Disclaimer: Not mine, don't sue.
A/N: Sorry it's a bit late guys but hopefully you enjoy the next bit! I'm going off on holiday for a month but I'll be updating once I get back again, you're incredible if you're still reading this. I'm determined to finish it!
I've even written the ending and if you're keeping track, there's only one more day until we're back into the present and y'all get to see the wrap up. Thanks for reading and do review, you know you want to. ;)
Chapter 12: Waste
The large stone chamber spread out massively before them where an archaic courtroom of sorts was set up. Upon a wooden alter rising up from the center of the room was a wicker mat with a small metal hoop laid out in front of it.
Hermione felt her neck scream in protest as the rusted ring pulled against her skin, their captor dragging her forward without much consideration.
The crowd was faceless, just legions of black hoods, their true identities hidden within shadow.
Hermione kept her head low and focused on the spell, it took a great deal of energy to maintain without a wand but she had been practicing for months for this. It was simple, because the spell did not originate form her own powers but rather those around her, which is why only those with wands would see her as Ginny Weasley.
It had taken her almost the full year to perfect this and it was only late at night that she could practice when so many at Hogwarts had wands. But somehow, someone had figured her out.
She had been careful practicing with Professor Flitwick, her hands behind her as she willed his wand to cast the charm upon her, so that he would see her not as she was but who he believed she would be. They had not yet tested it on another human victim until her experiment just a few hours prior. Thankfully it was a success but she was about to see how it would work on a grander scale. The room was filled with sentient beings, each bearing a wand, but it was not difficult to expand the spell just to begin it. Which is why it was so crucial that Malfoy had a wand at the beginning. That's how she knew it would work.
He was helping her more than he realized.
The floor rose up before her and shakily she made her way up the rickety stairs before her, seating herself on the mat. The chain around her neck was fasted to the ring on the ground and she stilled. There was nothing she could do, it was all Malfoy now.
If he denied her then it would all be over, they had to believe she was Ginny Weasley to allow the spell to succeed. Almost as an after thought she considered that any one of them letting their wands leave their person would also be freed from the enchantment but in battle, here in the very hearth of the dark side, separation from one's wand was like separation from one's head, it was death.
She knew that Ginny Weasley wouldn't be killed here, because even the Death Eaters were aware of how Harry felt about the youngest Weasley; she was far to valuable for mortal death, oh no, they'd use her as collateral. It wouldn't go as far as that of course, Hermione just needed to live long enough to play out the rest of the plan.
A hooded man stepped over the gate that barred the Death Eaters from the center of the ring. The black fabric he donned swept the floor regally and she shuddered. It was about to begin.
"We are here for one reason, and one reason only." He bellowed but the masses were silent, stagnate; it was almost as if they were dead.
"This girl, masquerading as a mudblood, was taken from Hogwarts by Draco Malfoy. He has revealed to us her true identity. She in fact the Weasley girl, a pureblood." He spat the word as if it were a curse but there was once again no response. Hermione chanced a glance upwards but there were no faces visible through the shadows.
She'd just have to wait.
"She is also Harry Potter's greatest weakness." At this there was a rush of cloth and then pounding as feet began to beat against the floor in approval. It matched the pace of her heart perfectly and she letting out a gasping breath before closing her eyes before the rhythm could break her focus.
"I call Draco Malfoy to the stand." Silence as the voice cut through the noise, slicing it to it's sudden death.
Malfoy walked forward, his steps halting but his face was stony. He didn't look at her.
He knelt before the standing Death Eater, and stilled as a pale white hand crept out of the sleeve before him, gracing his neck. Hermione could see him shudder from here but he contained himself impressively fast.
The fingers turned into a grip and they yanked Malfoy to his feet.
"As far as I can tell, the girl up there is…" He trailed off, looking at Hermione again and she met his gaze pleadingly. He nodded to himself.
"A Weasley," he paused.
With a breath, he continued, a wry smile on his face, playing his part to perfection.
"You can't fake that hair." The crowd jeered at this and Hermione felt herself starting to smile, which she quickly stomped out. He smirked at the crowd, enjoying the attention. The fire flickered over his hair, the sheer brilliance of the color cutting through her. His eyes were sharp though; they didn't mirror the amusement he was portraying with his words.
She had no idea if Malfoy was actually helping her. But as long as he played along, she didn't care. That was the beauty of this situation, she knew that what she wanted him to do and what he was expected to do were one.
