She bit her lip until it bled, the metallic, coppery taste filling her mouth. They threw her down on the cold, rough stone floor, scraping her bare skin raw in places. She wouldn't allow herself to cry out. She couldn't give them the satisfaction. Mentally, she told herself not to show any fear. If she showed her fear then she wouldn't have a chance. She had to be strong. She had to be brave. She hadn't said a word since they'd taken her from King's Crossing, hours (days?) ago. She had tried to keep her fear at bay when they had captured her and blindfolded her. She'd tried to fight and they'd knocked her out with a spell. She'd woken up here, in the dark chamber, the only light a few flickering torches set at intervals around the walls and a group of masked Death Eaters surrounding her. She'd stood up proudly even though they had taken her clothes and she was nude. It had taken all of her courage not to collapse in tears of embarrassment at the cat calls and the whistles. Then she had turned to face the Dark Lord, Voldemort. He was heavily cloaked and she couldn't see his face, but she could feel his eyes on her and she was scared, so scared. Lucius Malfoy, one of the few Death Eaters not wearing a mask, had knocked her to the ground with a spell. There she was, trying to be brave in the midst of her worst fears coming true.
Hermione Granger took a deep, calming breath and stood up, she wasn't going to cower on the floor like some whipped dog. Fear rolled around in her stomach and she wanted to vomit but she didn't. Lucius stepped forward, his face twisted in a malicious smirk so much like the one his son Draco had worn for their seven years together at Hogwarts.
"Well, well , well, I would like to introduce you all to our... guest," he said addressing the conclave of Death Eaters.
"Miss Hermione Granger, best friend to Harry Potter and smartest witch to graduate from Hogwarts in over a century. Hmm ... quite a catch. Now, I'm sure Miss Granger here would like to make this as easy as possible for herself. So, when I ask her a question she will answer." He turned to her, his pale, cold eyes challenging her and she refused to give in and look away.
"Now Miss Granger, I'm sure you want this over with as soon as possible so we'll skip the niceties. Where are the Head Quarters to the Order of the Phoenix located?" his voice was soft, silky, deadly.
"What is the Order of the Phoenix?" she asked proud of the fact that her voice wasn't trembling.
"Don't play dumb with me, girl," he growled, a dangerous glimmer in his eyes.
"As you said, I am the smartest student to graduate from Hogwarts in over a century, I don't play dumb," she said lightly.
He laughed and she had to stop herself from visibly cringing.
"You are a smart girl," he conceded, "so smart in fact that I think you'll know which one of these options would be in your best interest. Number one," he held up a finger, "you tell us everything you know about the Order and we let you go. Number two, you don't tell us and we torture you until you talk and if we're feeling generous we'll let you go," this got a hearty laugh from the other Death Eaters. "Option number three tell us what we want to know and we might let you join us."
Hermione bitterly smiled, "As I understand it I have two options, I talk and you kill me, or I don't talk and you kill me, I think I'll choose the latter." Her hands were shaking, her whole body was shaking. She hoped that they couldn't see her fear.
A coldness enveloped her as she spoke the words and the reality of everything hit her full force, she wasn't leaving this chamber alive. There was no Ron, no Harry, no Dumbledore who would swoop down and save her. She was by herself and she was going to die. She wanted to accept it, to make peace with the fact that she was eighteen and she was going to die a very painful death but it was beyond her to comprehend. This couldn't be the end, it just couldn't.
"Foolish girl," Lucius said without emotion. He turned to Voldemort and Hermione watched as the dark lord lifted a scaly hand as if to tell Malfoy to begin. Lucius smiled cruelly and then pointed a wand... her wand... straight at her.
"Crucio," he muttered.
All of a sudden it felt like the wind had been knocked out of her. Seconds later it felt like her body was being burned alive. She couldn't move. It hurt. It hurt. It HURT! She didn't feel the jarring impact of her knees hitting the stone floor or her nails breaking and tearing as she clawed at the stone in agony. It felt like her mind was trying to rip away from her body and escape its prison of anguish. She thought her heart was going to burst out of her chest and just when she thought that the pain would kill her it suddenly stopped. She gasped, taking in great lung fulls of air. She swallowed a mouthful of blood from where she'd bit her lip, but she hadn't uttered a word the whole time.
'I'm a Gryffindor,' she repeated to herself over and over again like a soothing chant.
She stumbled to her feet, now clearly feeling the pain of her hands and knees. She knew that it was insignificant compared to what lay ahead.
"I ask you again, Mudblood, where is the Order located?"
"All right, I'll tell you," she said quietly.
"Yes?" he asked impatiently, excitement shining in his eyes.
"A big mansion," she stopped, hesitating, baiting him.
"Yes, yes, go on," he said his eyes greedily waiting for her information.
"It's very beautiful, it's called..."
"What is it called?" he asked sharply.
She looked up at him, "Malfoy Manner," she said wearily.
The pain hit her again and she dropped to her knees and it was impossible to keep a moan from escaping and tears from falling down her cheeks. She put her fist in her mouth, biting down hard, trying to form a coherent thought. It went on and on. The questioning, the false answers, and then the crucio over and over and over again until her screams filled the chamber and her throat was raw and she lay curled on the floor sobbing.
