The light flickered on and off, causing the shadows to dance around the walls of the room. The wind blew gently against the yellow flame through the open window, the night air filling the small room with the sweet fragrance from the sea.
She stood at the window, her back straight, her head held high. She radiated pride and confidence and even a touch of defiance in her stance. She remained unmoving, unyielding. She was a woman of stature and she would not be broken.
Her dark brown hair hung down her bare back to her waist in loose curls, caressing her skin with it's soft touch. The garment that could hardly be called a dress barely covered her up, leaving a lot of skin exposed and the rest hidden for the imagination to play with.
Her face was like stone, her pretty features drawn tight as she stared out of the open window at the night sky. The bitter chocolate eyes that once shown brightly with amusement and laughter were now taking in everything and yet, nothing. So much had changed.
The war was over. It had been over for two months now and she was still awaiting to find out what her fate would be. The wait was the undeniable torture she could hardly take. It was maddening.
She vividly recalled how before the war, her, Harry and Ron would all sit at breakfast and look over the Daily Prophet, looking for familiar names. For a while, they thought that everything was all and well, that the Order was actually winning the war.
And then it had all changed.
She could still visualize the cold November morning when they had looked down at the Daily Prophet, their mouths falling open in pure horror at the top heading: Order Massacre: Twenty Dead, Twenty-nine Still Missing.
That was when things had started to go down hill. Among the dead were Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Emmeline Vance, Nymphadora Tonks, Fred and George Weasley, Professor Flitwick, Neville's grandmother, and Kingsley Shaklebolt.
Remus was still missing, though she secretly considered him to be dead. The words were to painful to say out loud so she thought them in her head. Bill and Fleur were also missing, causing Ron's grief to grow.
He had given up then, she realized, and no one had noticed...except her and Harry. They noticed, and they tried to help but nothing could console him. He was hurt and in mourning. In a single day, he lost almost all of his family.
Soon after that, Hermione's own parents were found dead, the Dark Mark glowing sardonically over her small country house. They were found bound and gagged in the living room, clearly tortured for long periods before being put out of their misery.
Hermione had refused to cry. There was just too much to worry about to stop and cry, to much to fear. Voldemort was steadily growing stronger and Hermione refused to take time to sit down and cry and mourn. Time was just something there was not enough of.
The battle was near to them then, they all realized it. Voldemort was announcing the end of the war by merely striking out at those who Harry cared for most and their families. All there was to do was wait.
They prepared vigorously, but in the end it was not enough. Voldemort was just too strong and they were just too few. The Death Eaters easily overcame them and Hermione watched helplessly as Harry faced his fate.
The two opponents met in the middle of the desolate field where a garden of corpses lied around them in giant pools of crimson liquid. The world was silent in those few moments as they drew their wands, everyone's eyes trained on the battle that was about to come. It would be a battle of good versus evil, dark versus light, Harry versus Voldemort.
Hermione had held her breath as they circled each other, throwing verbal stings at one another meant to wound but instead causing anger. Like a bee, their verbal stingers stuck deep into the skin and refused to budge, making the victim grow incensed.
It was over before anyone knew it had happened. In a moment, a soft spoken "Crucio" turned into an "Avada Kedavra" and the green light hit its' target. Harry had stood no chance this time against the Dark Wizard, his mother's blood no longer shielding him from the vile of the snake-like man.
Hermione stood alone then, the Order having failed at their attempts and Harry Potter dead. She knew of no other thing to do than to try to end it all, but before she could, a set of arms had wrapped tightly around her, imprisoning her where she could not run.
His eyes, the glowing crimson of death, haunted her still. The look in them spoke of revenge and torture when he had ordered her to be taken to his stronghold where she would be beaten and tortured to an inch of her life. But still she would not budge.
He had wanted her to join him, to turn her backs on everything she had ever known and loved, but she had refused to. She held strong while curse after endless curse was thrown at her, her empty eyes meeting his and he knew her resolve.
Something had made him order the torture to come to a close. No one knew what change had come over him when, instead of ordering her to be killed, he said that she was to be taken to the room that were prepared for her and given a bath and a clean pair of clothes. She was not to be touched until he decided what to do with her.
He was still deciding two months later and Hermione was tired of the wait. She was ready to die, in fact she would probably welcome it at this point. She knew that everyone she had loved was waiting for her on the other side and she was quite anxious to meet up with them again. While she was here, she would never be herself again.
The door opened softly and a swish of a cloak sounded behind her. The door clicked softly shut and she felt his ominous presence behind her, silently commanding her to turn around and face him, something she was not prone to do by her earlier nature but she no longer cared.
She turned slowly and met his gaze, eyes as red as blood and just as warm as that fresh from the body. She was ready for this, she was ready to be killed.
But he did not raise a wand nor did he speak a word. Instead, he stood very close to her and merely looked upon her as if he was looking for something that was kept hidden from him and he wanted to know what it was.
She felt the familiar push in her head and knew that he was attempting to read her thoughts. A spark of her old defiance welled up in her and she fought hard against him, pushing him out of her thoughts and her memories.
