Disclaimer: Rowling's writings belong to their writer. That is, Rowling. And they are also copyrighted by various publishing houses that make money by using Rowling, while she makes even more money. I do not make any money whatsoever, since I am simply a silly fanfic author. Any questions?

A/N: This came to me on a lonely, quiet Sunday night. It's actually a rather weird and mildly disturbing idea, but I simply -had- to write it down. It is a little one-shot based on a AU version of what could have happened to Hermione after HBP. Enjoy, or not. And please, write one of these cute little things called reviews.

WARNINGS: Femslash, D/s, a LOT of non-con, mountains of Crucios, and all of it written in a deceptively light tone. NOT for the faint of heart, it's rated M for a reason.

Behind the wall of madness

Day zero

It's a nice, breezy summer night, but Hermione is not quite managing to enjoy herself. In a few days she'll be going to the Burrow, and that's a relief, but for now she's rather miserable. And that's because during these few days she's got left, she will have to ensure the safety of her parents by placing a memory charm on them, making them think they are Wendell and Monica Wilkins, whose lifetime ambition is to move to Australia. But her lifetime ambition is neither to be forgotten by her own parents, nor to go hunting for Horcruxes. It's rather something along the lines of publishing an exceptional paper on protective charms and thus receiving the Merlin Award for Magical Excellence.

However, before her desires, she must now put her duty. And what she must do is help her parents survive the war and then assist Harry in his quest to destroy Voldemort. She is not really sure they have a chance against the dark wizard, but they will try anyway, because they are Gryffindors and because their loved ones' survival depends on them.

Sometimes, Hermione wishes she was a muggle girl instead, because then her biggest problem would involve whether to apply for Oxford or Cambridge. Sometimes.

It then occurs to her that since she has very few moments left to enjoy with her mother and father before she has to delete her existence from their minds, she should run back home and try to make the most of them, which she does. God knows if she will ever see them again, after the war. So she hastily makes her way back home, but not before a couple of Death Eaters randomly apparate a few feet before her. The young woman is paralyzed by shock for a few seconds, her mind reeling on how they could have possibly found where she lives and... Snape, of course. He'd know.

"Petrificus Totalus!" she casts, and misses. She then dodges a slashing hex at the very last moment, and a badly aimed Boiling Blood curse fortunately misses her.

"Expelliarmus!" she screeches, desperately, and indeed one of the Death Eaters flies back, his wand blasted away from his hand. Only there are three more, dark, hooded figures approaching her, and she barely has the time to cast a Protego and avoid the...

From behind, a Stupefy hits her, and then something else that she can't identify. Her last thought before darkness surrounds her, is how peculiar it is for a Death Eater to use a fairly harmless spell such as Stupefy. They must have orders to bring her alive, she concludes, and then faints.

Day one

Hermione Granger is woken up by a spitefully painful slap. No Rennervate wasted on mudbloods, it seems. She opens her eyes, and just a few inches from her own face she sees the pale, aristocratic face of Bellatrix Lestrange. The female Death Eater is grinning widely, and looks to be, as usual, absolutely insane. Remembering the grim fate of Neville's parents, she shudders. She would probably be better off with someone mildly civilised, like Snape or Malfoy, she thinks, recalling the black-haired woman's maniacal laughter echoing in the Department of Mysteries.

"Wakey wakey little mudgirl," the woman says, her eyes glinting like happy coal. Hermione tries to move away, only to realise that she can't actually move. She is bound with restraining spells, and very powerful ones, too, glistening like green cords of light around her form. She decides to say nothing, for the time being. Actually, even if she could think of something heroic to spit out, she is almost too scared to talk, anyway.

"For the few days to come, you will be my most honoured guest... of honour!" Bellatrix adds, and Hermione can't help but think that all the inbreeding within the Black family must have brought to surface serious mental problems. I also occurs to her that she will probably be tortured for information, and then killed slowly and painfully. She remains silent yet again, but fidgets a bit, looking around for any possible means of escape, or inspiration for a plan.

