Chapter 3: Confusion
The following morning found Draco Malfoy sitting at the dining room table, enjoying an early breakfast.
Dawn had barely swept over the horizon, announcing the commencement of yet another day, filled with bright new possibility.
Yet as he sat there, blankly staring at the front page of the Daily Prophet, the young Malfoy felt strangely empty for the first time in months.
A clear lack of sleep was visible in the heavy pools of violet underneath his eyes, contrasting deeply against his pale skin.
Her screams had kept him up all night.
Even though he had the possibility of casting a silencing charm, he couldn't allow himself to.
The frightful screeches served as a perverse reminder of times long gone, and things to come.
The newspaper held no maters of interest for him thus soon being discarded to one side of the heavily polished table.
He sipped at his cup of tea, grey eyes vacantly gazing out the large French windows and into the lush garden.
The view reminded him of a time long gone; a time when he still held on to childish innocence, as he played underneath the warm gaze of the British sun in his mother's gardens.
Her pride and joy.
Contrary to popular belief, Draco Malfoy had had a surprisingly blissful childhood. He hadn't been fed muggle limbs for breakfast nor forced to drink their blood at super. Nor had he been Crucioed every time he mispronounced a word.
At least not at first.
An only child, he had been his mother's pride and joy, as well as the object of her constant attentions.
She had fawned over him during every second the day had to offer, ensuring that her only son never once went without.
He was bathed in gifts of every shape and kind while also being moulded into the image of the perfect gentleman.
A perfect pureblood.
His impeccable manners and endearing dimpled smile often caused all of his mother's friends to fawn all over him upon every occasion.
He remembered the days when his parents would host elaborate parties at the manor. His mother would dress him in impressive, impeccably tailored dark dress robes that matched those of his father.
She would then send him out to mingle, for after all, any Malfoy was born a charmer.
As for Lucius Malfoy, he had been the perfect father, teaching his one and only son how to ride a broom and play Quidditch. The young Draco had idolized his father and for good reason.
Their family had been the picture of perfection.
Those had been carefree days. Days when his parents still cared for one another; days before his family was abruptly torn apart; days before the arrival of the terror.
Everything had changed afterwards.
Draco remembered coming home after his first year at Hogwarts and finding a radically different household.
No longer was the manor the warm and inviting place of his childhood. It was now cold, as if imitating his father's heart. It was haunted by the phantoms of memories long gone.
Lucius had started drinking.
The stress of his old master's arrival was too intense for him to accept with a sober mind. Often, when plans failed, Lucius would take out his anger on Narcissa.
Draco could still remember her screams as night, followed by the hollow sounds of crashing furniture.
There was nothing he could do. She kept him away for his own good, even though seeing his mother like that killed him inside.
Her beautiful aristocratic features would often be marred by black and blue.
She never was the same after that.
Yet Narcissa loved her husband with all her heart, and no matter what he did to her, she always submitted to his wills.
It was a love bordering obsession.
It was deadly.
And now in later years she still clung to it desperately, as if it were her only bridge to reality.
Draco however, contrasted her deeply in his feelings for his father.
He loathed the very ground that Lucius had walked on. Nevertheless, this strong hatred had been a product of the years.
At first, he had continued to worship his father, choosing to ignore his many faults. Young Draco desperately tried to please his father in any way possible, though that had become a seemingly unattainable task.
It was never enough.
It was as if Lucius gained a sick, twisted pleasure from always mentally pushing his son down and doubting and criticizing his every action.
Nevertheless, Draco continued in his quest for approval. It became his fixation. Many of his actions in later years of schooling were a direct result of this obsession, and not something that he was proud of now.
Eventually though, he lost that fire in his heart that urged him onwards. He remembered clearly the day when it happened.
It was the day when he was first brought forth in front of the Dark Lord, along with all his other fellow young initiates. That evening, the Dark Lord forced everyone to take of their mask and watch as he tortured and raped a young mudblood before their eyes.
Those who depicted any emotion other than malicious content were Crucioed on the spot.
Draco had known her, vaguely remembering her to have been years older than he, and also attending Hogwarts. He remembered the girl's piercing screams and the way she looked him in the eyes, pleading for help.
It had only made him smirk in return.
Surprisingly, he had been unaffected.
Draco remember gazing up in search for his father, however, whom he soon found standing among the older Death Eaters. Then, he noticed a flicker of fear pass his features, as he forced himself to watch the grotesque site before him.
At that moment, Draco lost all respect for his father; the man who permanently forced an ice exterior to take over his actions was really nothing but a coward.
There was nothing worth proving to a coward.
As he moved his eyes back of the sight of the mudblood, his gaze lingered on the Dark Lord for a few brief seconds. The demon was looking back at him, a calculating look had taken over his features.
