Disclaimer: The characters all belong to J.K. Rowling, the amazing author who came up with the fabulous Harry Potter series!
WARNING: The prologue contains mature content (rape/non-consensual sex), so please don't read it if you find it particularly offensive. It's a very touchy subject, but it's the catalyst for everything else that happens in this story, and I've tried to deal with it in a mature way, at least I hope. It's rated M for a reason, so please be aware of that.
Author's Note: This story is not completely DH compliant, but it does have DH spoilers, so be careful! It starts out in 2000, which makes the trio about 20 years old. So after the battle in DH, Voldemort is dead, but the Death Eater refused to surrender. At this point, the Death Eaters have taken over the Ministry, and Harry Potter is leading an underground army, the resistance. This isn't important at all, really, just some background.
- Prologue -
August 3, 2000
The crunch of bone hitting bone and the sound of whip against skin assaulted his ears as he descended the last few stairs, before his feet even hit the cold dungeon floor. As his eyes became accustomed to the darkness, he followed the trail of kerosene lamps that lined the damp walkway toward the source of the noise. He approached the last cell at the end of path, and as he neared, the sound of the whip ceased.
He stopped in the shadow of the dungeon, before he reached the cell, staying out of the line of sight. He heard the clank of the iron bars opening and closing, and not long after Gregory Goyle appeared in front of him.
"We've tried everything, she won't break."
"Don't be daft – everyone breaks."
"She just needs the right motivation."
Draco Malfoy stepped out from the shadow and surveyed the scene before him. She was sitting in the far corner, hugging her knees to her chest. She was donned in a sack-like makeshift gown all the prisoners were required to wear, and although it had at first been white, it had become a murky brown color after a series of beatings. Her skin was covered with a layer of dirt grime, and she was black and blue with bruises.
His gaze scorched her and she glanced up, and upon recognizing who it was, her eyes narrowed. She stood up and approached the metals bars that separated her from the blond-haired man, never relinquishing her fiery glare.
Goyle obeyed wordlessly and scurried along to the end of the dark hallway, up the winding stone staircase, his footsteps echoing in the distance until they faded into nothing.
He was taller than she had remembered from their days at Hogwarts. Still the same white-blond hair, the same grey eyes, and the same tall, lean build. But something was different – his eyes were more serious, and he carried himself differently now that he was no longer a boy. The spoiled demeanor of his school days had diminished when he became the head of the Malfoy household after Lucius's death, inheriting a fortune, and was replaced by an air of confident arrogance.
"What do you want?"
"Is that how you greet an old friend, Granger?"
He let himself into her cell, and locked it behind him.
"Goyle tells me you've been uncooperative."
"Sod off, Malfoy."
"You're not exactly in a position to make demands."
"I'm not going to tell you anything." She crossed her arms.
"I'm here to persuade you to change your mind."
"Don't waste your breath."
He hit her hard across the face with the back of his hand, sending her reeling across the cell.
She picked herself up without a flinch. "You don't scare me."
"You don't want me to."
He circled her.
"Right now Granger, you have two choices. One, you tell me where the headquarters for the resistance is and I let you die with some dignity. Or two, you keep up this ridiculous façade of bravery and you will die painfully, after I've retrieved the information I need through - " and here he paused, as if to choose his next words carefully, "alternative means."
She steeled herself. "Go to hell."
"Don't make this difficult, Granger."
She spat in his face.
He withdrew a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his cheek. When she looked at him again, his face was livid.
"If that's how you want it." He threw off his black coat, loosened his collar, and began to roll up his sleeves. "I'm going to squeeze every little secret out of you."
"I'm not scared of you," she said, raising her head defiantly.
"Oh, you're not, are you," he replied, closing in on her. "We'll have to do something about that, won't we, Granger?"
There was something in his eyes – something so terrifying she couldn't identify, and for the first time in five days, she was frightened. She backed away from him, and he closed in on her like a predator ready for the kill, and before she knew it, he had her pinned against the wall, his hands on the cold stone wall on either side of her head, trapping her.
He leaned in toward her pale face which was donned with an expression of determination and feigned courage, his lips against her ear, and he whispered, "Scared now, Granger?"