He laughed. His bone chilling laugh filled the room as he left her head and drawled back into his own, his eyes never leaving hers. "So, there still is a little of that fire still in you. Interesting."
Hermione's lips formed a straight line and she stepped back from him. She wouldn't give him the pleasure of starting an endless battle of wits. No, she may be his prisoner but she would never succumb to his whims.
He circled her like a vulture eying up its prey, slowly digesting each and every ounce of her. Once upon a time, she would have been uncomfortable under his scrutiny, but now she only bade him to do his worst and met his gaze challengingly. She would not back down to him.
"Hermione," he hissed, stepping closer to her, "whatever am I going to do with you?"
"Kill me," Hermione challenged, her chocolate eyes cold and impassive.
He smirked. "And why would I do that when you so obviously desire it. No, I think I will keep you alive...for now. You amuse me, my pet, and for that reason you will remain alive. I dare say that young Draco finds you just as amusing."
He knew then that he had sparked up the fire in her once again for her eyes filled with the intense hatred she felt for the young Malfoy.
"I don't care what that ferret thinks of me," she bit out. She remembered all to well how it had been Draco Malfoy who had killed Ron moments before Harry went to duel with the snake in front of her.
"But he cares," Voldemort said with his evil smirk in place. "He is quite keen on knowing what I wish to do to you. I think that in spite of your unfortunate heritage that he finds you quite delectable."
Hermione knew what he was hinting at and felt the familiar feelings inside of her well up. She hated him then, for with very little effort, he made her feel something again. She leaned in close to him and hissed, "Give me to him then, I don't care. Anything to get me away from you."
He laughed again and Hermione felt herself a little shaken that he found her so amusing. She wanted to incense him, drive him to killing her, but it looked as if she would not. Though he was a killer, Lord Voldemort seemed determined to keep her alive for some reason and she wanted to know why.
"I'm afraid that that's impossible, my pet. You see, I only give away prisoners to those who have done something to deserve them. Young mister Malfoy has done nothing of the sort and I refuse to give you way to spend the last of your days as one of his sex slaves. No, you have a far greater purpose."
"And what would that be?" Hermione asked, crossing her arms in front of her chest. He made her feel uneasy and all she wanted to do was to curl up and protect herself. She wanted her family, she wanted Harry.
He surveyed her for a moment or two longer before drawing something out of his robes. Hermione looked down and found herself staring at the object he held out to her in bemusement and then up at him.
"What is that?" Hermione asked out of curiosity. Her old ways of having to know everything was coming back to her and she couldn't stop the question from leaving her lips.
He smirked once again. "That, my pet, is for you to figure out. You will have my personal library at your disposal to do any research that you need to do. I will give you a week to figure it out and at the end of the week, I will assess your findings."
"And what happens if I meet your standards?" Hermione asked sceptically. He had to have some ulterior motive for having her to do this and she knew that in it she would discover her fate.
He smirked and his red eyes were filled with an unfamiliar emotion, one Hermione couldn't identify nor did she think she wanted to. "We'll see at the end of the week," was all he said before lying the object into her awaiting hands.
He turned and strode towards the door, pausing briefly when he opened the door. "My library is the next door that you come to. That'll be as far as you are allowed to go. This door will remain unlocked but know that you are not unguarded. Do not try to escape because, like your hero Dumbledore liked to say, there are some things worse than death."
He looked her up and down one last time before leaving the room and closing the door softly behind him, leaving Hermione alone with only her thoughts and the unfamiliar object in her hands to keep her company. She realized that she much preferred the solitude.
The week was almost up and Hermione rarely left the extraordinary library he had left for her disposal. She was still amazed at the vast amount of knowledge concealed within these walls and glorified in the fact that she had a chance to pore over the endless amount of books. She rarely left the library and only did so when sleep or hunger bored down on her and she had to retreat to her rooms, but as soon as either her hunger was quenched or her sleep over, she was immediately back in the library.
The first thing, though, that she was attending to was the object Voldemort had left her to solve. It was a silver object, very similar to the many gadgets that Dumbledore had kept adorning his office. However, this one was one that she had never seen before.
It was long and round, much like a tube, and very light in weight. On one end was a dial on which ancient symbols were scripted. Hermione knew that it could be turned and yet was afraid to do it because of the consequences it could possibly reek.
On the other end, however, was a most puzzling thing. It was shaped like a arrow head and yet resembled a diamond. It sparkled and glistened whenever one held it up in the light and at night it seemed to glow though Hermione thought it was a trick of the light. The end was sharp and Hermione had once pricked herself upon the tip. As she was nursing her finger, she noticed that where blood should have been on the tip, there was none. Instead, the diamond seemed to turn a reddish hue and looked foreboding.
She was careful from then on out to stay away from the tip. The colour had returned to that of a glistening diamond and Hermione went on with her research, determined to solve this mystery laid before her.
She often felt his presence behind her and ignored it. She became used to him, sitting quietly in the corner, observing her. She grew accustomed to the fact that his red eyes never left her, that he analyzed every step she made.