Draco remembered the feeling of his mind being probed by piercing bright eyes, before the creature smiled slowly at him. He didn't doubt that Voldemort had known exactly what Draco had been thinking, and it seemed to please him.
In later months, this clear contempt for his father seemed to aid him.
He had failed the Dark Lord in killing Dumbledor, something that angered him greatly.
Voldemort, however, blamed his father, and ordered the young Malfoy to prove his allegiance.
He ordered him to raise his wand against his own father.
To kill him for he had become of no use.
This would have to serve as a warning to all those who watched.
And many did watch in anticipation, excited by the prospect of the mighty Lucius Malfoy's downfall.
He found himself glancing out the window for what was probably the tenth time in the past minute. Even though no one was there, he still carried the terrifying feeling that someone would come crashing through the door of the tiny cottage any minute. This feeling followed him around everywhere.
It had become part of his existence. But really, who could blame him after all that he had gone through. All those whom he had cared for were gone.
Killed in their last, and most brutal battle.
Ron, Hermione, Tonks, Lupin, George, Moody, Lavender, Dean, Ginny.
Sweet Ginny how he missed her.
The list went on. There had been hundreds of casualties. There were only a handful of Order members left, who still fought onwards.
It had become their purpose in life. Yet he saw the look etched on all of their faces. A product of the many things that they had seen. Things that no human should ever be forced to witness. The look was a result of the numerous sleepless nights caused by horrific nightmares that depicted the reality in which they were forced to exist. Their faces were aged beyond their years, their bodies broken and minds fatigued.
This war was not the stuff of faerie tales, where honourable warriors fought a just and noble fight, both sides striving to protect their people, and allowing their adversary to always pick the remains of their fallen post battle. On the contrary, this had been a gruesome and bloody war that had undoubtedly left all those involved scarred for life with the images of pain torture and violence.
He could still hear the screams of pain in his head, they followed him around everywhere. It partially shocked him to know that he himself had inflicted some of said pain. The light side had fought far from honourably, matching their opponents stride by stride in every move. Almost.
He shuddered to remember what had been done to the war prisoners the torture inflicted upon the men. The women being used as servants, raped and mutilated.
For Harry Potter life had began to boarder the unbearable. Yes, he still lived. And yes, he would continue fighting till the end. Truthfully though, there was nothing worth fighting for.
He fought for the lives of generations to come and nothing more. All those who had once served as his inspiration were long gone. As for him, he could not ever imagine a life without them.
Not now not ever.
He was tired.
Tired of fighting, tired of living. All he really wished to do was end it for once and for all and restore a certain sense of normality for those who were left.
Yet during the long days he faced following the terrible battle, a new emotion had edged its way into his soul.
He didn't really care that much. Not anymore. All those who had meant something to him were gone, so why fight for a future devoid of happiness? Why fight for the lives of those to come, when he himself had been forced to live a less than happy life?
He had practically been born only to fight, never truly understanding the concept of happiness. He saw the way those around him had always looked at him. He was only a tool.
So why fight for something, without ever being able to enjoy the aftermath and ravel in the victory? The prophecy said it all, one could not die if the other still lived.
So why should he go through all of that, only to ultimately die? At times, he wondered whether Voldemort hadn't really been sent by some divine force, to cleans the wizarding world of all its vice. To push them down a few step and make them realize that they were not the gods which they represented themselves as being.
For once in his life, Harry Potter simply wished to give up, a thought which of recent times seemed to consume his every thought.
But give up and do what?
She began to stir, slowly awakening from a deep sleep. She relished in the feeling of silken sheets against her skin. Her mind was rather blurry still, not quite taking in the situation at hand just yet.
For now, only her senses were at work.
She felt so deliciously warm and comfortable that all she wished to do was turn around and fall asleep one more. Yet the nagging feeling at the back of her brain prevented her from doing so just yet.
She slowly opened her eyes, taking in her lush surroundings. The bed she lay on was a large canopy bed, clothed in cream coloured sheets. Dark carved mahogany contrasted against the pale green of the walls.
The room was fairly plain, yet completely elegant in its simplicity.
She gazed to her left, hey eyes falling on a large window. The lace curtains were slightly drawn allowing her a view of lush green gardens.
Yet as she lay there, analyzing her surroundings, something felt incredibly off. Her mind seemed completely blank.
There were no thoughts where there should have been. Yet as she slowly began to panic, a flood of information swept over her taking her breath away.
Hundreds of things flooded her in waves of intensity and for a splitting moment she felt as if her brain would not be able to take it. She remembered books, hundreds of them; a fairytale castle, flaming red hair paired with forget-me-not eyes, round framed glasses, a large ginger cat, a gold and red scarf, and crimson blood, so much of it.
And then everything came back to her. The screaming, the cursing, the green lights, the dead bodies.
Everything came back in a painful gust and she began to scream.