She didn't answer, but her bated breath told him all he needed to know.
"Or how about now?" he taunted, this time louder, as he reached under the gown and slid a hand up her inner thigh to where her legs met.
She fought back immediately, hitting him with her arms in an effort to escape his touch. But she was weak – she had not eaten since her capture nearly a week ago, so her efforts were largely in vain. "Don't touch me!"
He responded by tearing her knickers, and upon hearing the fabric rip and come away, she pushed against him with new resolve.
Her efforts were futile; he hiked her gown up to her navel, exposing her white flesh. She fought against him, trying to push him away with her arms, but her previous beating had taken a toll and all she had managed was to scratch him on his cheek. He pinned her thin wrists above her head with one strong arm, and hiked a knee between her legs, as his other hand fumbled with his trousers. Suddenly, she felt something hard rub against her stomach, and her whole body tensed with fear as the severity of the situation finally struck her. He used this moment of surprise to pry her legs open and hoist her up against the wall so that her feet could no longer touch the floor for support.
She wanted to sink into the wall, to escape his touch, to escape his rough hands that touched her in the most private areas of her body. His lips moved to her neck as he suckled his way down to her collarbone, and she fought hard not to cry. The hardness that had so frightened her earlier only became more and more apparent as she felt it against her inner thigh.
"Stop it, Malfoy, don't do this," she begged, fear evident in her voice.
In one swift move, he released her wrists, lifted her thighs up with his arms, and guided himself to her, letting gravity pull her onto him as he thrust up. At once, he felt something tear, but the next moment, he was enveloped inside her, so warm and so tight it was nearly painful for him. She cried out at the sudden intrusion, her whole body went rigid at the brutality of the assault, and her vision faded to black. The sharp, burning pain at the onslaught as something ripped was followed by the excruciating pain of stretching something inside her that had never been stretched to accommodate him. It was pain so hard that her legs went numb, and her eyes overflowed with tears, hurting in places she never knew could hurt.
He had felt that familiar tug when he first entered her, and he knew exactly what it had meant, and he briefly was reminded of Pansy's first time. He had been gentle that night, whispering words of endearment as he moved within her, careful not to hurt her. But this wasn't about love – it was about control, carefully calculated to achieve the desired effect, a means to an end.
"Stop it," she cried frantically, as she pushed her arms against his chest. "Stop it, please."
He pulled out of her slowly, as her unpracticed muscles gripped him so that it was almost painful as he withdrew, so that only the tip of the head remained inside her. For a moment, she thought that perhaps it was all over, that he would let her go. The next moment he was buried inside of her again, and she was hit with a fresh wave of pain. He groaned, savoring the warmth her inner core provided as it clenched around him. As the sensation took over his mind, he pulled out of her, and thrust back with reckless abandon, bruising her against the hard stone wall. She collapsed against him, her whole body wracked with pain, sobbing uncontrollably as he moved within her, the friction like sandpaper. Eventually she learned that if she stopped fighting against him, it would hurt less. Wrapping her legs around him, and supporting her arms on his shoulders, she could reduce the force of gravity that impaled her onto him, making each thrust more bearable.
As the minutes ebbed away, his thrusts became quicker and more erratic, until he plunged in one last time and tensed. As he finished, hot jets of his release burned her from the inside out, and she bit her lip to stop from crying out. The otherwise quiet night was filled the sounds of his heavy breathing and her sobs, and they stayed for a moment like this, her arms still wrapped around him, his head in the nook of her shoulder, feeling her body tremble against his. When he finally released her, she collapsed onto the dungeon floor.
The pain had now ebbed into a terrible soreness that throbbed deep inside her. She felt a wetness between her thighs, which she knew was her own blood mingled with his contributions, and a wave of nausea assaulted her. With her body shaking and convulsing, she clutched her stomach and retched onto the blood and grime-coated dungeon ground, wracked with sobs as the white acid of her stomach mingled with red.
Somewhere above her, she heard a "Scourgify!" and the sound of a zipper being pulled up. And then –
"Are you ready to talk, Granger?"
His words were met with quiet sobs.