Sometimes he would talk to her and then she would answer him. Most of the time, there was silence but during the times that they conversed over various topics, Hermione felt something begin to grow inside of her but pushed it away. She was there to concentrate on the object and nothing else. The Dark Lord's odd behaviour towards her would have to be analysed later.
She found the answer where she had least expected it. She had checked every book in the library on powerful wizarding objects and dark magic and was frantic because the week was almost over and Voldemort would soon be bearing down on her.
She slowly walked around the overwhelming library and prayed for an answer. What she didn't expect was to find herself face to face with a small black book that was no bigger than a journal. There were silver letters on it, very similar to the letters on the object.
Hope filled her as she plucked the book from the shelf and rushed back to the table where she had (and with a little delight) had made a mess of research. She moved around some books and spare pieces of parchment to allow her to lie the book down onto a clean spot on the table.
The words seemed to glow on the black cover, but of course, she reasoned, this was only a trick of the light. The title, unlike the rest of the script, was in ancient Latin and she quickly translated it to Living Death: Soul's Possession.
She ran her hand slowly over the book, the title warning her that what she held in her hands was indeed full of Dark Magic, but she soon found that the temptation was just too strong and her hands shook lightly as she opened the book.
There, nothing happened. It was just a plain old book, Hermione told herself though she wasn't so sure of her words. This book, whatever information it held, was evil like its' owner and Hermione, if she had any sense at all, would close it and forget clear about it.
But Hermione was a naturally curious person and could not back away from a challenge, as she was sure Voldemort knew. So instead of turning back, she plunged forward and began to read the text which she had to translate from Latin to English.
She was astonished by the amount of information that this book provided. Not only was it purely evil, but it was also interesting. Hermione soon found that she was transfixed by the words.
Often, the battle of good versus evil results from tensions that grow over a certain time period. But one has to ask themselves: is there such a thing as good and evil? One might look at the history of prominent and less prominent countries and say that there is, but if they delve deeper, they will see that the difference is so scarce that it is hardly recognizable.
Every world, whether magical or not, reaches a point where there is no hope of pulling it back and saving it. During this time, a purification of sorts is needed. Thus, one searches for 'good' and 'evil' and they find those who they deem to fit these descriptions. Only through death will order be restored.
Hermione paused and let these words sink over her. Could the book be right? Did the world need 'purification' as it called it every once in a while to save itself from its own demise? She shook her head and read on, the words washing over her.
A sign of death and life, the Parthenon will appear. This object, made entirely of silver and diamond, was once a symbol of strength and purity yet its' true nature was soon discovered. During a particular period in time when the world seemed to be falling apart, a young Grecian stumbled upon the Parthenon and proclaimed that it signified his right to be the leader of the uncategorized world. As it would be in any nation, controversy ensued.
At night, the Parthenon glowed an eerie colour, lighting up the darkness into which the soul slowly sinks. The young Grecian was pulled from his desolate nature and sank into the realms of the dark. Guilty of conscious, he tried to recover what he had lost: in a single instant he was no longer an innocent boy but a ruler who had no knowledge of war or death nor anything that would help him govern his nation.
Once the liquid of life is absorbed, a person begins to succumb to the power of the Parthenon, unable to fight its' temptation. As the soul sinks lower, the will to live becomes stronger until a person realizes that the line between good and evil is thin and that they are straddling that line. And then, in that very instant, they will succumb to a life of living without guilt.
Hermione closed the book with a snap as the words registered in her mind and she jumped from her seat. Suddenly, there was the distinct sound of cold laughter behind her. Hermione closed her eyes as the truth rang over her and he came behind her, laying his hands upon her shoulders, the coldness of them unnoticed.
"Did you find that particular book interesting?" he asked, his breath tickling her neck and sending shivers down her spine.
She rounded on him, her eyes full of fire and passion. "You knew," she hissed, jabbing his chest with a finger. "You knew all along what that...that...thing would do and..."
"And that you would be curious," he interrupted. "Come, Hermione, you cannot tell me that you did not want to know what it was that fell into your possession. You were just as curious as I thought you would be and I was merely allowing you to discover the truth on your own."
Hermione glared at him, but an instant thought ran through her head. Once the liquid of life is absorbed... She closed her eyes and when she opened them found herself looking at her finger where she had pricked it upon the diamond tip. It was all registering to her now and she suddenly felt some weight lifted off her shoulders.
"What are you thinking of, my pet?"
Hermione looked up into his eyes, the red stirring something within her. "You are aware of the powers of the Parthenon?"
"Yes," he said, his thin lips turning up into a smile. "I am aware of the powers the Parthenon yields. Like you, when I first discovered the object I was naturally curious and therefore set out to discover the truth. However, I think you still have some questions about it..."
Hermione looked at him, then down at the object that she still held in her hands, then back up to him. "The dial," she said softly, "it doesn't say what its' significance is."
He smiled and pulled out a seat for her to take and then took the one beside of her. His presence, which once was unwelcome to her, was now comforting in sort of the way.
"The Parthenon's true powers were discovered after the young Grecian who first discovered it fell into a empty pit of sort. He was too weak to envelope the power and therefore could not control himself. All this magic is Dark, though, my dear Hermione. You felt it as soon as I presented it to you and yet you took it."