Her head felt as if it were about to explode, the memories pouring in at a preposterous rate. She felt as if her whole body was on fire, the heat concentrating in her palms.
Her eyes were clenched shut, vainly trying to block away the images. She never heard the door open nor did she see the look of absolute shock and amazement that took over Draco Malfoy's features.
The sight in front of him was terrifying, yet intriguingly so.
All the furniture in the room had been raised a few feet of the ground, hovering in thin air. What looked like a tornado or electricity surrounded the mudblood who sat raised on the bed, her eyes shut tight and her hands clutching her temples.
The screaming never stopped.
The energy surrounding her seemed to multiply, as objects in the room were slowly being swept into the hurricane. He debated approaching her, yet decided against it. He prized his head far too much. However, he knew that if he didn't stop her, the display of accidental magic may kill her. The dark lord would not be happy, a scenario which would also cost him his head undoubtedly. So either way, there seemed no chance that by the end of the day, that particular organ would continue to be attached to the rest of his body.
In a moment of brilliance, he pulled out his wand, deciding that the best way to proceed was by stunning her. He did not hesitate to do so, and in an instant, the tornado disappeared, and all the objects which it had attracted dropped to the ground with loud thumps.
He proceeded cautiously into the room, attempting not to step on anything through the process. She lay unconscious on the bed, as if nothing had ever happened.
Draco gingerly grabbed her wrist, measuring her pulse, which still beat at a less than normal rate. He waited a few minutes, before finally deciding to revive her.
She blinked rapidly a few times, before her eyes seemed to adjust to the room, and then focus onto his face. She stared at him for a few long minutes, her eyes never once betraying her emotions.
"Do you know who I am?" he asked in a hard, steady voice.
"Excellent!" he murmured to himself. "Now the better question, Granger, would be what is the last thing you remember?"
"A battle" she whispered, her voice cracking form lack of use. "I remember being hurt, hit by a curse. Then someone stabbed me, I believe," her answer was oddly clinical and calm.
"That's it?" he asked, receiving a nod as confirmation. "Interesting, can you stand?"
In response, she gingerly swung her legs over the side of the bed, and attempted to rise. At first, she stumbled clumsily towards him, causing him to merely take a few steps backwards. He did not particularly wished to be touched by her. Eventually though, she straightened herself, looking up to hold his gaze.
He noted a strange emotion within her eyes. He wasn't sure whether it was defiance or fear.
"Excellent. This does indeed set everything up before schedule. I'll have a healer check you immediately," he said as he began to retreat from the room. "Oh, and do prepare yourself for a visit afterwards. Shall we say it's a rather delayed social call."
He left her then, making sure to lock the door behind him. No use in having her try to escape and get lost through the process. He has briefly concluded that it would be better to tell her as little as possible
at first, so as to not coincide with Voldemort's own plans. He intended to take her straight to him, the minute the healer finished, no use in wasting time.
Roughly an hour later, Hermione Granger found herself walking the all too familiar grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She did not do so under normal circumstances, however. The grounds were dark and sinister, a great contrast to its previous years of glory.
Malfoy's iron grip over her upper hand guided her towards the majestic edifice at a fast pace, that she was barely able to keep up, even though she never let it show.
Her head felt as if it were about to explode. It felt as if her mind was in pain. By this point, however, she was above the point of disorientation and confusion. She had no idea what the hell was going on, but she knew it wasn't good, especially considering she was heading to Hogwarts alongside Draco Malfoy, Death Eater extraordinaire.
She had of course tried to question him regarding the situation at hand, he however had simply sneered at her and cast a silencing charm without sparing her another glance or word.
Her initial confusion upon waking up in the abandoned hospital came back to her, as she remembered the desolate state of the city.
She imagined it might have looked similar to what it had looked like during the Second World War, during the bombing.
She was completely clueless as to what could have possibly caused it. Or at least she liked to pretend that she was. Deep down within her chest, however, a knot of fear had settled itself while in the back of her mind, many unsettling thoughts sprang to life as to what had possibly happened.
This scenario was of course one that explained perfectly why she was being escorted towards Hogwarts, which had initially been the light side's strongest fort.
Needless to say, Hermione Granger was slowly starting to realize how terrified she truly was.
By this point they had entered the castle and made their way to the Great Hall.
Malfoy stood in front of the door for a few seconds as if awaiting some silent permission before entering. He roughly pulled her along towards the center of the room before falling into a deep bow.
By this point, cold realization finally hit Hermione, as she found herself face to face with the subject of many of her worst nightmares. Lord Voldemort himself.
"Bow, you filthy mudblood!" hissed Malfoy pushing her towards the floor. "You should be grateful the Great Lord even allows you to be in his presence."
Hermioen of course refused, glaring daggers at Malfoy, even though she was still unable to speak.