But there was always that chance, that he was willing to risk his life to expose a truth he didn't know how to prove, in which case he would reveal her true identity. That was an option she had considered at great length but had determined it unlikely. But he was conflicted, she could read it in him, whether his words to her earlier were in jest or truth, he was conflicted because he didn't understand. And until he was sure he wouldn't risk his own life. He had never been impulsive without reason.
Still it was a relief that that portion was over.
"Wonderful." The hooded figure pulled back the cloth shading his face, revealing a silver mask. But the hair that spewed from the brim was unmistakable.
So Malfoy wasn't lying when he said that his father was in on this. Hermione felt a rush of sympathy for him. Her life had been carefully nurtured by parents that were quirky but almost exploding with affection and support for her.
This was not a facet of human life she was often exposed to.
"Well done, indeed Draco. It seems my talented son has finally done something right." The adjective came out with a sneer but Malfoy seemed unaffected.
He was staring determinedly at the floor. Lucius stepped over to him and Hermione saw his fingers reach over to grab his shoulder.
"You will look at me when I talk to you." The words were acidic and she felt the bitterness in them but Malfoy continued to look unperturbed.
He turned to his father, knocking the hand on his shoulder off before kneeling.
"My apologies." The words were insincere but his voice was unaffected as ever.
Lucius looked furious, his hand snapped back faster than Hermione could follow it and Malfoy's hand was suddenly over his cheek, an angry red blossoming underneath his fingers.
The courtroom was silent.
"You will not embarrass me again." It was whispered but the words cut through the quiet of the stone atrium like an unforgivable curse. No one had missed it.
Malfoy stood; she could see him seething from here, his hands gripped into tight fists and his posture rigid.
His father stepped back and faced the crowd before addressing them.
"My son will escort her back to the dungeon and tomorrow we will present her to the Dark Lord." Upon the mention of His name, the Death Eaters raised their palms and caressed their individual markings that tied them to their cause. It was an eerily beautiful symphony of movement, in perfect unison accompanied only by the whispers of cloth brushing against flesh.
She felt Malfoy walk up to the platform and pull the chain off the ring and she hastily stumbled down the stairs, as he didn't seem to be in a mood to wait for her.
The hoods followed her as she walked and she felt their gaze, penetrating through her mask and she felt herself falter.
They can't see me. She reminded herself. Still she couldn't help but chance a glance backwards but there were no faces just darkness.
The jeering started and for a second she felt it slip but she focused steely and kept walking. Malfoy in an unthinking gesture of gallantry paused at the door before allowing her to go first.
She saw him turn back once before bowing slightly to the crowd, his eyes never leaving his fathers'.
They went out into the hallway and then headed towards the dungeon at an agonizingly slow pace.
Malfoy was breathing harshly but his fingers maintained fists at his sides.
He passed under a torch and for a second she thought she saw the glimmer of water on his cheeks but she ignored it. Averting her gaze, knowing that any sort of sympathy would probably get her killed.
He was silent, only his rapid exhales breaking through the quiet that shrouded them.
The guard at the door nodded before opening it and then closing it after Malfoy who dropped the chain like it was burning him and retreated to the corner. He leaned against the corner and tilted his head back, eyes cast firmly on the ceiling.
Hermione felt torn, part of her felt that instinct to go comfort the boy who was obviously affected by that abusive display but on the other hand, this wasn't Ron or Harry, this was the boy that had tormented them at Hogwarts and was well on his way to becoming a Death Eater.
She took a step forward.
"If you don't want to die, mudblood, you'll stay on your own fucking side." His voice was hoarse and low, tinged with outrage. It was said quietly but the suddenness and the furor in his voice made it seem like he was screaming at her.
She took another step forward. This was stupid, incredibly stupid but she couldn't leave him, not like this. She had to try. He had risked a great deal for her whether he knew it or not, she couldn't abandon him now.
"It's like you want to get hurt." The sarcasm in his words twisted into fury as she took another step but he sounded exhausted.
And then suddenly she was right in front of him and the watery tracks on his face were clear in the light that pervaded their tiny cell.
He was looking determinedly away from her.
"Mal- Draco, I just-"
"What? What could you possibly have to say? It's okay, are you going to tell me that it's fucking okay and that I can't let my father win. That I have to be strong?"
Hermione faltered, he obviously needed to vent somehow.
"Well save your breath, because I don't care about that, that was nothing." His voice was quiet then and she heard him take a breath, and then another one slightly quicker.
He screwed his eyes shut.