Hermione opened her mouth to deny his charge but found that he was right. She had known it was full of Dark magic. The simple fact that he had it in his possession told her that, but it also radiated from it and she assumed that that was what gave it its' eerie glow.
"Not going to deny it?" he asked humorously, his eyes alight with delight at her shortcomings. "And here I thought the noble Gryffindor in you would force you to deny any association with anything dealing with Dark magic. Of course, there have been many Gryffindors succumb to the Dark Arts though they themselves deny the fact. Young Potter, the foolish boy that he was, was one of these though I think everyone would deny that fact."
Hermione felt her temper begin to rise and opened her mouth to defend Harry, and then stopped. Much to her dismay, she felt herself acknowledging the fact that Harry had delved into the Dark Arts though he was doing it for the good of the Wizarding world and Non-magical world alike. Could it be true? Was the line between good and evil so thin that even Harry, the Boy-Who-Lived, had used Dark magic?
"Ah, Hermione, you continue to surprise me," he said pleasantly and Hermione's eyes snapped back to his. Where was the guilt, she wondered, that she would have normally felt at accusing her best friend of using Dark magic.
...a life of living without guilt... The words rang in her head as she bit her lip in thought. Of course she wouldn't feel any guilt, she herself had submerged herself in the Dark Arts until there was no use of digging herself out and she realized quite suddenly that, if given a choice, she would do it again.
"Soon, my pet, you will see that this was for the best," Voldemort was saying and Hermione looked away towards the window. She knew what she would find in his eyes and she didn't want to face the truth at the moment.
She heard him rise from his seat and take her hands to draw her up to stand in front of him. He took her chin in his hands and forced her to look up at him. "I am going to allow you access to any part of the manor. That is, if you don't do anything to make me withdraw this privilege. You shall dine with me and a select few of my followers and also attend a number of the meetings I hold here. I will inform you ahead of time what ones you will attend and which ones you will not."
He glanced around the library. "This library, my library, will also be open for your uses. You will have these privileges as long as you do not do anything to make me retract them. Keep in mind that I like obedience."
He kissed the back of one hand and smiled down at her. "Go, the elves are preparing a bath for you as we speak. Wash your worries away. When you are ready, we will talk of this further."
She watched in numb silence as he glided briskly away and out of the door, leaving her alone in the large room. No guilt, no worries, no ultimate death... She should be happy right?
With a hearty sigh, Hermione walked the small space back to her own rooms and watched in a pregnant silence as three house elves prepared a bath for her, making sure that the water was just the right temperature before stripping off her clothes and ushering her in. Two stayed to help her bathe while the third scampered off with her clothes in hand, returning soon after with a beautiful green dress draped over its arm.
She said nothing as they dried her off and dressed her, taming her unruly hair for her. She stared at her reflection in the mirror as they pulled back her hair and made a quick decision: she was alive and Voldemort was not going to kill her. Her friends were dead and therefore she wouldn't really be betraying them if she just accepted the life that Voldemort offered her.
She was going to take each day as it came...
There were around twelve Death Eaters in the Dining Hall when she was led in by a house elf who she had learnt was named Pipsy. They all appeared unsurprised by her presence there so she could only assume that Voldemort had announced that she would be adjoining them.
She, however, was surprised. When she had received the summons about twenty minutes ago that she was to join Lord Voldemort in the Dining Hall, she had expected just him. Not his full inner circle.
Pipsy led her over to a seat on the left of the head of the table, which was unsurprisingly empty. She figured that Voldemort would wish a big entrance where he was the last to be seated. He probably got a kick out of everyone else having to wait for him.
She sat down hesitantly. The person beside of her shifted and she looked over towards them. She bit back her sharp retort when she noticed who was sitting beside of her; instead she settled for narrowing her eyes dangerously.
She had been told that he was dead and yet here he was, sitting calmly (if not a little severely) beside of her in all of his arrogant glory. His cold grey eyes met hers and she detected a sort of challenge in them. However, there was also something else there, an amount of delight at her discomfort.
"Miss Granger," he said primly, "I do hope you are in good health."
She sat up straighter in her chair, her eyes flashing to his. He was smirking at her, almost a sneer but not quite. "Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. And you, Mr. Malfoy? I do hope you no longer have that bruise. You know, the one you got from being sent flying in the air by one of my curses. The one where you end up stopping by hitting a rather large (and very solid) wall."
Ah, the rush of satisfaction that filled one after their remark hit its target, she absolutely loved the feeling. His jaw tightened as he fought to maintain his temper. He was almost unsuccessful at his attempt, but years of being a collected aristocrat was proving to finally be paying off.
"I assure you, Miss Granger, that there is no discolouration at all. However, I do have you to thank for the night I was forced to spent in the recovery ward being treated by an overbearing and meddlesome nurse. The potions, I assure you, were indeed unwelcome as well."
She shrugged and sent him a unapologetic smile. "I do hope she made them as foul as possible, otherwise how else would you learn your lesson?"