When she didn't answer again and refused to meet his eyes, he knelt down beside her, grabbed her chin roughly between his hand and turned her eyes to him. Her eyes were red, and spoke of humiliation and defeat, and her face was smeared with grime and tears.
"We have all the time in the world, Granger," he whispered, his face edging towards hers. "Are you going to talk, or shall we try again?"
She tried to speak, but no words would come to her. He took her silence as impudence and pulled her roughly towards him, splaying her carelessly onto her back with her brown curly in wild disarray. He pried her legs open once again, and nestled himself in between.
"Stop it, stop it!" She cried hoarsely as her voice finally returned to her. "Don't, please, don't."
She heard the sound of a zipper again, and swung her arms at him, trying to escape from his touch. As his hands were busy trying to free himself from the constraints of his trousers, she managed for a brief moment to turn herself onto her stomach and attempted to crawl out from underneath him. But the next moment, he grasped her legs, flipped her onto her back again, and dragged her to him, hitting her face hard so that she lost consciousness for a few seconds.
Her vision went black. When she came to again, moments later, his visage loomed over her.
"Granger, darling, why do you do this to yourself?" He made the term of endearment sound so filthy.
"Please - please don't."
Her grabbed her hips and in one swift move, he was buried inside her again, somewhat easier than the last time because of his previous contributions that had provided the needed lubrication. She gasped in pain and tried to push him away.
Those simple two words caught him by surprise and he turned his gaze on her eyes, which were filled with fear and desperation and something else he couldn't name. For a fleeting moment, his expression softened as he lost his composure, but it passed quickly and he responded to this moment of weakness by pulling out and thrusting roughly back into her.
"You know, Granger, I'm beginning to think you like this."
He felt her writhe beneath him and quickened his pace. She pushed her arms against him,
but her efforts were futile, and all she could do was cry.
"Stop it, no, stop it, please…stop it…please…I'll tell you everything."
August 4, 2000
"Ron…Ron…" she muttered as her eyelids fluttered. "Ron…"
"You're safe now." A gentle hand caressed her cheek.
The deep masculine voice jolted every fiber in her body and her eyes snapped open in primal fear as she made a move to shield herself.
"Stop it! Get away from me, leave me alone!" she cried fearfully, swinging her arms against the intruder before she had a chance to survey her surroundings.
"It's me, Hermione, it's me Harry," he said, as he tried to restrain her. "It's all right, it's Harry. Hermione Granger, it's me – Harry – Harry Potter."
Her movements ceased, and breathing heavily, she peered anxiously at him, as if trying to recognize his features. When she realized that it was indeed her best friend, she moved her eyes around the room, and saw that it was Ginny's room at the Burrow. Her features softened and the fear in her eyes began to settle into disbelief and then shame. She couldn't let them know what had happened to her – what she'd done.
"You're safe now, Hermione, it's over," Harry reassured as he reached out a hand to stroke her arm. "Ginny's running you a warm bath and -"
"Don't touch me!" she cried instinctively, drawing her arm away from his touch. Seeing the expression of bewilderment on his face, she was wracked by guilt. She shook her head remorsefully. "I'm – I'm sorry. I don't know what – what got into me. Just don't - don't touch – I – I feel dirty."
"It's okay, Hermione," he repeated. "How about that warm bath, then?"
"Yeah…" she said quietly, nodding. "Yeah…that would be good."
"Can – can I – carry you over?" he asked hesitantly, in light of her reaction the first time he had tried to touch her. "I don't think you're strong enough to walk all the way over there."
She had an instinct to say no, but caught herself before the words came out. She swallowed, and forced a brave smile. "Yeah…yeah, thank you."
He lifted the blanket off of her, exposing her bruised body donned in the same dirty small smock she had been wearing when they rescued her, and she tried to cover herself with her arms to hide her injuries. When he had found her lying unconscious in the cold dungeon just a few hours earlier, he had been so hurried to get her out of there and return to the Burrow that he had hardly noticed the state of her injuries.
