The cellar door was thrown open and Hermione stared down the dark set of stone stairs. She squeezed her eyes closed, the sight had filled her with fright and dread unlike she'd ever known. The tight grip on her arm forcefully urged her forward. She glared at the hooded man. She always thought that the Death Eaters' masks were silly and childish, reminding her of the Muggles that dressed up for Halloween, but now they seemed anything but silly. To not see the faces of the men that had captured her was intimidating and unnerving. She wanted to see their eyes. Her gaze turned to the wand in his right hand. She longed for her own wand but any would certainly do. She pulled at the rope that bound her wrists. She knew her efforts were futile but she had to keep trying. She looked again at the stairs leading to the Malfoys' cellar, knowing full well that it might be that last place she'd ever see.
The hand on her arm tightened with impatience and shoved her forward. Hermione gasped and stumbled down the first few stairs. She blew out a shaky breath as she managed to regain her balance.
"Hurry up, bitch," the rough voice growled. Hermione yelped with surprise as a blow to her back threw her to the bottom of the staircase. A sharp pain shot through her body as her head connected with the cold stone floor. She peered through half-lidded eyes as the cellar doors closed, throwing her into complete darkness. She whimpered softly as the pain slowly began to subside.
Minutes passed as she lay there, unable to find the will to move. She leaned to the side, finally pushing herself into a sitting position. She regretted it immediately as the throbbing in her head increased in her vertical position. She pushed her back against the wall. Hermione stared through the darkness. Her eyes had adjusted to the lack of light and she could make out basic shadows although the only shadows she saw were of herself and the stairs. The room was empty, not only of people but of anything. She was surrounded only by cold stone walls. The air around her was cool and dry. Her nose wrinkled a little as the room smelled sourly stale.
Hermione twisted the rope binding her wrists, pulling as much slack as she could between them. The rope squeezed tight around her wrists as the space between them stretched a few inches. With much struggling, Hermione managed to slip her arms under her bottom and down her legs, bringing her hands to the front of her body. Hermione took a deep steadying breath and brought the rope to her mouth, gnawing through the threads like a rat. It took a little more than an hour before her hands broke loose.
It was only after her hands were free that she allowed herself to feel anything and her body wracked with sobs. She closed her eyes and her mind wandered to her friends, wondering where they were at that very moment. They had escaped capture and she was certain they were safe. Perhaps they went to Shell Cottage, or maybe Aunt Muriel's. She wondered if they knew yet that she'd been captured. They were probably waiting for her, thinking she had Apparated somewhere else. They would wait, afraid to miss her if they left. But in truth, they wouldn't know where to look if they wanted to. The snatchers had come upon them so quickly. Harry simply spoke his name, the taboo. Ron tried to stop him, but it was too late. The snatchers were there and their defenses were down. She saw her friends Apparate to safety and was about to do so herself when a well aimed spell pulled her wand from her hand. It didn't take long for them to recognize her; her picture was all over the papers. She envisioned again the sight of her friends disappearing. Never before had she been separated from them like this. They would know soon. They were already worried that she might be captured, of that she was sure. She could see Ron sitting with his head in his hands, tugging at his hair in silent anger and concern, while Harry would be pacing quickly, fuming at the world and himself with agonizing guilt. The Order of the Phoenix would be informed, if that hadn't been already, but it would do no good. The Order had been trying for months to discover the location of the Death Eaters' headquarters. They would never storm the Malfoys' house without evidence that she was there.
True despair washed over her and her tears fell faster. It all felt hopeless. Torture was inevitable and death extremely possible, while chance of rescue looked bleak. Her body shook with heavy sobs and she slowly lowered herself into a laying position. Eventually her cry weakened, her body exhausted by her grief, and she fell asleep.