He quirked one angelic eyebrow. "And what lesson would that be, Miss Granger?"
She allowed the answer hang in the air for a moment as her eyes roamed the hall before coming back to him. "That all arrogance should leave you as soon as you step foot on the battlefield for you never know when you will meet an opponent who is actually better than you."
He heard the underlying statement in her answer and was none too pleased about it. His eyes flashed and he opened his mouth to either yell at her for her impertinence or to hex her, Hermione was personally thinking he would go for the latter, when a voice stopped him.
"That will be enough, Lucius," the Dark Lord said as he entered the room, obviously having overheard the entire conversation between one of his most loyal servants and his slave. Every Death Eater in the room rose immediately and bowed low. Hermione was the only one to remain where she was.
"My lord, I apologize but she...," Lucius started but Voldemort once more interrupted him.
"Yes, Lucius, I heard exactly what she said." His red eyes flashed to where Hermione sat calmly and she met his penetrating gaze straight on. "She is right. Arrogance is a weak point in battle, even you should know that. It leads a person into believing they are invincible."
He walked over to his seat and picked up her hand, forcing her to rise from her seat. "Miss Granger, here, has came to a very startling revelation earlier and had decided to rethink her evaluation of us and what we stand for." He looked at her, his eyes sparkling. "Isn't that so, Hermione?"
She refused to give him the satisfaction of answering so instead settled for merely nodding her head in consent. She didn't want to die, not yet, but she wasn't about to surrender to him completely. Some little strange sixth sense told her that he didn't want her to surrender either.
"Sit, Hermione, and enjoy your meal. Tomorrow night, we will celebrate with the rest of my followers."
She looked at him strangely, as did Lucius and Bellatrix who was sitting on his right. "What will we be celebrating, my lord?" the gaunt looking woman asked, her voice still sounding as hollow as it did during Hermione's fifth year.
The Dark Lord smiled almost maliciously and threw a glance over at Hermione. "That, Bella, will be revealed tomorrow evening. For now, merely be content that we will finally be having a formal occasion where we can all dine together."
Hermione was suspicious of his odd behaviour, however the aroma of the succulent roast beef tempted her and she forgot all else as she hungrily consumed the food before her. She would worry about it all later...
Hermione had just removed the satin dress when a knock sounded at her door. She hastily pulled on her dressing gown and knotted it before opening up the door, only mildly surprised at her late night visitor.
"Still awake, Hermione?" Lord Voldemort questioned with a quizzical brow lifted inquiringly. He was leaning lazily against the doorframe as he looked at her and she suspected that few were allowed to see him like this.
"I've been in the library," she answered. She was blocking his entrance into the room, but she knew that if he wanted in the room that he would be able to get in, with or without her permission. She crossed her arms over her chest and stared at him, waiting for him to make the first move.
"I've come to discuss tomorrow night. I think we should be in accordance to a few details before we stand in front of all my followers. Of course, none of them would dare to defy me but one could never be too cautious."
Now she was thoroughly confused. She knew that he planned on celebrating something tomorrow night, but what could it possibly have to do with her. "Sorry, but I'm not following you. What are we supposed to be agreeing on?"
He laughed and stepped past her, somehow managing to shut the door and pin her up against it without her even realizing what he was doing. "Tomorrow, my dear, in front of all of my Death Eaters, we will announce our engagement. We will be married in two weeks time from tomorrow."
The next she knew, she was squatting on the floor with him beside of her, patting her on the back as she fought to regain her breath. She couldn't have possibly heard him right, could she? Him...intending to marry her? It was preposterous!
She must have spoken that last bit aloud for he chuckled, his hand running over her bushy curls. "My dear Hermione, is it so unreasonable for a man in my position wish to have a legitimate heir to rule my kingdom after I am gone? Is it so...preposterous for that same man to want an intelligent and worthy witch to bear him a child?"
She stared at him as if he had grown two heads and was announcing that he was going to start a circus of pointy hat freaks. He sighed dramatically and walked over to the bed, pulling her along after him. He sat down first, indicating a spot near him where she should sit.
"I have searched long and hard for a woman worthy enough of being called my wife, Hermione, and I had almost lost hope, until I heard rumours of your intelligence and was able to witness it first hand during the war. If not for you, the Order and the 'Light' side would have fell long before it did."
He reached out and touched her face, brushing away some hair that was hanging there. "You truly are the brightest witch of your age, you know that? I used to believe that your talents were vastly exaggerated, but over the past couple weeks I have been proven wrong, something I hardly ever admit to." He smiled. "You, Hermione, would make me the perfect wife and I intend on our marriage to be an immense success."
She realized in that instant that there was no way she could possibly turn him down. He was the Dark Lord, after all, and could probably do a lot of bad things to her and still make her marry him. She could do this the painless way or the hard way- either way she was becoming his wife.
"You are insane," she finally said, no humour in her voice, "you know that right?"
He chuckled, his digit reaching out to stroke her cheek. "Of course, my dear. How else do you think I would strike fear into my Death Eaters hearts? By being perfectly sane? I think not."
"Good point. But what about the fact that I'm a mudblood? I mean, your whole stand is one ridding the world of mudbloods, half-bloods, and blood traitors. Wouldn't marrying me go against all that?"
He leaned closer to her and whispered, "I'm sure as Harry Potter's best friend that you know that I am a half-blood myself. Never underestimate the power of one not pure of blood, my dear, for that is when you will be overpowered. I don't underestimate your potential and you shouldn't either. You are destined for great things."
She nodded her head slowly while biting her lip. He had thought over every aspect so there wasn't really anything she could argue with him over. He had decided.
"Well, I guess I really can't refuse, can I? I hope you're not expecting a totally obedient wife, though, because if you are then you've chosen the wrong girl."
He laughed. "I assure you, I expect no such thing. I merely expect an intelligent conversation once in a while and a strong heir to my kingdom." He leaned forward and brushed his lips against her cheek in a surprisingly tender move. "Sleep, Hermione. Tomorrow is a big day."
Hermione stood still as the numerous house elves scurried around her, making last minute adjustments to her dress. She observed herself in the mirror, an unfamiliar girl stared back at her. She had changed since she came here, and she couldn't help but think that it was for the better.
Her body had returned to her, the curves now showing as she gained back the precious weight she had lost. Her hair seemed to shine and her eyes were no longer bitter. The chocolate orbs appeared to stir with life, glistening with an urge to debate the latest issue in the Daily Prophet with her husband-to-be.
She had once thought he would prove to be the worst company a person could ask for, but now she was actually eagerly anticipating his company every night for a round of bickering over something. She loved how he would rise to her little challenges, how his red eyes burned with intensity as he tried to make her yield on an issue.
She was beginning to think that maybe being married to the Dark Lord, the master of all evil, wouldn't be so bad after all...
The knock on the door startled her. Who would be visiting her while she was getting herself ready for her wedding? "Yes?"
The door opened slowly, almost hesitantly, and Bellatrix Lestrange walked through. She bowed her head in acknowledgement of the Dark Lord's bride-to-be. "My lady, I came to see whether you require anything."
Hermione almost let herself smile...almost but not quite. "No, Bellatrix, I do not require anything. I am perfectly fine at the moment; the house elves are doing a superb job. Thank you, though."
Bellatrix bowed her head once more and moved a bit further into the room, watching as the house elves adjusted Hermione's wedding dress. She merely stood silent and waited until the oldest looking one announced that it was finished.
Hermione observed the finished product in the mirror. The dress was made of the finest white material that money could buy- Voldemort had seen to that. It hugged her upper body tight, only brushing out slightly at her hips and falling down in a pool of white and lace. The sleeves of the dress started even with her bosom and was made entirely of lace. The veil trailed the floor and was made of lace, only partly covering her bushy chestnut curls.
"My lady, you look lovely," Bellatrix said and Hermione could almost convince herself that the woman was completely sincere. Bellatrix was angry with her, and she knew it. The older woman had always assumed that she would be the one to bear the Dark Lord a child.
"Thank you, Bellatrix," she said softly. She was still observing herself in the mirror and really didn't feel like getting into it with one of her future husband's most loyal servants. "Is everything almost ready?"
"Yes, my lady. The wedding should start shortly."
"Thank you." She looked over her shoulder at the other woman. "If you don't mind, I'd like a few minutes by myself."
Bellatrix bowed and slowly backed out of the room. "Yes, my lady. I shall just go and inform the Dark Lord that you are ready."
Hermione turned back to the mirror as she heard the door snap shut behind Bellatrix. She brushed the hands over the skirt of her wedding dress, trying to smooth away the invisible creases. She didn't understand why, but she wanted everything to be perfect today...her wedding day.
Strange how she never would have imagined before that she would be marrying Harry's greatest enemy; it was all so bizarre. But here she was, in a white dress, preparing for a long walk down the aisle to bind herself to a man who was one of the evilest wizards out there.
There was an abrupt and demanding knock on the door. She didn't turn as she called for her visitor to enter, instead choosing to continue to stare at her reflection. She looked over slightly in the mirror and spotted Lord Voldemort standing in the doorway, a pleased looking smile on his face.
She turned around with a small smirk on her face as she stared boldly into his red eyes. "Don't you know it's bad luck to see the bride before the wedding?"
"Come, my sweet, I do not believe in such superstitions. Besides, that particular rule excludes overbearing Dark Lords who merely wish to check up on their future wife before the wedding just to see if she looks as stunning as he had envisioned."
She looked at him sceptically with a raised brow before turning back to the mirror, running her hands over her skirt one last time with a deep breath. "And am I?" she finally found the courage to ask, her eyes meeting his in the mirror.
"You are beautiful, my sweet, radiantly beautiful."
She studied his face closely and was shocked to see that he was being completely honest. He seriously meant every word he had just uttered. Maybe, just maybe, this marriage would work and maybe it wouldn't be completely without emotion...
He held out his arm for her to take. "If you are ready, my sweet, it would be my deepest pleasure to escort you into the basilica in which we will be wed. Come, they are all waiting for us."