Her skin was layered with dirt and grime, almost hiding the black and blue bruises underneath. She was thinner, much too thin, than the last time he had seen her, and he realized the extent of the toll her body had taken in its five days of captivity. He tucked one arm under her knees and the other under her shoulders and lifted her off of the bed, careful not to damage her fragile body. He noticed the way she flinched at his touch and the caked blood on the hem of the gown and along her thighs did not escape his gaze.
"I'm sorry," she began, trying to keep from sobbing, "I told them - I told them everything."
Harry squeezed her against him. "It doesn't matter, Hermione. What matters is that you're safe. Whatever happens from now on, it's all right, because you're here and safe and alive, and we can fight it, we can fight back no matter what they do."
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry, Harry, I'm so sorry," she repeated over and over again.
"No, no, Hermione," he hushed as his eyes glistened, "I'm the one who should be sorry, I should have gotten you out of there sooner. I shouldn't have let anything happen to you."
Harry carried her out of Ginny's room, turning to slide out of the doorway. Hermione pressed her face against his chest, and he felt her hot tears through the fabric of his shirt.
"Shhhh…it's okay now," he whispered.
Suddenly, she tensed in his arms.
"Where's Ron?" she asked feverishly. "Is he okay? I don't – I don't want him to know – I don't want him to see me like this…don't let him see me…please, don't…"
Harry paused and swallowed the lump in his throat. "It's all right, Hermione. Ron - " he paused to collect himself "– Ron's not here. Don't worry, we'll sort everything else out after you're all cleaned up."
Ginny was sitting on the side of the bathtub, testing the temperature of the water with her hands, but as soon as they entered, she jumped to her feet towards them.
"Hermione! Oh, sweetheart, you're finally awake, you slept for nearly a whole day, and we were so worried that - " her voice trailed off. "Let's get you in the bath."
Harry set Hermione's feet on the ground and steadied her, making sure her legs were strong enough to support her weight. Ginny lent her arm to Hermione for support.
"I'll be back to see you after you're cleaned up and comfortable," Harry said. He took one more concerned look at his friend, and turned to leave. He patted Ginny on the arm. "Take good care of her, Ginny."
Ginny nodded. "Don't worry."
When the door shut behind him, Ginny turned to Hermione, who was clutching her arms to her chest.
"Let me help you take those off," she said, moving her hands to the hem of Hermione's soiled garment.
Hermione shied away from her. "No…no, I don't want you to see."
"It's okay, Hermione, I just going to help you," she said tenderly. "I'm not going to hurt you, I promise."
Hermione sniffed, and then hesitantly nodded her head. Ginny helped her lift the garment over her head and discarded it on the floor. As the soiled cloth came up, it revealed the full extent of Hermione's injuries, and she made a move to cover herself.
Ginny inhaled sharply as she surveyed her friend's damage, and she couldn't help but turn her eyes away, needing a moment to compose herself. "Well, I suppose the important thing is that you're alive."
She held Hermione's arm as she stepped into the tub, unaware that every step - every movement – was painful, and steadied her as she sat down, letting the warm water relax her sore muscles. Seeing Hermione's current state, Ginny closed her eyes and tried not to cry.
"I'm all right, Ginny, I really am," she said, putting on a brave front. "I just need to get washed up a bit, that's all. Don't worry about me."
"You're in terrible shape, Hermione," Ginny said, aghast. "Who did all this? What happened, Hermione? Oh, God, what did they do?"
"I'm fine," Hermione lied, her voice growing stronger now, more as an attempt to convince herself than Ginny. "See? No broken bones. And the bruises will go away."
Ginny handed her a bar of soap. "After you wash up, you could do with a good meal. You look like you've been starved."
Hermione nodded to satisfy Ginny, although she had no appetite, and doubted she would be able to force down anything.
"Which reminds me, I've got to take out the meatloaf, will you be all right for a moment?"
"I'll - be - just - fine, Ginny, go check the meatloaf, I don't want to be eating a burnt supper," Hermione joked with a forced smile, trying to lighten up the tone. She preferred to be alone anyway.
Ginny looked unsure, but nodded nonetheless. "I'll be right back, I promise."
She hurried out of the bathroom and made her way down two flights of rickety stairs into the kitchen where a group of weary wizards and witches were having a solemn conversation, with maps scattered all over the large dining room table. She made her way over to the oven when she noticed that the meatloaf was already out and sitting on the countertop.