"Don't be so fearful! I am not actually allowed to kill you. How lucky is that? It's like you've just won the lottery," the mad witch hisses gleefully. It is right then that Hermione becomes officially mortified, feeling cold shiver climbing up her spine. A swift death would have been the best of options with this woman, and it has just been erased.

"See, the big boys have things to do now, very busy men you know, so they have left you with me, to keep you safe from harm until this stupid boy tries to come and rescue you. So that then we can slaughter you all." Bellatrix explains between chuckles, and in Hermione's eyes she looks like a female mixture between Patrick Bateman and Willy Wonka, which is hardly encouraging. Her thoughts shift to Harry and Ron, and if she had been secretely hoping for them to come and rescue her, she doesn't now. In fact, she really hopes they have learned something from the Department of Mysteries fiasco, and don't fall into the trap so easily. Although she knows they probably will, with their tendency for heroics and all, and the thought of any harm falling upon them enrages her.

"They won't come. They are not as stupid as you think! You might as well just kill me and get over with it," the young girl spits at Bellatrix, trying to act with confidence, though she feels none. At least, she will prove the Sorting Hat right to have placed her in Gryffindor; she will have the chance to be boldly, defiantly brave.

"I am sure they will, dearest mudgirl. Foolish kids with hero complexes. My favorite for breakfast," the witch replies, and the she giggles. There is something really disturbing about her features, because underneath the layers of madness and malevolence, Bellatrix is oddly beautiful. But Hermione doesn't notice that yet.

"Even though I am not allowed to kill you or break you too badly, I have permission to play with you as I see fit. So let's have a bit of fun, then, shan't we? Or at least I will. I don't know about you, little mudgirl," the female Death Eater suggests joyfully, and her grin widens, spreading from one ear to another. Hermione suddenly feels like she wants to puke, a combination of anger and terror shredding her insides viciously.

The first Cruciatus is perhaps the worst thing the young student has ever experienced. It feels like she is being skinned alive, and burned, and slashed across her whole body with rusty razors. It feels like her entrails are being pulled out of her navel, like her eyes are plucked out, and then her battered body dropped into acid. It lasts for what seems like an eternity, an endless sequence of excruciating sensations, bursts of agony. She screams and screams and screams, until her vocal chords are torn apart. Then she still screams, only she can barely be heard anymore.

The second Cruciatus is not any better. At all.

Nor is the third one, for there is simply no getting used to this damned cursed.

At some point it ends, and Hermione is flooded with gratitude just for the fact that she is alive without suffering. She collapses to the floor.

Day Two

Bellatrix is genuinely delighted to have this little toy at home. She gets lonely sometimes, when the other Death Eaters are not around. Especially now that her husband's dead. Not that they were really close, or had much in common besides their common dedication to the Dark Lord. In fact, she didn't even feel a remote sense of companionship when it came to him, that simple-minded, crude man, but still...

"Eat this. It's for filthy puppies like you," she tells the young creature, tossing a bowl at her. The mudblood tries to extend her body in order to reach the bowl, but the magical restaints are holding her back. Mrs Lestrange is in a good mood however, and thus she mercifully kicks the food a little closer to the prisoner with the edge of her stilleto heels.

Hermione notices that the food she is given is actual dog food. Dry, tasteless and smelling like a small, long-dead mammal. But she eats it anyway, because she knows that she must hold on to every calorie she can get, for god knows when she will be allowed to eat again. Bravado is great, but survival is not too bad either, her brains tell her, and she obliges.

"Good puppy." Bellatrix exclaims happily, dark eyes glinting with sadistic excitement. When Hermione is done eating, the older witch casts a Cruciatus for no apparent reason, and then laughs loudly as she stares at the writhing girl. When the pain curse is lifted, the Death Eater rips off Hermione's clothes with a swift movement of her wand, leaving her in her underwear and shaking in residual pain as well as shame. Bellatrix then brings in an empty potato sack, and tosses it before the shivering girl with a fluid, elegant movement.