He smiled at her and she couldn't help but return it. After all, this was her wedding day, probably her only wedding day, and she was going to make the best of it. Yes, she was marrying the Dark Lord but she knew that underneath that cold exterior, there was a man.
Hermione sat in Lord Voldemort's private library with a giant tomb on her lap. Her eyes, though, were not focused on the words in front of her. They were lost in thought as she continuously gazed at the title.
It had been three weeks since she had stood before a quivering man who bounded her to Voldemort for life until one of them departed from this world. It had been three weeks since she had gave herself to the Dark Lord completely in every way possible. It had been three weeks since she had last thought about her deceased friends who she was betraying just by remaining with their enemy.
She no longer felt the familiar pang of sadness she had grown so used to when she thought about their premature death, nor did she feel the guilt she had grown so accustomed to when she remembered that she was still alive. No, all she felt was a sort of happiness at the thought that they were all together in a better place.
"It's not healthy to keep beating yourself up over the past, my love." The voice once made her quiver in fear and yet now she felt none. Instead, that cold draw sent shivers down her spine and brought a warm smile to her face.
"I no longer 'beat myself up' over the past," she responded as she turned her head slightly to watch his progression as he came towards her. She still refused to call him 'my lord' even though he had instructed her to do so. Instead, she referred to him as either Voldemort or, when she wanted to make him mad, some sickening pet name that would make his eyes flare and his body tense.
"Really?" He drew up the chair in front of her until their knees would be nearly touching and sat down. "What were you thinking about then, my love, when I came in? You were clearly in your own little world and only something important would distract you so."
She smirked. "If you must know, I was thinking about our marriage and how fun it is to boss the Death Eaters around now, especially Malfoy."
He returned her smirk and asked in a leisurely drawl, "Which one- junior or senior? I image you find great joy in both seeing as they both used to berate you on your unfortunate heritage."
At that, she gave a dramatic sigh and leaned back in her chair. "Must you insist on always referring to my parents as my 'unfortunate heritage'? I do still love them, you know, even though they are gone."
"I will try to refrain from doing so in the future," was his reply and Hermione was filled with a sort of happiness at the fact that he was acknowledging that they had a future. "However, you did not answer my question: junior or senior?"
"Isn't it obvious?" She quirked one brow and the corner of her mouth turned up slightly as she gazed at him lazily. "I love to order them bother around, but especially Draco. I don't think he's quite gotten over the fact that you married his mudblood childhood enemy."
"You must have patience with him, my love. He has yet to reach his greatest potential. He also has yet to reach maturity."
Hermione laughed at his serious expression and rose from her chair. She knew she shocked him when, instead of tugging on his hand as she usually did, she sat down on his lap, looping her arms around his neck. She felt him hesitantly lift his arms and wrapping them around her waist.
"Do you regret marrying a mudblood?" she asked.
Though she was still smiling at him sweetly, he knew that his answer was very important. It was almost as if she was unsure of herself, something Hermione Granger rarely was. Her eyes were hooded so he could not read what she was thinking, nor did he dare to betray her by entering her mind to read her thoughts.
"Never, my love." He allowed the mask he often wore to lift briefly so she could see his sincerity. "Never doubt yourself. You are the brightest and most talented witch of your age. You are the only woman I would ever consider marriage with and I do not regret my choice in you as a wife."
Hermione's smile brightened then, more genuine than the one she wore before. She leaned forward and allowed her lips to graze over his with deliberate leisure. She caught his lower lip between her teeth, nibbling at it.
"I don't regret marrying you either," she said as his hands pulled her closer, his arms wrapping around her tightly to hold her in place on his lap. "I don't regret one minute of it."
"Not even the fact that you married the murderer of your friends? Your loved ones?" He was testing her, he knew, but he needed to know...wanted to know. "Do you still feel guilt over me allowing you to live while I killed them?"
She stared into his red eyes for so long that he was sure he knew exactly how many gold specks there were in her chocolate eyes. She seemed to be mulling over her answer, trying to decide how best to answer his questions. Or maybe she was merely considering what she felt about what he asked.
"I don't know why," she started slowly, "but I don't feel guilty anymore...about anything. Maybe it's because of the Parthenon, but anyways, I don't feel it."
"And my other question?"
She ran one single digit down the side of his pale face, tracing along his jaw and finally stopping on his lips. "Yes, you killed them and I'll never forget that. But I've come to realize that if you didn't kill them, you would be killed. So I guess my answer to your question is no, I don't regret the fact that I married a murderer." She smiled. "After all, I'm a murderer too."
He smirked and kissed the pad of her finger. "Yes, I seem to recall that you murdered some of my best Death Eaters, mainly Nott. I truly did regret his death."
"Really?" She raised one sarcastic brow. "Well maybe I should have allowed him to win and then you could have him here on your lap instead of me."
"Are you getting sassy with me, my love?" He nipped at her finger and twisted her around until she was straddling him. "Besides, I do believe that he would have been too heavy for me."
Hermione slapped her hands to her cheeks in mock shock. "Oh my, who would have believed it? The Dark Lord has a sense of humour. It's a miracle."
