and saw Malfoy at three people's wand-point. He stood up and waved them aside.
"No. We mustn't fight." Harry said. "Malfoy. For the sakes of the rest of the students, please can we just put aside our differences for a while?"
"I don't see why I have to listen to you, Potter."
"Oi! Show some respect." Will said.
"Will, stop it. Malfoy, we know you hate Potter's guts. Potter hates yours. He's not asking you for much, just to be civil."
Malfoy snorted at Phoebe's words.
"Malfoy, I'll tell you why you should listen to me. Because I was appointed your leader. I did not ask for it, nor do I want it."
"And who appointed you?" Malfoy sneered.
"The girl who saved your neck last night. Not just yours, but everyone in this room owes her their lives, some have even escaped twice because of her. So don't you dare go on about her being a stupid little Mudblood. Voldemort has her, and she is being tortured until she reveals our location. Once she does, no one will be spared. Not even you, Malfoy. He wants to kill everyone." Harry snapped.
The students around them were stirring. Malfoy's face paled.
"He wouldn't-he wouldn't kill—"
"Everyone, Malfoy. He isn't even going to spare his potential Death Eaters-to-be."
Malfoy flushed a little before sighing in defeat.
"I'll listen to you, for now." He said, eyes burning with hatred.
He turned on his heels and swiftly made his way to the other end of the room. Harry sighed. At least someone was being co-operative. It was barely four in the morning. Phoebe, Will and Ron were at hand, ready to receive orders.
"Where should we take them? We can't stay here. Hermione won't reveal us willingly, but the Cruciatus…" Harry trailed off.
"Hogwarts is empty." Will muttered.
"But they might have put sensors in the school, to tip them off." Phoebe countered.
"But it's the only place of safety. There isn't any other place I can think of." Ron said.
"Hogwarts it is, then. Phoebe, you may be sceptical but we have about four hundred students here." Harry said.
"Yes, and how many does You-Know-Who have?" Phoebe said, sounding rather aloof.
"Probably a lot more. But he's very good at underestimating people. And, this time, we'll be on the alert." Harry said.
"I still don't think it's a good idea." Phoebe frowned.
"The Death Eaters wouldn't be bothered to stay and put sensory spells all over the place. Too time consuming."
They all jumped. Malfoy was amongst them again, eyes downcast.
"Uh… Thanks." Harry said, uncertainly.
"How are we going to get them there though?" Phoebe said.
"Well, we need to get the youngest ones to safety first." Harry added.
"The Knight Bus." Ron said.
"That's a good idea. The Knight Bus can bring us to Hogsmeade. If it was attacked yesterday, then Aurors would be there, and the students would be brought home. If it wasn't then, we would have a clear path back to Hogwarts." Harry said.
"But the Knight Bus only takes sixty passengers at most." Phoebe pointed out.
"And we are four hundred." Malfoy said.
"We'll send the younger ones back with a few seventh years who can defend them if anything happens." Harry said.
They all nodded.
"Can't we let them sleep for a while longer?" Will said, gazing at a huddle of first years, sleeping soundly under a blanket.
"Do you think He will wait until we're all wide awake to attack?" Malfoy snapped. "He'll kill us as soon as Granger spills."
"He's right." Harry said. "We have to get going now."
"Let's wake only the people who are going. Or else this will turn chaotic." Phoebe said.
Everyone nodded in agreement.
"Malfoy, I want you, Ron, Will, Crabbe, Goyle," Harry said another ten seventh-years' names and Will and Malfoy nodded, immediately waking those people up but asking them to keep quiet.
Harry and Phoebe woke the first and second years up, asking them to be quiet. It was still very dark out, but Harry feared that sunrise would bring Voldemort with it. Soon, everyone was assembled at the door.
"I can't believe you're making me do this, Harry. I can't stand him." Ron muttered.
"Ron, Malfoy's making an effort to be civil. Do the same. Will, I want you to take charge. You know this area a lot better. Take everyone towards Phinxmere, and signal the Knight Bus there. No matter what happens, defend the younger ones. Malfoy, I'll assume you have money on you. You'll be reimbursed, even if it has to be from my own pocket, just pay for everyone. You'll have to do the trip twice, so Will will divide you into two groups." Harry ordered.
Malfoy nodded, scowling. Then, they left. As soon as they were out of sight, Harry began discussing with Phoebe once more.
"What's the best route to Hogwarts?" Harry asked.
"We could try flooing, but it's dangerous. It could be watched." Phoebe cautioned.
"There must be some way…"
They sat down and thought to themselves.
Before long, the sun was up, and most of the students were awake. When they noticed that there were people missing, many cried out.
"Calm! Everyone, please calm down!" Harry yelled over the din.
"Sonorus." Phoebe said, pointing at Harry's voice.
"There is no need for panic. I have sent the younger years back to Hogwarts, with a few seventh-years, because, hopefully, the teachers will be back by now."
That was a lie, but it calmed many people down. Most of the students did not wish to return to Hogwarts. But many grumbled about wishing they had been chosen.
"I would like to know who here can apparate!" Harry said.
A lot of hands were raised, including Harry's and Phoebe's.
"Okay. Those who can apparate, take two other students, preferably the younger ones, and apparate to Hogsmeade. Be prepared to defend yourselves as soon as you arrive." Harry said. "As soon as those people have arrived, Phoebe will choose a group of you to return for the rest of us."
There were nods, and Phoebe grabbed two third-years and apparated. This left Harry with a small group of about forty students. Mainly fifth years. There were a small group of fourth years and sixth years and a very small number of seventh years. If Voldemort struck now, they would be very vulnerable indeed.
Hermione was in pain, and she could feel her mind recoiling, frying from the pain. She wanted to do anything, just for the pain to stop. Somehow, her heart told her not to give in, and she kept screaming obscenities and nonsense, to prevent herself from telling the truth.
Soon, her grip on reality slipped. The last thing she consciously remembered doing was gripping the crystal that hung around her neck and bellowing Harry and Ron's names.
Please help me...
Thank you for bearing with me. This story has been surprisingly difficult to write. I appreciate all the encouragement that my reviewers have been giving me, and thank you for your criticisms as well.
A special thank you to: