Title: Fate's Card

Rating: M (Nothing major yet, but there are some adultish undertones in later chapters)

Summary: Post-war; Voldemort won. Draco is V.'s right hand, and he earns Hermione in exchange. But with a blooming relationship, and plots that run deep, how will the cards land when the dust is settled?

Author: Sketchy Cannabis -- Started 6/17/06

Disclaimers: Harry Potter is not mine; I wish. The chapter titles belong to Panic! At the Disco, not me. (Lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off.)

Chapter One -- I've Got More Wit

"Take her. I've never been interested in half-bred wenches"

Those were the words which sent Hermione tumbling towards Draco. She was barely aware of the world around her. Though Voldemort hadn't been interested in her for her body, he'd had her mind tortured extensively. He'd needed proof Harry was dead, and he'd gotten it. Multiple times, wrenching it from her mind time and time again. She relived it each time -- and she was sure he knew that.

Now since she wasn't needed, she was being tossed off to Draco. Did he want her? She didn't know. Maybe Voldemort knew something she didn't. She coughed as Draco gripped her arm tightly. She couldn't see his face. "Thank you, my liege." My liege? Hermione let out a weak laugh, but it only came out as more coughing.

"Get her out of my sight." That voice was ingrained so deeply on her subconscious that she shivered involuntarily as Draco pulled her away from the room roughly. She couldn't remember the way out of this hell hole now. She had at one time, before all the mind games had started. Before the nightmares had consumed her so fully. She'd run over the way they had brought her into this dank place over and over again. It was all she could do to keep the crying from starting, back then. Most times, she didn't care. If she cried, they laughed, and stopped, just a little sooner, sometimes. And crying felt good. Sometimes. Nothing was constant in this place except the scent of fear that lingered on all her fellow Order members.

She hadn't seen any of them in weeks. She'd seen Oliver sometime back; she couldn't remember how long ago. She remembered that he'd looked worse off than she did, which was saying something. He'd never been a main player; they had little need of him. Last she'd seen, he'd been attached to Bellatrix's side by an invisible chain that only she and he knew existed. He was just another trophy for her shelf.

Her wrists hurt, and she whimpered when Draco changed his grip on her arm. "Stop whining, Granger. The worst is over, if you care to believe it." His tone made her stumble a little bit on her footing. How could the worse be over? She wasn't needed now. They didn't need to make sure she remained alive. But maybe he was right. Maybe she could die now. A high pitched giggle escaped her then, muffled only slightly by her hand. Oh, yes, dying. Now wouldn't that be fun?

They passed through a door and Draco slammed it behind him, pushing her forward. It took her a moment to realize what it was she was leaning against. She pet the blanket slowly, the hazy fog in her mind clearing for a second. This, this is what they meant for her. To warm Draco's bed, to be his trophy. She slid down the bed, watching Draco pace around the room. She could hear water running in a room off to the side, could hear him pushing things around as though searching for things.

"C'mon Granger, off with the clothes"

She froze, looking up at him. "No - no, no, no, no, no." Her voice was barely above a whisper, cracking and faltering in and out. She hadn't done anything but scream in such a long time.

Draco looked at her with disgust for a moment before removing her clothing. "If you're worried about me, you shouldn't be. I wouldn't touch anything as dirty as you even if Voldemort ordered me to." The disgust in his look had leaked into his voice. Venom touched Voldemort's name.

Hermione watched dumbly as he removed her clothing quickly, with an almost clinical touch. His fingers lingered on a large cut down her side, that had just started to scab over. "Dear Merlin," a small whisper escaped Draco's lips as he watched her flinch. Dried blood was smeared around various other wounds, and all was for him to see. Hermione closed her eyes briefly. She felt embarrassed. Naked, and oh so vulnerable feeling, Hermione watched with her brown doe eyes wide. Gently, so gently she cringed for fear of more pain, Draco lifted her into his arms, carrying her into the bathroom, laying her in the hot water.

It hurt so deliciously. Hermione closed her eyes, moaning as she was submerged into the water. It'd been months since she'd been anywhere near warm water. It burned her skin, searing along all the small cuts and welts, healed to different degrees. After the first moment of pain though, she settled down lower into the water, oblivious to Draco, who stood above her, watching with eyebrows raised. It felt like her very bones were melting into water as she lounged in the bath.

Through half-closed cat eyes, she watched as Draco took some shampoo in his hands and scrubbed it into her hair. He was muttering about something, she knew, but she couldn't tell what. This was the safest she'd felt in such a long time, it didn't matter. If she was safe and clean for only this small piece of time, she was okay with that. It was worth it. Draco was rinsing her hair, so gentle. She sighed again, feeling muscles that hadn't relaxed in weeks slowly unclench. She remembered him using half a bottle of conditioner on her hair, smoothing it in, pulling his fingers through the mess of hair slowly, coaxing out the stiff rat nests with sugar rather than spice. When he started to wash her body though, she tensed up. He was touching her, and she didn't like it. When people started touching her, things usually didn't turn out well, for her, anyhow. Draco did only what was needed, frowning as the water turned a dank red colour from the dried blood he softly cleaned off her.

And then he was gone. Hermione opened her eyes, having closed them when he was rinsing out the conditioner. The water was almost chilly, but it still felt pleasant. And it's not like he'd told her she had to get out, right? She turned on the faucet, running her face and hair under it for a moment before turning it off almost reluctantly.

There was a towel laid by the tub, and she looked around cautiously before grabbing it and hurriedly wrapping it around her. Fingertips traced lightly over the comb that was laid on the counter, before Hermione looked up. She gaped at the reflection in the mirror. Lately, she'd been too concerned about surviving to really care about her appearance. The towel hung limply from around her chest. She hadn't realized how much weight she'd really lost until now. She looked diseased. Her cheeks sunk in, and her usually semi-glamorous hair had lost all shine and health. It was cut raggedly, uneven and torn in places where someone had pulled too hard. Her fingers brushed her cheek as she closed her mouth.

She was crying, and over such a silly thing. After all she'd been through, she cried at this: at this lack of beauty that she could not recognize. Another of the ways they destroyed her. She could hear the screams in her head, but she'd never seen this part until this moment. She shut her eyes, trying to block it out. Hoping that when she opened her eyes she'd see something that was familiar. Not this stranger in the mirror, this woman with dark eyes and shadows dancing in them. This woman who resembled more the dead than the living.
When she opened her eyes, she squeaked. She hadn't even heard Draco come up behind her. He was standing silently, watching her in the mirror. She couldn't tell what he was thinking, those grey eyes ever quiet and blank. He reached around her for the comb, taking it and starting at the ends of her hair. For a moment, as he stared at the hair he was so tenderly combing, she thought she saw anger. It took a long time to comb out her hair. The whole time, Hermione held perfectly still, shifting her weight from foot to foot, moving only when told. Her hands clutched at the top of the towel. After Draco had finished the last section, he set the comb down, picking up a pair of scissors. Hermione squeaked. She knew she had to cut it. Parts of her hair fell past the middle of her back, while others barely reached her shoulders.

Draco cut it slowly and precisely. He cut it only as short as he had to, a kindness that was unexpected. Hermione didn't know whether it was because he preferred long hair on her, or because he knew how she liked her hair. In the end, he'd evened out her hair to shoulder length. A few pieces were shorter, but generally unnoticeable unless you were looking for them. Hermione stared at the bathroom floor, her eyes closed.

She felt him leave. He had a certain warmth that had kept her back cozy. She shivered, drying herself in a hurry and putting on the clothes he'd left for her. It was a simple shirt, one of his from Hogwarts, if she recalled correctly. She remembered he'd been teasing her about something, and she'd thrown ice cream on it. She felt tears well up. That's when Ron and Harry had been alive. Before the final confrontation that had left them all reeling. And now, at 22, she had so little to live for. But live she did, and she figured she'd know why eventually. That's how things worked.

The clothes were comfortable, and in one piece. Something she generally enjoyed in her clothing. She left the bathroom warily, almost fearfully. Draco was sprawled on the bed, reading something. When he noticed her, standing in the doorway, looking awkward, he beckoned her to the bed.

"Now that you're decent, we can talk." He shifted slightly, propping himself up on one elbow, watching her as she arranged herself on the edge of the bed. "You're mine now, and that can work to the best for the both of us. There are a couple rules about it all, but they're easy, and I actually think you'll appreciate them." He paused, marking his page and closing the book. "Rule number one. You sleep in my bed. You aren't required to do anything else in my bed unless you want. I deal with enough rape during the day that I don't want to invite it into my room. Rule number two. No leaving unless I'm with you. It's not safe, and I'd rather not come home to find you in pieces." Seeing her expression at that, he smiled faintly. "You're not the first I've owned, Granger." He tapped his fingers on his book and then glanced back up at her. "I'll bring whatever foodstuff you request, and all I ask is that you cook dinner on nights when I'll be home. There'll be plenty when I'm not, so it shouldn't be all that hard. You may go anywhere in my quarters, just clean up after yourself. Don't answer the door. Anyone who's knocking is just trouble waiting to happen." Glancing up at her, he frowned, reaching a hand out to brush against her cheek lightly. "Things are different now, Granger." He sighed, shoulders slumping oh so faintly. "Sometimes, I think things will never be better. Sometimes… I know I was wrong." He looked up, the creases of worry and stress lining his face. "We're all so different now. It's just how it goes." Slowly, he rolled off the bed, going about the room, shutting off the lights slowly, one by one. Hermione noticed faintly that the clock by his bed read 11. "Lights out, Granger"

Draco stood next to the bed, stripping off his clothing, until he stood naked in front of her. Hermione could feel her cheeks flushing. Quickly, she pulled back the blankets, getting into the bed, and facing away from Draco. She could hear him chuckling as he slid into the bed, all grace and beauty. Her cheeks still burned, the image of his naked profile caught in her mind's eye. How he was still so pale, thin and wiry, muscles obvious on his arms, chest, and legs. How he was nearly hairless under all that clothing, and all of it simply resembled a soft down. She bit her lip, curling up. The bed felt so soft. So… very soft.

A/N: Just wanted to mention, if anyone has a better title, let me know. Suggestions are welcome. I'm not terribly sure where I'm going with this, and am nervous slightly about posting it up... xX; I've got a few more chapters written, but we'll just have to see. Review, please, if you'd like to see more. If not, I'll be pretty slow about posting up more chapters.