"The only miracle here, my love, is the fact that we're still here, in this dusty old library when we could be somewhere else."
The suggestive glint in his eyes made her giggle and jump from his lap, grabbing his hand and pulling him up as she went. He curled one possessive arm around her waist as they journeyed from the library to the master suite."
On the full moon two weeks later, Hermione discovered that she was pregnant. She withheld from telling her husband, though. She wasn't sure how he would take the news. She wondered whether he would be angry and consider the baby an imposition, or whether he would be overjoyed at the prospect of her carrying his child.
Judging by his disdain of most children- well, of all children- she would say the former which is why every time she opened her mouth to tell him, she would close it again and walk off. She was stalling and she knew it.
Whatever his reaction, she knew that she would never be able to get rid of her baby, her miracle. Already it was a part of her and she wanted it more than she had ever wanted anything before. She would never get rid of it, no matter how angry Voldemort would get.
She stood from the window seat and walked over to the mirror on the opposite wall. The girl starring back at her was one she did not recognize. She seemed older, more mature than the Hermione she once knew. What had happened to change her so?
Her marriage, of course. She had left behind that girl she once knew when she had gave herself to Lord Voldemort and in her place stepped a woman. That woman would be able to do a verbal battle with her husband where she was sure the girl would not.
"I can't help but wonder what has you frowning so."
Hermione jerked around, one hand flying to her chest as she faced the very man she was currently dreading to see. She forced a light laugh and a smile to her lips. "I must ask that you stop doing that."
"What?" he asked completely innocent.
"Sneaking up on me," she clarified. "You're going to give me a heart attack one of these days if you keep doing it."
"Forgive me if I do but I assure you I do not do it intentionally," he apologized, bowing his head slightly though his red eyes never left hers. "However, I do knock before I enter. It just seems that you are always in your own little world and do not hear me when I enter."
"Then it is I who must apologize." She turned away from him as she said this, turning back around to stare at her reflection. She watched in the mirror as he approached her, lying one pale hand on her shoulder, forcing her to turn back around to face him.
"What is troubling you, my love?" He cupped her cheek tenderly in his hand. "You have not been yourself for the past two days. There is something wrong with you and I wish you'd share with me your burdens."
She hesitated, the truth of the matter on the tip of her tongue, but once again she found herself unsure. "I don't know if I can," she responded honestly, causing him to frown. "I want to, but I'm afraid."
He gazed at her, his red eyes burning into hers with an intensity she had never saw before. "Never fear me, Hermione, for I will never harm you."
She swallowed. "It is not I who I fear you might harm."
When she made to put her head down, he placed a single finger under her chin and forced her to keep her head up and look at him. His eyes were curious as he took her in, no doubt wondering about her sudden change in mood. Finally, he sighed and turned away from her.
She watched as he walked over to his private cabinet and unlocked it with his wand. He extracted something from its depths and stood there observing it with his back to her. When he did finally turn, she was shocked by what he held.
"You once asked me what the dial was for," he said thoughtfully as he continued to gaze down at the Parthenon, "and I neglected to answer you. But now...now I think I should tell you what it is." His eyes lifted to hers. "Now I am giving you a choice."
He walked over to her slowly, his hands grasping the Parthenon as if it was a sacred object. He extended it to her but she did not reach out her hands to take it. Instead, she waited for him to explain.
"The dial has the ability to erase, to change one event. It allows a person, the one whose blood resides inside of the tip, to choose whether to go back and change an event." He ran a finger down the length of it. "I am offering you that choice, Hermione. If you so choose, you can turn this dial and change the outcome of the war. You could have your friends back, you can even have your parents back. You could be single again and find your own husband."
She choked back a small sob as she stood there staring at him. However, he would not return her gaze and instead continued to stare down at the Parthenon. Hesitantly, she reached out and touched his hand, making him jump slightly.
"Why?" she asked, her voice breaking with emotion. "Why are you offering me this choice? Why are you giving me the chance to destroy you?"
He looked up at her, his eyes no longer hooded as he gazed at her, conveying every ounce of human emotion he had in his body to her at that moment. "Isn't it obvious?"
She understood, then, and knew what her decision would be. It all made sense to her now, how over the entire time they had been together he had slowly changed in his manner towards her. It was even obvious in the little pet names that he had called her. He used to call her 'my pet' but now he was referring to her as 'my love' which was odd since she had once thought that he was enable to feel anything at all.
She took a step closer and reached out to grab the hand that was running up and down the Parthenon. She slowly moved it until it was resting over her stomach where their baby rested.
"I'm afraid that I'm going to have to decline your offer," she said seriously with a small smile. "You see, I'm happy here...with you. I want to stay here with you...and our baby."
He looked a little unsure of himself as she stepped into his embrace, resting her head on his chest and breathing in his scent. He wrapped his arms tightly around her, the Parthenon dropping to the floor forgotten as the two merely stood there holding on to each other.
It was an unspoken truth that they were going to be okay, that everything was going to be fine. Their future was not yet fully written but together they would write their story for future generations to remember them and how love could touch even the coldest of creatures.