Disclaimer: If I owned Harry Potter this wouldn't be fanfic, would it?
Chapter 1: Meek
"Finally regretting our bravery, are we?"
I am going to die. He killed Ron. I am going to die.
The sky was losing its velvet – a bloody sunrise was bathing the grounds of Hogwarts in red.
"You could at least acknowledge your murderer, after all the trouble I went through to disarm you so...effectively..."
Hermione looked up at her enemy. He was regarding her with one eyebrow raised, his haughty features bored and relaxed. It was as though she were merely a chore he wanted to finish. She could feel her vitals slowing down – life was leaving her body. She couldn't run; she could hardly move her broken legs. Blood was seeping into her left eye, tingeing her already blurred vision with red. Her thoughts ceased to process as she lost herself to a surge of pure hate - something her adversary was quick to notice.
"Ah, that's what I like to see," he smirked. "A mudblood all wound up in her last, worthless moments."
She dug her fingers into the sodden, crimson earth as he raised his wand.
"I'd rather be a mudblood than a coward."
She didn't know what she expected to achieve from that statement, but she was rather hoping for more. He simply cocked his head to one side, as though he was feeling sorry for her for being so ignorant. Slightly interested, mostly bored. He raised his wand higher. Her lids were closed – she didn't want to give him the satisfaction of seeing the light leave her eyes.
She didn't breathe in fear of finding she couldn't.
Malfoy turned to the woman who appeared on his left, his wand still pointing at Hermione's face. "Narcissa, you were not to enter the battle?" His tone was clipped.
"The Dark Lord sent me – you are to capture a hostage, we are retreating immediately."
Retreating? Hermione felt a flutter of hope in her numbed heart.
"The half-giant has returned with a few friends." She spit out the word with disgust.
Hearing the sound of hooves behind her, Hermione turned away, seeking the source. Powerful, four-legged bodies were bearing down the Death Eaters as what must have been at least two hundred centaurs galloped out of the Forbidden Forest, a shower of arrows preceding them. The hooded men tried to shield themselves against the gale of wood and steel, but many were failing dismally. They were outnumbered.
Hagrid! You brilliant man! She would have smiled if she could.
"This battle is lost, we need to regroup. Take her," Lucius ordered. He was already walking away with his wife, apparently not wishing to dirty his hands on the mangled mudblood. A foul stench assaulted her nostrils as a whiskery face appeared above her own, smeared with grime and blood.
"Well hello, pretty." She wanted to gag. His hand was in her hair, thrusting her head back so she had no choice but to face him. His green eyes were alive with a sick excitement. "Best hurry you out of here, before the bad men find you." He winked at her. She spit in his face.
Hermione's limbs snapped to her sides as her body went stiff as a board. Blinding pain reigned as her broken legs objected to the sudden, harsh movement. She couldn't even summon the muscles necessary to scream – an outsider would observe only her silent tears.
The man straightened up slowly. To her horror, he merely licked her spittle of his cheek, smirking at her expression. The world was starting to spin around her, falling out from under her, trapping her in a swirl of colour with this...this thing...
With a swish of Greyback's wand, Hermione was levitated toward the direction the Malfoys had taken. They were heading for the gate.
No no no...they can't disapparate with me! Why isn't anyone noticing this!
She was bumped ruthlessly into rocks and trees while Greyback jogged close behind her. She could hear his rasping breath, the stench of death surrounding him still potent enough to make her want to black out just to avoid it. The explosions and screams of the distant battle were starting to fade. Soon she would be beyond their help.
Please, please just look this way! Please, Harry, Tonks, Charlie...anyone...
Upon reaching the gate she was dropped to the ground abruptly, bruising her shoulder on a rock protruding from the freezing earth. Her captor walked past her without so much as a glance.
"What do I do with it?"
Funny. He's a murderous animal, but I'm the one being referred to as "it".
"Where do you think? Can your canine brain not comprehend the concept of prisoner?"
Greyback stormed back, narrowly avoiding stomping on Hermione's head. He knelt down beside her and lifted the body-bind curse.
"You will reward me for all this trouble," he hissed, a chain snaking from his wand to bind her wrists. "I'll make sure I get my turn. I'm sure your filthy blood won't make the rest of your body any less...enjoyable."
He hissed the last word in her ear, his foul breath tainting her skin. Hermione felt the hair on the back of her neck raise in defence. She despised the way his hands were sliding over her lower back, resting momentarily on her backside, and continued down her legs. She was almost grateful when he finally chained her feet together. He picked her up and threw her over his shoulder carelessly, knocking the wind out of her. His filthy nails...claws...were digging into her lower back, scarring her already bruised flesh.