"How is she?" asked Neville Longbottom after a long silence.
"Well, she's shocked, and hurt," Ginny began, "but that's all to be expected. After the bruises fade and the cuts heal, I'm sure she'll be all right."
As the room erupted in smiles and laughs of relief, and conversation was restored, Harry gave her a strange look, and when she didn't respond to him, he stood up from the table, took her arm, and led her out of earshot of the entire group.
"Did you tell her about Ron?" he asked quietly, knowing it was going to be a sensitive subject for his young wife.
He was right; Ginny's eyes clouded at the thought of her dead brother. "No…I – I didn't want to – not until she's better, until she's healed a bit…I don't think…she can handle too much more…right now."
"Ginny," he began cautiously, unsure of how to broach the subject, "I don't think she's going to be all right for a long time."
"What do you mean?" she said. "Yes, well I'm pretty sure they tortured the hell out of her, the injuries can speak for themselves, but give her a few days, she's strong - "
"Listen, think about it. What if it's not just about the beating and the torture…what about - " he paused uncomfortably, trying to find the right words. "What do you think is the worst thing that could ever happen to a woman?"
"What?" Ginny said. "What do you mean? What - " and then it dawned on her, "No."
Harry looked away, averting her eyes, and nodded.
"No!" Ginny repeated. "No, no, no, oh, God, I can't believe it – I won't. What makes you think - ?"
"Intuition…you know the way she acts, her demeanor…"
"Oh, God, I've got to make sure she's all right," Ginny said hurriedly. "I've left her all by herself…I don't even know what to do, Harry, what am I supposed to do? Or say?"
Harry shook his head. "I don't know, Ginny, I don't know."
"Oh, God, I've got to make sure she's all right," Ginny said, as she brushed past him and hurried up the stairs, her legs carrying her as fast as she could go. When she reached the bathroom, she paused outside the door, trying to think of something to say. When nothing came to mind, she knocked and said, "Hermione, it's me, Ginny, I'm coming in."
She turned the knob and pushed, the door creaking open to reveal a frenzied Hermione, a wash brush in hand scrubbing frantically over her body, skin raw and red.
"Hermione!" Ginny cried, rushing to her side. "Hermione! Let go, you're scrubbing your skin off, Hermione!"
"I can't get it off – I can't – oh God, Ginny – why can't I get it off," she choked hysterically, as she scrubbed the brush frantically over her red, raw skin. "It won't come off – it – it- it won't- come off - "
"It's okay, Hermione. You're safe now," Ginny said, trying to grab the coarse brush from her hands. "Let me take the brush, Hermione, you can use the sponge instead."
Hermione shook her head in a craze, her breaths quick and shallow. "I can't get it off – I can't get him off, Ginny. I can't – I can't – it won't come off!"
"Hermione, let me help you, I want to help you, but you have to trust me," she said gently.
"I have to get it off me, Ginny, why won't it come off?" She broke into a hysteric fit of sobs, dropping the brush from her shaking hand, letting it sink into the bathwater. She buried her face in her hands as her body shook, rippling the bathwater.
Kneeling by the side of the tub, Ginny reached over and held Hermione's head against her bosom, tenderly brushing her wet hair to the side of her face.
"It's okay to cry, Hermione. You're allowed to cry."
April 17, 2001
"Do you want to see him?"
Ginny Potter shut the door behind her, drowning out the loud crying in the hallway beyond, and slowly approached her best friend's bedside.
She was sitting upright in the bed, her brown curls in a disheveled mess around her pale face, and her eyes were distant. She turned her eyes toward the window, watching the curtains flutter against the gentle night breeze and swallowed the sudden lump in her throat.
Ginny nodded, and sunk down on the bed next to her best friend, who looked away from the window.
"No," Hermione said blankly, staring down, clutching the soft cotton blanket she was nestled in.
"It's okay, Hermione," Ginny reassured, grasping the brunette's hand in her own.
"I can't, Ginny, I can't," She choked, shaking her head and averting her gaze. "I can't, Ginny, I just can't."