"You should wear this. It would suit your hair," she offers.

"I'd rather stay completely au naturel," Hermione replies coldly, her voice hoarse from all the screaming but thoroughly defiant. Her reply is not impulsive at all, however. In fact, it is intelligently calculated. She hopes that by being too eager to degrade herself she might help Bellatrix lose interest in her. It can't be fun to break someone who's already volunteering like that.

"Oh, very animal. I like it," the older witch comments and winks, a silent spell leaving the muggleborn absolutely naked.

Hermione is then left alone for quite a few hours, and her sharp, pragmatic mind juggles with various scenarios and plans before Bellatrix finally returns.

The Death Eater is an a bad mood, that much is painfully obvious. She spitefully throws a few minor pain curses at her prisoner, and then simply glares at her. Her stare is terrifying and really deranged, her deep, black eyes glistening in a manner brutal but also sickeningly sweet.

"I think I will carve my name on your back with a kitchen knife," Bellatrix suddenly declares. She actually does it, too, and there is no real need to describe how the young girl feels about that.

Day Three

There's more curses of all kinds today, more disturbed laughter and more blood. Hermione tires of planning and hoping and being brave eventually, and instead she closes her eyes, tired, wishing to die. At some point she even says so aloud.

"Why don't you just fucking kill me?" she screams in despair.

"You are good company. It would be a waste," Bellatrix responds, and her eyes are burning with her desire to dominate and destroy.

Day Four

When Hermione is given a plate of decent food, she looks up at her captor with eyes full of suspicion, wondering what kind of game the older woman is playing this time. The smell is too strong though, meaty, sharp and alluring, so she eats it anyway. It seems to not be poisoned, and is actually rather tasty.

"I am making up in advance for all the horrible things I am going to do to you," Bellatrix informs her, and somehow the girl is really not surprised; it really is the kind of twisted logic someone like Bellatrix would employ. That, of course, does not mean she is not terrified, but since she fervently hopes that Harry and Ron will not make any stupid attempts to rescue her, she decides that perhaps it's for the best that she should be the one to suffer. Ron would have broken down within the first day.

The raven-haired witch decides that today's theme is temperature, so by the end of their nice session, Hermione's nipples and various other private areas are covered with wax. Magical wax, the kind that cools down very, very slowly; an invention of Mrs Lestrange herself. And then there is that dry ice hex, and the branding irons. Only the irons leave no trace, because as soon as the young skin is withered and marked, Bellatrix erases al the scars and starts all over again.

Hermione tries her best not to resist, and yet not too react. Resisting or reacting will only make her captor enjoy this more, and therefore be eager to indulge herself again, for longer periods of time. The student forces her mind to roam free, in fields of knowledge and beauty, away from war and horror; she thinks of partial transfiguration, or advanced Roman charms, of Mayan fertility rituals.

It doesn't really work.

Day Five

What Hermione is actually beginning to notice is that Bellatrix is careful not to leave any scars on her. When she does, she immediately heals them, before the skin is permanently marred, with a meticulous care that is quite eerie. The girl doesn't understand the practical value of that. It's not as if Harry will stop attempting to rescue her if she is covered in cicatrices.

"Why do you erase my scars?" she asks Bellatrix, when the witch is around once again. Her voice is hesitant and raw, but she lifts her large, brown eyes defiantly nonetheless.

"Because otherwise your decorative value would decrease," the reply comes. It is very matter-of-factly.

"Decorative value?"

"Well, yes. As disgusting as -you- are, your body is not that bad at all," Bellatrix observes somewhat casually, and beams at her victim. She lets her dark, savage eyes travel across the landscape of Hermione's exposed curves in appreciation, and the young girl feels even more vulnerable than when she was writhing under her captor's Crucios. "Maybe I will keep you as a stuffed animal when you die." the pureblood adds.

Hermione decides that, with Mrs Lestrange, it is best not to ask.

