Author's note: I'm sorry to loyal fans for quitting A Love That Shouldn't Be Needed, but the final straw was when I found that my most loyal reader and best friend had taken the story off her favorites list because it was too far-fetched. Which is exactly what I'd been thinking. So, I'm truly sorry about it, and if you choose to hate me for it, please don't take it out on me in this fiction and post flamers about that story on this story's reviews.
Disclaimer: I own nothing except the plot.
Hermione stared at the ceiling of her room. She had changed a lot over the summer and she knew it. At 16 she would be starting her 6th year at Hogwarts in September. She sighed and rolled onto her side, restless. This was the summer that she had begun to rebel—and she had liked it in an odd sort of way.
Had this summer gone as expected, she would never have rebelled. She wouldn't have needed to. But at the very beginning of this summer, everything had changed.
It all had started when Hermione's father caught the flu. A shopping trip had been planned for that day, but Mr. Granger was too sick to attend, so it turned into a girl's day out for Hermione and her mother. They left the house at 10 AM with the promise to be back at 7 with dinner. That left Hermione's father home alone for the better part of the day.
Hermione and her mother had planned on shopping until 400, seeing a movie at 4:30 and then getting dinner at 6:30 and be home at 7 as planned.
But plans went astray at 4:30 when the movie they wanted was sold out. That was just fine with Hermione and her mother though—they would just go home early and order delivery.
They walked through the front door at a quarter to 5 and silently walked upstairs. They didn't want to disturb Mr. Granger if he was sleeping. However, when they opened the bedroom door…all thoughts of concern for Hermione's father flew from their minds.
Apparently the affair had been going on for a while. The young woman worked in the office with the Grangers and had hit it off really well with her boss' husband. Of course, neither Hermione nor her mother had known about this. They were both shocked.
Hermione's father was currently still somewhat living in the house. As long as there were no confrontations between Hermione's parents, everything was fine.
At the moment, Hermione was alone in the house. Her father tried to avoid everyone as he packed to move out and spent most of the day out, only coming home to sleep at night and pack in the odd hours of the day when no one was home. Hermione's mother was out filing for a divorce. In fact, she'd barely said anything about Hermione's father since they'd found out about the affair. Hermione actually thought it easier when her mom was out. At least then she didn't have to pretend not to hear her crying in her room at night, or deal with her plastered-on smile during the day.
Hermione felt nearly as hurt as her mother. But with that hurt was a sort of smoldering rage at her father's betrayal. She had acted upon this rage and instantly rebelled against many rules her father had set for her. She also felt a little guilt—what if she'd done something to make her father want to do this to her mother and herself—but she shoved those thoughts away forcefully.
What made her guiltier was that she had used her mother as a tool. In the first days after, she had been so unresponsive that if asked to sign something in front of her, she would sign it without a second question. And this was how she'd started it.
She fingered the tattoo on her left shoulder blade. It was in the shape of a star, all black, and almost 2 centimeters across at every point. She smiled a grim smile and thought of her father's rule with distaste—"no tattoos until you're 18 at least!" She had not particularly liked the procedure, but she now valued defying her father above the pain.
Her hands slid to her new navel ring and she smirked. She'd never particularly minded any of these rules, never considering that she may want to get a tattoo or any other piercings, but after his betrayal she wanted to do all she could to annoy him and shred his control over her into oblivion. She remembered him telling her that rule after she'd gotten her ears pierced—"now, these piercings are the only ones you'll ever have unless you're not living under my roof; only ones on your ear lobes." She'd also pierced the cartilage of her left ear, which was hideously painful, but she deemed it worth it in the end.
Among all the other rules he'd set, she'd broken curfew, gotten drunk and come home flaunting the fact (though she'd vomited it up later and had a hellish hangover), and she'd been to an un-chaperoned party. Pretty much the only rule she hadn't broken was "no sex".
And she'd had fun doing it all. Well, except for the getting drunk thing. With a sigh, she awknowledged the fact that she was rather mentally unstable at the moment. She would do anything to defy her father, no matter the cost to herself or those around her.
"Happy thoughts?" a voice asked from the doorway.
"Not really," Hermione answered, still staring at a spot on the wall. She looked up, "who—" and gasped.
"Pettigrew," she breathed.
"Uh…my master would like a word with you," Wormtail squeaked and stepped aside.
For a moment, as a cloaked figure walked in the door, Hermione forgot how to breathe.
Then the moment passed and as she lunged for her wand, a voice hissed, "accio wand," and it slipped from her fingers.
At a loss, she just stood there, waiting for the death curse. Instead, there was Wormtail, easing her into a sitting position on the bed. She swatted him away and lunged for the cloaked figure—and passed straight through it.