The handprint on his face was vibrant and she wished she could heal him, but she had no wand and besides touching him was the last thing she wanted to do right now. She had no doubt that he would actually hurt her then.
"Get the hell away from me." He finished, his tone subdued but still furious. He was almost beautiful, sad and desperate though he was. The black robes draped over him lovingly, no doubt tailored perfectly for him, the material as expensive as it was dark.
His hair stood out in brilliant contrast, the strands falling across his face. His eyes, when he finally opened them and looked at her, were slightly misted, but the gray piercing through like a knife.
He was anger and misery entwined in one petulant, princely bundle.
"I just wanted to thank you." She said quietly.
He chuckled darkly at that.
She waited, for something more and she wasn't disappointed.
"But if you think I did that for you, then you're stupider than I though you were."
"I didn't." She breathed and gingerly placed a hand on his arm. He stilled.
This was the moment, she thought to herself, this was the moment when he'd see that there was more to life than abusive father's and damning expectations. He'd understand.
"Don't touch me, mudblood."
She hated it that word, she hated but there was less of an edge to his voice, she was sure of it. Still, she withdrew her hand, there was no reason to tempt fate.
"I'm sorry." She whispered it, leaning in slightly, desperate to break through to him; she was so close.
He looked up at her, seemingly just realizing how close she was getting because he scowled at her, before moving his mouth just over the tip of her ear.
"Granger, I don't need your pity." She feel his heated breath just before he flipped her around, his fingers resting precariously over her collarbone.
He pressed into the delicate flesh, and she shivered at the sensation of the calloused tips of his fingers tracing the curve of her neck lightly.
He pushed her back against the wall and she pressed herself up on her toes, gaining an inch or two but Malfoy still towered over her, the top of her head barely brushing his chin.
He leaned down, meeting her eyes and she recoiled slightly at the vicious disgust in them.
"It's funny," he began, he's thumb making absentminded circles against her neck and she felt her knees weaken, but she grit her teeth determined not to give in.
"As a Weasley you're almost decent to look at, unfortunately for me, I'm not into the believing mood right now." He sneered and she felt warmth stirring low in her stomach. She felt almost proud, he'd figured out part of it. It wasn't so simple, not anyone would have pieced even that much together with the slight hints she had placed.
Oddly she didn't mind his fingers anymore, and as he drew closer and his voice dropped deeper she barely restrained herself from leaning in.
She let go of her concentration, the enchantment wavered for a moment before flickering out. Whatever happened now he would see her as she was. She met his gaze with determination.
"We can help you, I'll take you to Dumbledore-" His fingers tightened and she felt the light touch turn instantly malicious as he pressed into her jugular. Her breath caught as she fought to keep her eyes on him. She wouldn't give into his tricks.
"And what makes you think I would want to do that?" He was dangerously close now, his breath brushing her lips and she felt charged with a strange sort of electricity, her heart racing.
"Because, you're not as bad as you pretend to be, Draco." She said his name quietly with firm emphasis, but he was focused on her lips.
The pressure on her neck lightened almost imperceptibly as his other hand came up to trace her bottom lip. She shivered hard as his thumb brushed against the sensitive skin there and he pulled it down ever so slightly.
"Such a waste." He muttered, almost ignoring her, and then she felt the hand on her neck slide back, his fingers possessively gripping the base of her head and tilting her up to meet him.
He drew closer still until he was a hair's breadth away from touching her, his hands the only point of contact between them.
She could barely stand it, he was so close, she fought against his hands to meet him, nothing mattered then except that she get a taste of what was so close to her but he was too strong, she couldn't breach the centimeters between them.
He was opulent in this light, his hair splayed across his face, the tendrils appearing baby soft and impossibly white. Her fingers ached to push them away from his face but she kept them clenched by her sides, unwilling to touch him, unsure if she wanted to stop him or encourage him.
He breathed over her, and then released all his pent up frustration as he slammed her against he wall, lifting her in one swift movement and grinding his hips into her.
She felt her vision sway at the sudden impact but his mouth was still just seconds away from hers, the air from his lips heating her own. She could see deeper into his charcoal eyes that ever before and they were a dizzyingly gunmetal gray turbulent with lust.
His hands were against her neck and while hers were still firmly at her side.
He was stagnate though, unwilling it seemed to cross the barrier between them. But, Hermione thought to herself, she was all about breaking down boundaries.
She placed her hands against the back of his head and wrapped her fingers into the luxurious waves of hair and then pulled him against her.