Day Six

The food pattern appears to be once every two days. Today the quantity is spendid, but the food itself is actually cat food. Hermione doesn't complain at all. A strange sense of routine is beginning to develop inside her, and she begins to wonder when and how this will end.

Bellatrix drags her from a large chain across the corridors, chuckling. She brings her to her study, and ties her to a chair at he corner of the room, like some kind of domestic animal. Then she orders the young woman to be quiet, and she sits gracefully in front of a desk, a large, dusty tome opening in fron of her and filling the beautiful room with the smell of old paper. Squinting her eyes, Hermione can recognise "Curses from the Shadow", by Anyana Lustmord, and from what she can see -dark leather binding, hand-written, coloured calligraphy- it's probably one of the 1649 copies, too. Suddenly she is genuinely envious. The older woman reads, absorbed and silent, and the she decides to try something out.

"Punctum Venter" the Death Eater casts at Hermione, flicking her wrist nonchalantly, and translating the latin inside her head, the girl deduces that her belly will probably be pierced in various places. Only nothing actually happens, because Bellatrix's wand movements are wrong.

"You are doing it wrong." Hermione says, and she is not sure why she actually says that.

"How so?" the other woman replies, arching one thin eyebrow in evident amusement. Strangely enough, she does not seem vexed at all.

"The wand movements. The last downwards turn must be made slowly," the brown-eyed girl observes.

"Are you a muddy little masochist, huh? Helping me torture you more aptly?" Bellatrix asks and chuckles, her porcelain face bright with amusement. Apparently this is all very funny to her.

"No. But since you are going to be torturing me anyway, I might as well try to avoid the additional torture of having to witness badly cast curses. I am allergic to idiocy," the answer comes. Brown eyes look up into black ones. Mrs Lestrange is furious, obviously, but somewhat impressed nonetheless.

She casts a Cruciatus anyway.

Day Seven

The change in Bellatrix' behaviour after that day is rather evident to the young girl's sharp perception, albeit very subtle. She no longer treats Hermione like an endearing little squirrel she might as well skin. She is treating her like a captive enemy, a person to be broken rather than a simple animal. It is not that the young girl is treated any better. Far from it. The curses are more painful, and the words colder and sharper. But Hermione knows that this change signifies a degree of respect from her captor, and despite her best efforts to remain unflattered by that, she cannot help a sense of pride.

She is worthy of being treated like a foe, not like a simple diversion.

And although the methods of torture are increasingly twisted and worthy of Lestrange's deranged mind, Hermione is nevertheless not feeling any worse than she previously did. Nevermind the caning and the branding. She is beyond comparing amounts of pain; she is beginning to view this as a giant, perverted joke.

Day Eight

Hermione spends her spare time daydreaming about her friends and her books. Mostly about her books. She concocts new potions in her mind, constructs magnifcent charms and comes up with bright new Arithmacy formulas. Too bad they are probably never going to be published, she thinks to herself, not without a bit of sadness. If she could get a last wish, it would probably be publishing a research paper. She had always dreamed of signing her name with nice, calligraphic letters under one of these.

Bellatrix walks in, long skirts billowing, and she is holding a large book that seems to be at least a couple of centuries old.

"How does this translate from Sanskrit?" she asks, pointing out an obscure passage on blood rituals to the chained girl.

"Why would I tell you?" the girl replies, but even as she mouths the words, the futility of trying to play brave downs on her. Even if she does not speak, the dark witch will easily acquire a translation through linguistic spellwork or by sending some house elf to get the passage otherwise translated.

Lestrange smirks.

"Because you clearly have an inferiority complex, due to your pitiable blood status, and you thus feel compelled to show off your academic abilities," she responds casually. And this confirms the young girl's theory that the female Death Eater is not, in fact, really insane. She is clever, and can draw rational conclusions. She is even frighteningly observant. The additional madness is perhaps a choice, a "just for the fun" factor.