Lucius threw the wand down on the floor and she looked at it, knowing that even if she could make herself crawl to it she would never get to it before he saw her. She hurt so much now, it was hard to differentiate between when the crucio was being cast and when it wasn't. She watched Malfoy converse with Voldemort in low tones but she was too far away to hear what they were saying. She wondered if they would finally kill her. She couldn't take much more. She didn't want to go mad like Neville's parents, to be put into St. Mungos and not even know who she was.
Rough hands grabbed her arms and lifted her up and she cried out, her flesh was tender and she wanted to scream a new at the pain. It felt like her skin was being torn off. She was dragged forward and she wished that she would just pass out but she didn't.
"Take her to one of the cells," Lucius said waving a hand in the opposite direction.
As she was lead through the crowd of Death Eaters they pinched her and hit her and laughed at her. She wanted to scream and kick and curse them but she didn't have the strength. She was thrown into a small cell and as she hit the floor everything finally went blissfully black.
She woke up, aching for something to drink, to soothe her burning, swollen, throat. It was dark and cold and it smelled like mildew. She couldn't see or hear anything. She knew she wasn't dead. She hurt too much to be dead. She didn't know how long she sat there, shivering, crying. After awhile she began reciting the properties for certain plants she had learned in Herbology. When she couldn't think of anything else she started reciting potions recipes, starting with the ones she had learned in her first year. She had gotten all of the way to her fourth year and was reciting the procedure to the draught of the living dead when she heard footsteps. A rectangle of light filled the room and she blinked, trying to let her eyes adjust. She heard the barred door swing open and she was taken back into the circular chamber.
At the thought of what she was going to have to endure she broke out in sobs. She couldn't do this. She just wanted this nightmare to end. She was dropped unceremoniously at the center of the room and once again Lucius was holding her wand and standing next to Voldemort but they were the only ones in the room this time.
"Tell me what I want to know and I'll make your death quick and painless."
Hermione squeezed her eyes shut and her tears fell as she thought about Harry and Ron, Ginny and the rest of the Weasleys who were like her family. About Lupin, Tonks, McGonagall, and all of the others. She would never tell. Could never tell, not when the lives of the people she loved, who cared about her, were at stake. If she told them and they let her live, there was no life for her without all of those people. If they killed her and her friends lived... then all of the pain she was feeling wasn't in vain.
"No," it took all of her strength to utter that one word and she felt the pain tear through her body and it was so much worse than what she had felt before. She thrashed on the ground, her mouth open in a silent scream. It felt like the pain was destroying her body and ripping her mind to shreds. She couldn't breath and her hands clawed at her throat and she felt something around her neck. When the pain stopped she looked down and saw a small pendant hanging from a golden chain. Mr and Mrs Weasley had given it to her as a graduation gif. The pendant was a small replica of the Gryffindor Crest and she wondered why she hadn't noticed it sooner. She clung to it as Lucius cast the crucio again and the pain tore into her body time after time.
She wanted to scream the location until the pain stopped but she held on and the pain stopped and then started again. She didn't have the strength to do anything but lay there, still and silent, while she wondered if it would ever end, if she could ever have peace.
"Where is it?" Lucius was very close and she could feel his breath on her check. She didn't say anything and she gasped as he kicked her in the stomach. The pain was nothing compared to the crucio. He pulled her hair and slapped her, trying to get her to talk but she ignored him. She just wanted to go to sleep, to wake up in a place where it didn't hurt all over. Where she wasn't in agony. Suddenly, she felt him on top of her and she opened her eyes in time to see him pull up his robe. It took a moment for the coherent part of her mind to register that he was going to rape her.
She tried to move, to kick, to bite, to hit him, anything to make him stop. Her body felt made out of lead and there was laughter. Not Lucius but Voldemort, it was a high, shrill sound and it seemed to freeze her insides.
"Stop, no, stop!" She tired to struggle but he didn't stop, she was too weak to fight anymore. She let her mind drift away from what was happening, she wasn't Hermione anymore. She was empty and nothing mattered, she'd been laying there forever, decades, centuries, time didn't matter, there was nothing left.
"We've broken her mind, her body, and her spirit, it should be easy to find out what we want to know from her now, bring her here," came a voice from the darkness.
She was pulled up and dragged toward the voice. Her mind was broken? ... no she had to think, something wasn't right. From the part of her mind that was still sane there was a far off memory that came back to her. In a moment of clarity she knew what was going to happen. Voldemort was going to use legilimancy against her. He was going to sort through her memories until he found out exactly what he wanted to know. All of it had been for nothing. All of the pain she had endured, the torture... all for nothing because he was going to find out everything anyway and there was nothing she could do about it.
They had all been taught a little occulmancy last year but she was too weak to stop him, it didn't matter. Thoughts of Harry and Ron flooded through her, her best friends, the two people that she loved and trusted more than anyone. Voldemort would find out everything about them from her memories. He would know where the Order's Headquarters were and who was in the Order. She wouldn't let him take her memories. She was in front of Voldemort now, she could smell him. He smelled like death. She felt his eyes boring into her. She couldn't look him in the eyes or he would use legilimancy. She felt her eyes being drawn to his...
'No!' she mentally screamed. She dug into her memories frantically trying to hide them, to forget, to keep him from them. 'No, no, no, no, no!'
Suddenly a silver light filled the room and she heard him scream, and she smiled. He hadn't gotten the memories. She could sleep now. She was floating and her last coherent thought was that she must be dead.