"Lupin!" Harry bellowed over the sounds of the raging battle. He was ducking curses left and right, no longer caring about any of his objectives. The man he was pursuing turned around warily, as if he was hoping to avoid what was coming. Harry saw dismay flit across the features of his father's old friend, and pulled him into an alcove behind a suit of armour.
"Where is she?" he asked quietly. "You brought her here. She was fighting with you." He struggled to keep the accusatory tone from his voice, but there were still far too many traces of blame; Lupin realised the undercurrent of Harry's words.
The older man sighed, suddenly looking twice the age Harry knew him to be. The Death Eaters were retreating, no doubt because of the army of centaurs. Now was probably as good a time as any.
"I tried to stop her, Harry. After Ron...after it happened..." He couldn't finish that sentence. He tried another. "I was duelling Dolohov, I wasn't watching her. She ran after him, she saw it happen..." Lupin's words failed him once more. What could he possibly say?
Harry was livid. Unsure of where he should direct his anger, he punched the suit of armour, scattering the metal pieces across the floor while a cry of frustration escaped him. He turned back to Lupin, who fought the urge to back away.
"I can't lose them both in one day!" Harry's voice cracked under the strain. He crouched down and sat with his back against the wall, resting his head on the cold stone. Voldemort knew love was his weakness, but Harry had been too blind to see it himself. That snake knew exactly what to do to win this war. How was Harry supposed to focus on battles when his two best friends were...gone?
"It's not over yet," Lupin was crouching beside him. "Harry – I saw her being levitated towards the gate."
Harry almost choked on a sob. "That's supposed to make me feel better?" He wanted nothing more than to scream it in Lupin's face. "Am I supposed to be happy that they're going to torture and rape her before they finally let her drown in her own dirty blood?"
His harsh words seemed to vibrate in the quieting hallway. Lupin looked at him. He seemed weary, but Harry knew he wasn't defeated...yet.
"There might be a chance that she gets out of this alive, Harry. That's what we have to hold on to."
The teenager gave a shaky sigh and nodded. Lupin helped him up.
She was used to the suffocating sensation of apparition, but this time it made her feel sick. As they appeared in front of a different set of big, black gates, Hermione vomited violently all over the werewolf's shredded Death Eater robes. With a cry of disgust he threw her on the ground. Hard. She whimpered, only to receive a boot in the stomach. She choked on the metallic taste in her mouth - she was coughing up blood.
Others were laughing behind them.
"Is the big bad wolf having girl-trouble?" a woman was saying. Her voice was deep, unsettling.
"I don't recall you handling her so well yourself, Lestrange." Hermione cringed at the name. "I saw her knocking you unconscious earlier tonight," he growled back.
One of my proudest moments.
"I was distracted, you filthy half-breed!" Bellatrix screeched. "How dare you even suggest a mudblood could best me! I am..."
"...The Dark Lord's most faithful servant. We know, Bella." Lucius drawled, obviously bored. "Not a day goes by that you fail to remind us."
Some of the Death Eaters nearby were grumbling in agreement, Greyback literally growling at being called a half-breed. Bellatrix opened her mouth to retort, but never spoke. An ear-splitting creak was tearing through the small crowd; Bellatrix stared ahead, all emotion draining from her face. Hermione knew why. The gates were opening.
"Come," Lucius was leading the way. "The Dark Lord awaits us."
Voldemort? Hermione's heart would have raced if it weren't so weak. I can't, no! I can't face him...not him...
She kept her eyes on the Malfoy patriarch in front of them, a white-hot rage gripping her insides. He was strolling along as nonchalantly as if he were returning home after a vacation. If he weren't wearing black dragon-hide gloves, Hermione could have imagined the blood of one of the people she loved most in the world burning holes in his hands.
I'm so sorry Ron. That bastard will pay.
Her body was floating ahead of Greyback again, leaving droplets of life on the stone path. He was keeping his distance this time. Hermione felt her last resources being drained, she was no longer able to determine up from down. The air around her was starting to feel like a silk sheet on her skin, coaxing her into a painless sleep from which she might never awake. The last thing she saw before the blackness engulfed her was the sympathetic eyes of a snow white peacock.
A/N: I am one of those sad authors who need a few reviews to keep writing. Humour me, please. I have cookies...