Ginny clasped her hand in between her own. "Do you want me to bring him - "
"No!" Hermione said frantically. "I – I can't."
Ginny nodded in understanding.
"I'm - I'm afraid that if I see him -" she swallowed hard – "I'll love him."
The tears she had been so determined to blink back poured out from the corner of her eyes, staining the quilted blanket.
"Oh, Hermione," Ginny implored, "there's nothing wrong with love."
She closed her eyes and tried to steady her breathing. "At least now, I could tell myself that I don't want him – that I hate him…but if I saw him…I wouldn't be able to let him go because I would know I loved him…And if…if I loved him, I would hate myself, Ginny. I would hate myself for loving a part of him."
She fumbled with the hem of the blanket, trying to distance her thoughts.
"And at the same time, I'm scared that I can't love him – love him as much as he deserves, because every time I see him, I would – I would – see him – somewhere in there. And he – he deserves someone better – someone better to love him. He deserves more than me, doesn't he?"
There was a knock on the door and the sound of faint crying behind it. Hermione grasped Ginny's hand in fear, and drew her breath in a loud hiccup.
When Hermione did nothing to object, Ginny cleared her throat and said, "Come in."
As soon as the door opened, loud wails trailed into the room. A worn and weary Harry Potter appeared in the door frame, holding a small bundle tenderly in his arms. Hermione turned away as her body became racked by sobs.
Harry approached the two women silently, and passed the crying bundle to Ginny, who tried to hush the infant, to no avail.
"Stop the crying." Hermione covered her ears, trying to drown out the child, to deny its existence.
"No - !"
Ginny offered the crying infant to Hermione who, slowly and reluctantly, took him into her arms with her eyes averted. Steeling herself she pulled aside the soft blanket to see his face. His crying lulled, and he stared up at her with open eyes.
"Isn't he beautiful?" Harry whispered, kneeling down by her bedside, one arm around his wife, Ginny.
"He's…he's so small," Hermione sniffed. She ran her finger softly through his tuft of light hair and traced the curves of his face. "He's so perfect. How can he be so perfect?" She was assaulted with another flood of tears. "God, he's my son. Is he really mine?"
Ginny smiled gently.
"What if – what if I can't love him the way he deserves? No, I can't keep him. He deserves better."
"What he deserves is his mother's love," Ginny said. "He needs you."
"What if he's – he's a monster, just like - " Hermione choked. "He's half – half – of him - oh God, what if he's a monster? What have I done?"
"Not if you raise him – raise him with love, Hermione," Ginny implored. "He needs you. You've come this far, you can't abandon him now."
"Tom Riddle was raised in an orphanage, and look what that did to him," Harry added. "If his mum had loved him – well you know what I mean."
Hermione turned her gaze to the window again, looking into the distance. "When – when I found out – you know, found out that he was coming, all of you asked me why I didn't just – just terminate him. And I told myself it was because he was alive, and he couldn't choose how he was made, and I couldn't justify ending one act of violence with another. And if I'd killed this baby, I would be no better than - " she could not say his name, "I couldn't sink to his level because that would mean he had won. But – I was foolish – because I thought that it would be so easy to – to just give him to someone else, because I would hate him – and it would be so easy – but, God, I was so wrong."
Harry put a comforting hand on her shoulder.
"I love him, God, I love him, and I hate myself for loving him because he's a constant reminder that – and I tried, Ginny, I tried to tell myself to hate him, and I tried so hard I almost believed it. And now, I can't let him go. Why, Ginny, why?"
She looked down again at the infant in her arms, mesmerized by his bright wide eyes as his small hand wrapped around her finger.
"Why did he have to be so perfect?" She said. "So perfect, in this – this terrible, turbulent time. I want to keep him safe from it all."
"We've won the war, Hermione. He's going to grow up in a beautiful world."
A/N: Or so they think…! Yes, I realize that the normal gestation period is nine months, but oftentimes people give birth early, and this is one of those cases. So the gist is that by 2001, Harry Potter has defeated the Death Eaters, and the Ministry is back in good hands, but the Death Eaters are still out there waiting for the right moment to strike. Stay tuned for the next chapter which will pick up several years in the future! Leave a review! Thanks!