Hermione stared, dumbfounded, as the cloaked head tipped back and laughed. The laugh was vicious, and filled with a sort of pity. "You didn't honestly think I would come in person, did you? I thought you were smart," Voldemort said conversationally, as if talking about the weather.
"A shadow." Yes, that would easily explain this. A shadow would mimic the person it was tuned to exactly. It could touch but not be touched. But there would need to be a focus—an inanimate object that was projecting this image and acted as eyes for it. The focus also could not be moved, or the shadow would sway, no matter how great the witch or wizard behind it, and more often than not dissipate. Either something Wormtail had brought with him and had set down somewhere (unlikely, he was holding nothing but her wand), or…
"You've been in my room before!" she accused.
"Now there's that wonderful mind at work!" he said proudly, just as her father used to when she came back from Hogwarts with top scores. The face under the hood lowered sadly and murmured, "It's too bad Potter doesn't appreciate it."
That rocked Hermione all the way from her bushy hair to her toes and back again. "Wh…what do you mean by that?" But she knew exactly what he meant.
He looked at her sadly, his eyes just a dim red glow from under the hood. "He's only been using you to get out of tight places for years. Like last year, when you were with that nasty Umbridge and convinced her to go into the woods. Did he ever thank you for that?" No, he hadn't. "He could never have gotten out of there alone." No, he couldn't. "And he and that Weasley are always making fun of you for going into the library." They did. She shivered. "They then ask you if they can use the notes you studiously took down in class while they were horsing around. Or they will ask you to "correct" their work while they know that's the only way they can get the right answers." All true. "Any word of thanks?"
She didn't realize that there were tears on her cheeks until the shadow of Voldemort wiped them away. His words hit too close to home. And it hurt.
With a sniffle, she said, "he doesn't mean it."
"But that's when it hurts the most," Voldemort crooned softly, "when they don't mean it."
It was true. Too true. It did hurt more when they forgot to say their thanks to her. She wondered if those quiet nothings mirrored their true thoughts of her. When it was purposeful, at least she could shrug it off as them just trying to get back at her for something.
She looked at the hooded figure beside her and stood, "Why are you here?" She saw her wand on the bedside table and looked around for Wormtail to find he was gone before she realized it was useless. She couldn't cast a spell against a shadow.
"Why, Hermione, I thought you of all people would know that. Maybe you just didn't realize that our goals in life are not so different." Hermione waited patiently. "Knowledge, my chicklet, knowledge. That's all I really want out of life. Is that not your wish too?"
Hermione's stomach rolled. He was right. He'd hit the nail precisely on the head with that one. Weak-kneed, she sat back down on her bed. "No," she said. This couldn't be true. This couldn't be right. She tried to clear her head, tried to think. She racked her brain until… "If you want knowledge, then why kill all those muggles?"
"Because, my dear, they deserved to die," he answered harshly. "They committed acts that should never have been committed. Murdering children, rape, robbery, kidnapping. All these acts were done, but no one knew. No one but me. My Death Eaters and I are here to help," he said silkily, "but no one knows that. They think we're bad because we torture these people. But they don't know." It occurred to Hermione that he may be lying, but she dismissed the thought. It made sense, in a way, that people could be mistaken about Lord Voldemort and his followers. Too prejudiced to see the truth.
"I came here to make you an offer. Join the Death Eaters. Be my right hand. Come, and I can give you knowledge you have never dreamed of." Hermione hesitated. She knew she shouldn't—couldn't—but the offer was a good one. All the knowledge she could dream of—and more.
She opened her mouth to say no, but stopped when she heard a door open. Her father's deep voice, a feminine giggle, a soft moan. Her father didn't know they were there. But Hermione knew he was there, him and that little whore of his. The betrayal of her father cut deep, and she found herself snarling, "yes."
"Good, chicklet. Your initiation is in three weeks. Prepare yourself. I'll come to collect you at midnight. Be waiting for me. And remember, this is our little secret." The shadow vanished.
Hermione lay back on the bed. What had she just gotten herself into?
Lord Voldemort sat back in the chair. The large ebony desk in front of him was scattered with papers and documents that he was "fixing." He grinned and steepled his fingers.
"Did it work, milord?" Peter Pettigrew whined nervously.
"Like a charm," he hissed in reply. "She devoured up the lies like they were sweets. And now we have her, a beautiful mind, and," he paused, "a weapon against Potter."
Pettigrew grinned happily. "Do you require anything, master?"
"No. Leave me." Wormtail scrambled to obey and scampered from the room.
"Yes," Voldemort said to the now-empty office. "I believe this will help my plans nicely. Now, who to have at her initiation…" his thoughts became silent as he took a list of his Death Eaters from a drawer and began to cross off names.
TWO WEEKS LATER
Hermione was curled up on the couch reading when Voldemort came next. He was dressed like last time in a dark cloak with the hood pulled up. When she noticed him, she yelped and put the book away quickly. "L-Lord Voldemort," she stuttered, searching to compose herself.
