Chapter 10 – The Bargain

"Now that I find hard to believe," Severus snorted. "You were never capable of doing anything on your own. You were always at the mercy of someone else." Severus spoke in a tone that filled the room with his utter hatred for Malfoy.

At this point Hermione sincerely hoped that Severus wasn't digging them further into a hole that already seemed impossible to get out of. At the same time, she trusted him and his judgment of the situation enough to sit back (figuratively speaking) and wait for him to give her a sign of taking care of things. Relying on another person was hard for her since she was used to doingmost everything by herself. Plus,the risk included her life!

Smirking, Lucius clapped his hand on Severus' shoulder "Come now, Severus! Let's not let hostility get the better of us."

Brushing his hand away, Severus retorted, anger rising with every syllable, "Hostility? Hostility! What about this situation isn't hostile?"

Malfoy smiled as he continued to walk around the room; still looking pensive. Meanwhile, off in the corner, Bellatrix was growing more and more impatient and she could contain herself no longer.

"Get on with it, Lucius!" she spat.

"Excuse me Bella?" Malfoy questioned, approaching her and prodding his wand roughly into the nape of her neck. When a whimper of pain escaped her lips he withdrew his wand and began to speak, addressing Draco and Pansy.

"You two, please go and drop the young one back at her dormitory. Report back within an hour because we will be returning through the painting soon after."

Nodding in acquiescence, the three vacated the room. Without their foot shuffling and mumbling (showing their lack of interest in the situation), the room seemed awkwardly silent.

"As for you two, Bellatrix and Fenrir," Lucius began again, "you will be staying in here with Granger, making sure that everything stays safe and sound, or at least sound. Severus and I will go to his office to discuss a business proposition."

After the 'safe and sound' comment, Hermione was even more distressed than before. Especially since Severus would be leaving the room and it would just be her and the two cruel monsters.

Then, her eyes connected with Severus'. He conveyed an it-will-be-alright message, to which she nodded meekly in response just before he left the room.

Hermione discovered that her vocal capabilities were restored when sobs of pain escaped her as Greyback and Lestrange took turns scratching, kicking and hitting her. In one sense, they were going easy on her because she knew what the full blunt of their capabilities could be; but still, for a woman of her small frame, those blows to her body hurt.

"Come on you filthy little Mudblood" Bellatrix's words were broken as she stopped to pull Hermione's head back by her hair"Cry for me."

"Never. Never because of you" Hermione took advantage of their close proximity and spat in her face, causing Bellatrix to release Hermione's hair.

Greyback swiftly extended a long arm out and ripped his over-grown, claw-like nails through her robes, tearing into her clothing and skin.

She dropped immediately to the floor, the rush of pain causing her to become light-headed and sick to her stomach. In the background she could faintly make out the sound of Bellatrix cackling wildly and Greyback making an odd sounding growl-like laugh. Stars flew before her eyes as she tried to make sense of what just happened. She was losingblood fast, causing her to fade in and out of consciousness until eventually everything faded into darkness.

Meanwhile, Lucius was proposing a way for Snape and Hermione to get out of their current predicament, to say the least.

"I'm going to be frank here Severus, since I see no point in lingering and forming it into anything more dramatic than necessary."

He stopped pacing behind Severus' desk and sat down with an air of wanting to get down to business.

"It's high time that the wizarding community as a whole gets over their naiveidea of the Dark Lord being diminished forever. What was that look, Snape? Disbelief? Oh yes my friend, we have found a way to bring him back; back to restore the awesome power which rightfully belongs to him. I would think that you of all people would know that when it comes to the Dark Lord, there is more than just a Plan A. He has had those of his servants who were unconditionally faithful to him prepared to resurrect him for years if the need be. Well my friend, the time has come."

"This is the thing that always bothered me about you Death Eaters. You see yourselves as being so important to the Dark Lord, as being there to fulfill some prophecy of his 'greatness'. What physical and mental scars has working under him left you with? He only causes more devastation than redemption for his followers. Those who don't end up in Azkaban end up lifeless inbreeds. I see the truth now, and it lies far away from what Voldemort ever stood for."

At the sound of his master's name being used, Lucius reached across the desk and grabbed the neck of Severus' robes tautly, "You listen here, Snape. I came here tonight fully prepared to come to an agreement with you. I vowed to myself to act civilized, regardless of speaking to a person who doesn't deserve my kindness. However, I refuse to tolerate hearing the sound of the Dark Lord's name on such dishonorable lips."

Letting go of Severus, Malfoy rubbed the wrinkles out of his own robes and took his seat once more. Snape was outraged at his treatment but soon remembered Hermione in the other room, most likely being tortured by those devils. Deciding it would better benefit him to find out what Lucius wanted and go make sure she was okay, he grudgingly let it go.

"Yes?" Severus questioned sarcasm was almost tangible.

"In order to restore the Dark Lord's life, we have to make a sacrifice. Not just any sacrifice, however. It must be the life of the one who killed the Dark Lord," Lucius waited for some sort of response from Snape who just sat there nonchalantly. He continued, "We need you to get us Harry Potter."

"And what about this situation is advantageous to me?" Severus asked, realizing how Muggle-movie cliché the conversation sounded, but unwilling to back down against the power that Malfoy believed himself to have.

"We will be taking the Mudblood with us. If you bring us the boy, we will return the girl. The longer you wait to take care of things, the more time Bella or Fenrir have with her."