"As feisty and foolish as any Gryffindor," hissed the creature that sat upon the throne at the centre of the room. "Bring her forth Draco so I can have a better look and release her from the charm."
Malfoy did as requested, and Hermione soon found herself staring in astonishment at the serpent like man.
"I have heard of your intelligence young mudblood, however you seem to posses no true wit, for if you did, you would be more cautious considering you current situation. Do not forget whose presence you currently are in, nor the fact that you are beyond blessed to still be alive."
"I'm not scared!" she blew out with rage, forgetting the circumstances. "You may do as you wish with me but I shan't give up a word. I'm sure that soon enough Harry will defeat you and come for me."
Lord Voldemort studied her for a few seconds before breaking out in a high pitched maniacal laughter.
"Is that so?" he mocked, before fixing his glowing eyes upon her own. She felt her mind being pierced by the red orbs and desperately tried to fight him before realizing it was far too late. Her mind was still too weak.
"Hmmm that is very interesting indeed," he finally murmured to no one in particular. "Draco, you may set the mudblood outside for I need to have a chat with you in private."
Within seconds, Hermione found herself outside the Great Hall and away from the terrifying crimson eyes. She felt herself release a sigh from deep within her chest. She had not realized that she was holding it in.
Malfoy left but not before charming her so she could not move from her spot. She had hoped that he would have been less observant than that, but alas, Lady Fortune seemed to have abandoned her.
Hermione's mind was a blur, and for what felt like hours, she tried to make some sense of the little information that she had been provided. Unfortunately, it all pointed to one direction, and the worst of all possible scenarios. She dared not think what could have possibly happened during her stint in the hospital. However, the rational side of her was convinced that nothing too serious could have occurred in a few days.
After all, that was how long she had been in the hospital, Right?
Soon she was brought out of her thoughts though by heavy footsteps. For a fleeting moment she was overjoyed by the thought of being saved, however, her mind regained consciousness soon after, making her realize that no such thing would occur in Lord Voldemort's layer.
She desperately hoped that whoever it was would leave her alone. Two men rounded the corner. Both were dressed in black robes covered by heavy travelling cloaks. They were both tall with heavy bodies and vulgar, non defined features. One was a bit shorter than the other, and had fiery red hair accompanied by a sprinkle of freckles. For a brief second she wondered whether he may be related to any of the Weaselys, but quickly dismissed that thought considering the circumstances she was in.
Hermione groaned softly as they stopped upon seeing her.
"Look at what we 'ave 'ere!" roared the red haired man, grinning at his companion. "This ain't no place for a young lass such as yourself. You never what unsavoury characters you may bump into."
"Ha, you mean like you two!"snorted Hermione in disgust. She could smell alcohol in the air. It was very much like cheap firewisky.
"If I were you I'd watch my tongue," said the second one, advancing towards her in a predatory fashion. The red haired man howled with laughter before joining his companion. "Because right now I guarantee you I can think up about a hundred different ways in which we could put that tongue of yours to better use."
"So sorry to disappoint but I'm not exactly into threesomes nor Neanderthals for that matter ," she bit back, anger raising in her chest. How exactly did she manage to get herself into these situations?! She found herself praying that Malfoy would come out soon, because even he was better than these two.
The red haired man was in front of within a second, his face contorted in anger. He immediately pulled out a small object, which Hermione soon realized was knife.
"I've just about 'ad enough of you, so you can either come willingly and make it up to us, or I may just have to carve that pretty little face of yours so you learn to listen better." As he said this, he moved the sharp end of the knife across her cheek, administering just enough pressure to slice part of her skin.
Hermione felt the sting but didn't dare show any signs of weakness. She felt a deep knot of fear grab a hold of her heart, and was about to scream when the taller of the two roughly grabbed her upper arm.
"I do suggest you unhand her this instant, Wilkins," ordered a silky cold voice form behind her. Hermione breathed a sigh of relief, for the first time in her life being happy to see Malfoy.
"O-of course Lord Malfoy," said the taller man in a panicked voice, immediately letting go of her and bowing his head in obedience. Hermione was surprised by the fear erected my Malfoy who even though tall, was far smaller and less gangly than the two men.
"I may just have to consult our Lord about how to deal with you two. It has come to my attention that you have become rather useless in past months. Failure does not please my lord," continued Malfoy, silently releasing her from the charm and walking up behind her. "Oh and do see that this incident does not occur again, I really do not appreciate apes of your calibre and intellect manhandling my fiancée."
Hope you all like, I know it took a while for this update but i had a few problems in composing this chapter. From here on it's smooth sailing tough. I have rough drafts of the next few chapters, and a good idea of where I want this story going. As for what's happening, hm well are you confused yet? Don't worry some stuff will be revealed in the next chapter but i do warn you this will not be a very fluffy love story type fic. Please leave me a review with your thoughts and criticisms.