"Most new Death Eaters have parents or family that are already members. As such, they are told stories about the initiation ceremony and know what to expect. You don't have Death Eaters in your family, so I have taken it upon myself to be your mentor and father among the Death Eaters."
Hermione stared. She had begun to think that the deal had just been a dream—a nightmare, really—but to see Voldemort here in the flesh was completely unexpected. She just nodded.
"Now, the initiation ceremony will have to be different for you. I am your adopted Death Eater father because you are muggle-born. As such, being my "daughter" will give you immunity from the others, but at your initiation, some in particular may try to stop you from becoming a Death Eater. So there will be a minimum of members at your initiation.
"Also, you are a Gryffindor. As such, your Dark Mark will need to be small and inconspicuous—"
"Dark Mark?" she said faintly. She hadn't thought of that. Voldemort just nodded.
"Yes, Dark Mark. As I was saying, small and inconspicuous so as to not call attention to itself. It wouldn't do for you to be revealed because you weren't wearing long sleeves.
"Now, I must be going, but in general, for the initiation, you take veritaserum and we question your ability to be a Death Eater."
Hermione's eyes widened. That was it? You just took veritaserum, answered some questions, and you're in? She paused, and her thoughts raced to Harry. What would Harry say about this? Do? Suddenly, she balked at the idea of becoming a Death Eater. No, there was no reason for her—
"My sweet, I'm so sorry to see that Potter didn't appreciate you like he should have. You're such a good girl. The Death Eaters will be pleased with your addition to the group."
His timing was perfect. Hermione snarled at the idea of Harry. Voldemort, at least, seemed like he appreciated her. Harry didn't want or like her. That was why she was doing this. Or was it? But it no longer mattered why; it only mattered that she would become a Death Eater now and nothing was about to stop her. She smiled viciously.
"Good, because I'll be glad to be one," she growled. Voldemort turned to go. "Wait!" she said. He turned back to her. "What exactly am I to address you as?" she asked timidly.
"You may address me as…" he paused, as if in thought, "your Lord," he smiled evilly, "or as your father." With a crack he Disapparatedd. Absently, she realized it had been him and not a shadow this time.
ONE WEEK LATER
Ten minutes until midnight. Hermione sat on her bed, nervous nearly to the point where she was witless. Her thoughts circled like a puppy trying to catch its tail. Harry won't like this…Harry doesn't appreciate you…Your own father betrayed you…It's only killing the bad people…Your father won't like this…Voldemort appreciates and wants you…Well, that settled it. She would do it. Or would she? Her thoughts began the cycle again, the protesting voice growing weaker with every cycle.
Finally, there was a knock on her door. She jumped up and opened it. A long, flowing cloak shrouded the figure beneath it, but she already knew who it was. "Lor—father," she said. It felt awkward, like trying to fit a car in your mouth, but she reveled in the fact that her biological father would be hurt by it. The figure waved vaguely down the hall and she followed.
Halfway down the hall, her real father's door opened. He stepped out in only his trousers and saw her. "Where are you going?" he demanded.
"I'm going out with a father who cares," she said nastily. The look of shock and hurt on his face were well worth the effort of calling Voldemort her father. As he stood in the doorway, too stunned to move, she turned and followed her "father" down the stairs.
At the foot of the stairs, Voldemort pulled a teacup from his cloak. Silently, she took it. There was a pull behind her navel and the hallway disappeared.
They were in an office. There was a large, ebony desk that was cleared off—except for a vial of what Hermione assumed was veritaserum in the center of its polished top. Behind the desk was one high-backed chair, while in front of the desk were five chairs. There was also a dark-colored lounge, paintings, a tiled fireplace, and a few shelves of books.
"That was brilliant back there," Voldemort was saying, "he deserved that—and much more—after what he did to you and your mother." Hermione didn't ask how he knew about the affair. Voldemort led her to the chair on the other side of the desk and rang a bell when she was seated. Four cloaked and hooded figures came into the room, seating themselves across from her. Voldemort took the fifth chair.
Hermione took a deep breath as Voldemort stood again and handed the vial on the table to one of the shorter cloaked figures. "Pettigrew, give Miss Granger the veritaserum." Peter bobbed a bow to the Dark Lord and uncorked the vial. He walked to the other side of the table and Hermione reached out to take it.
"No, chicklet, be a dear and let Pettigrew administer the potion," Voldemort hissed. With a glare, she obligingly opened her mouth. Wormtail poured the contents of the vial down her throat.
"What is your name?"
"Hermione Granger." The answer felt like it bubbled up from her throat before she could stop it. It was a slightly alarming feeling.
"Do you think you can be a Death Eater?"
"I know I can." Again, the answer was pulled from her with no effort at all. She relaxed a little this time though, realizing it was just the potion.
