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"How did it happen?" She asked, eyes closed.
It was a few moments before anyone spoke. "When I became pregnant," Narcissa began quietly, "The Dark Lord was at the height of his power. Through quite a few misplaced decisions, Lucius had been initiated into His innermost circle. When Voldemort learned of my pregnancy, he was pleased. Not because I was now creating life, but because he now had a new sort of control over Lucius. If he did wrong, the Voldemort would punish me, whether through the cruciatus curse, of though more . . . creative forms of punishment."
A shudder ran through Lucius's body as he remembered what his wife told. "It was wretched," he said. "Her screams alone were enough to drive me insane. Insane enough to be considered one of Voldemort's most elite. He knew, you know, that we were awaiting twins. I believe on of his goals he wished to achieve through his torture of Narcissa was to eliminate one of you. A goal which he very nearly reached. One that I told him he had achieved."
"But, why choose to hide me rather than Malfoy? And why wait until now to tell us?" Hermione asked, gesturing to herself and Draco.
Narcissa raised a nicely manicured hand to silence Hermione's barrage of questions. "This is what we were getting to. The Dark Lord revered men and boys above women and girls. Draco was to be much safer around Him. More so than you would have been, so you see, I asked my sister and her husband to take you and hide you."
"You're - you're sister?" Hermione asked.
Ara nodded now. "Yes. You probably didn't notice my name on the Black family tapestry because I married Richard. A muggle."
"Oh," Hermione said, turning her eyes to the floor.
"I believe you wanted to know why we kept this a secret from you two for so long?" Narcissa asked.
Hermione nodded. "Yes," she replied. "I would also like to know why you two didn't try to do anything about my position, either."
"Ara put us both under a memory charm, a very strong memory charm that only the creator could recognize and break. It was the only way to keep you truly safe from Voldemort. It wouldn't have been enough to simply lie to him. He would have looked into our heads and seen our lies, and, so, we needed to believe the lie ourselves." Narcissa paused for breath. "As for why we waited for so long, we wanted the threat of Voldemort to be gone before we told you about your predicament. Too bad you were involved with him, anyhow. We had hoped to protect you from ever being on the receiving end of His wrath." She looked down now, tears shining in her pristine eyes. "I cannot express to you the pain that I feel, knowing that you were imprisoned in my basement, tortured by my sister. It's - it's unbearable."
"It wasn't your fault," Hermione said finally. "You were clearly under his control. Draco was terrified. I remember that much." She looked at him now. "I am so sorry if you were tortured after Harry stole your wand. I really was worried for you. Even if I did hate you, I would never wish Voldemort's wrath upon another human."
Draco looked over at his, his eyes the only sign of his vulnerability. "I was worried for you, too, you know," he told her.
"Really?" Hermione asked. "You were?"
Draco nodded, looking sullen. "I wouldn't wish that on another human, either."
Hermione smiled a little sadly. "I'm sorry that we've hated each other for so long."
"I am, too," he told her. "But I had to do it. I had to show Voldemort that my loyalties lay with him. My mother - our mother - was a weak point for both my father and I, and He realized it. He . . ." Draco broke off then, his normally uncaring, blank eyes shining with tears that hadn't fallen.
Hermione reached for his hand, surprising herself. "It's okay," she told him gently. "He's not coming back this time."
"Yeah, and it's all thanks to you. I owe you my life, Hermione."
She smiled crookedly. "Nah. Harry did all the work, I just helped him along the way."
"You stood up against Bellatrix, even though she tortured you ruthlessly. If you had told her the truth, Harry would have been beaten, probably even killed. Hermione, more than one person owes you their life."
I forgot to tell you all that this story is all because of my friend Natasha. She's great. ^.^ Anywho, review, please.