"Are you willing to torture and kill muggles?"
There was an awkward silence as she considered this, "if they deserve this treatment as I know they do, then yes." Someone sighed.
"Are you willing to accept Lord Voldemort as your mentor and leader?"
Another pause. "Yes, I think so."
Hermione could have sworn there was a hint of amusement in Voldemort's voice as he asked, "Can you follow my orders?"
"Do you like Harry Potter?"
Hermione took a deep breath, "I did, but he did and does not appreciate my talents."
"Is that a yes or a no?"
"Are you willing to accept the Dark Mark and take the Death Eaters as family?"
"Yes, I am." The answers, while still truthful, weren't pulled from her as they were in the beginning. It was beginning to wear off.
"Welcome, chicklet. You passed the initiation."
"Really? That was…easier than I expected." She made a face at the fact that the veritaserum was still working, though wearing off.
Voldemort shrugged and pulled two papers from a drawer in the desk. One he put aside. The other he handed to her and instructed her to sign. She did as directed, and added "Voldemort" to the end of her name when prompted.
Then the Death Eaters signed one by one that they witnessed her initiation, Lord Voldemort signing last. Hermione looked at the paper and the names, memorizing. There was her signature, then Crabbe, Goyle, Avery, Pettigrew, and her "father" Lord Voldemort.
On the other paper—as list of Death Eaters, she realized—her name was added. The list was handed to her, and she stared at the length. There were many names on there, more than a few she recognized as parents of her classmates. She was the only Gryffindor though.
While she looked through the list, Voldemort came up behind her. There was a sharp pain in the small of her back that flared up to consume her—and everything went dark.
A minute later, when she came to, she found herself in close intimacy with the floor. She slowly stood, slightly surprised by the five Death Eaters that ringed her. "I told you, you should've warned her," someone that Hermione thought was Avery asserted.
"Sorry," Lord Voldemort said to her, "I didn't expect you to faint." Hermione rubbed her back.
"What happened?" she asked.
"You just got the Dark Mark. I didn't warn you because sometimes it's less painful if there's no warning. Or so I've been told. It's on the small of your back, and it's smaller than usual, only 5 centimeters by 3. It shouldn't be that hard to hide."
Hermione nodded. Voldemort handed her a bag. "Your Death Eater robe and mask. You are to wear these (though not necessarily the mask) whenever there's a meeting. The masks are only worn when we go and have our…fun." He leaned down as she donned the robes, and his breath on her ear made the hairs on her neck rise. "Now, obliterate their memory of this occasion."
"But—" she protested.
"Do it," he hissed. "It wouldn't do if you were revealed as one of us because they just couldn't keep their mouths shut. You said you could follow my orders, chicklet." He handed her wand to her.
Palms slightly slippery with sweat, she pulled up her hood and erased the initiation from their minds.
"What're we doing here?" said a voice that reminded her of Goyle from school. This was probably his father.
"I just was wondering if you four would like to have a drink with me. But first I must show my guest to the door. Pettigrew, take these men to the parlor. I'll be there shortly."
Hermione was led through an enormous house to the front door. "You are going to London to buy your school supplies sometime this week, are you not?"
"I am," she said cautiously.
"Go with Potter and Weasley, and act natural. Pretend that you think they like you and don't say anything about being a Death Eater. I'd hate to be betrayed by my own daughter." Hermione shivered and thought of her other father.
Voldemort took her face in his icy hands. Hermione realized then that she'd never seen him without his cloak and hood. "Can you do that for me, chicklet? Can you?"
She smiled at him. "I will, Daddy, I will."
He sucked in his breath at the new title and said, "good girl. Here's the portkey. I'll be in touch."
When she was safely tucked into her bed, she questioned her decision to actually accept Lord Voldemort as her adopted father. Well, she thought, he is only my father when I'm with him and the Death Eaters. Maybe it won't be so bad to have a father again. It took her a minute to realize that she had by now completely disowned her biological father. She was slightly guilty about it, but did not regret it. Her "real" father didn't want her—but there was someone who did.
Voldemort sat in his office that night. There was a bottle of vodka on t he large desk, but there wasn't much left. He had opened the bottle less than an hour ago, after his followers had left. Now it was nearly empty, and he could hardly talk. His thoughts seemed fuzzy, but still he drank on.
My daughter. No, not my daughter, my tool. DO NOT GO SOFT! You can't get attached to her. You're going to kill her, so don't get attached. That will only make things hard.
Chicklet. Damn. He'd already given her a pet name. He giggled (a scary sound) and wondered where he'd gotten the word from. He mused that until 15 minutes later he realized it was a type of chewing gum. With another loud, very scary giggle, he passed out on the desk.
And I know I wasn't right, but it felt so good.
–Better Than Ezra "A Lifetime"