"Fair enough. It says that the blood of the infant must be spilled at midnight during Samhain, and that the infant must have been cleaned with jasmin water and then covered in ox blood," Hermione quiclkly translates, wondering why the older woman would actually be asking for her help. One would think she would be ashamed to manifest inferior knowledge compared to a petty mudblood. Unless...

"You don't really think knowledge is power, do you?" Hermione suddenly asks.

"Of course not, you silly little creature. Only power is power," Bellatrix replies.

Day Nine

The brown-haired girl is sleeping, dreaming about her happy memories, her parents, that trip to Venice with her cousins, and Ron's freckles. The crack of the whip wakes her up. And keeps her up for hours. And yet, as always, Bellatrix erases the scars carefully, leaving the girl's lean body smooth and flawless. The blood on the floor looks out of place when they are done.

Only they are not done, because Bellatrix decides that she is in the mood for an entirely different kind of activity. Which once again does not surprise the young hostage, although is does horrify her, for the Death Eater is widly known for her unsatiable libido and perverted desires.

"Isn't a mudblood beneath you, really?" Hermione asks, trying to avoid the inevitable, and trying to keep the fear from sipping into her voice.

"Not even torturing little animals is beneath me, darling, when it comes to pleasure," Bellatrix replies cheerily, and then she unleashes waves after waves of humiliation and pain at the young girl. At some point, the older witch stares at her bloodied fist, mildly surprised.

"You were a virgin?" she asks, glaring over at the tear-stained face of the aching girl before her. But Hermione doesn't answer, because with all the panting she is barely managing to breathe.

Day Ten

Hermione no longer thinks about the slightly awkward, really affectionate and very endearing first time she could have experienced in the arms of Ronald Weasley. She tries to be intelligent and practical. Her logic tells her that being a victim of her captor's sexual deviances is less painful and less physically traumatising than being subject to a surplus of Cruciatus curses, that can render one literally comatose. Even if by a small margin.

Thus she aims at becoming a sexual toy rather than a punching bag, for she'll probably be better off that way.

"Are you actually liking this, you sick little mudblood?" Bellatrix inquires at some point, hissing the words curiously.

The young girl is not liking it. Not liking it at all. But she moans and pants nonetheless. Better that than the pain hexes, the hot iron or the cane, she thinks to herself, and tries to block out the humiliation.

"Dear me, you are. They say it's always the quiet ones, huh?" Bellatrix exclaims in eager joy, and forces herself some more upon her prisoner.

Day Eleven

The hideously uncomfortable magical restraints are gone. Instead, there is this large, rusty chain hanging from a large collar around Hermione's neck, and also a pair of handcuffs around her wrists. The girl is relieved. Her back hurts considerably less that way.

"How is the war going?" she asks Bellatrix between gasps, while the woman is doing something related to pins and Hermione's small, pert breasts.

"The war? It's doing just fine. The longer it lasts the better. I love wars," the Death Eater replies, her eyes glimmering as they so often do.

"You are not giving me a straight answer. Must mean Voldemort's losing," the girl whispers and then draws a sharp breath as that annoying pin plunges into her flesh again.

"I don't care either way." Bellatrix replies and cackles. Hermione is really surprised that calling the Dark Lord by his name did not cause her captor to go ballistic. But then again, she already is ballistic.

"You don't?"

"No. I am here for the means, not for the end. And because the Dark Lord is a very attractive man."

"He might have been. Before the whole looking like a lizard thing," Hermione says and shrugs. It is then that she realises what she is trying to do. She is trying to taunt Bellatrix. To get her angry. Of course, she fails, because this woman's emotions do not function like any other human being's.

"Actually, I like him better now," the woman responds with an odd lightness to her tone, and resumes her torturing activities.

Day Twelve

"Can you cook, muddy puppy?" Bellatrix asks, and the young girl just about chokes on her breath at the question.

"Yes," she simply replies.

"Then cook something, won't you? I am quite busy today, and the house elves are otherwise occupies. And it better be delicious, or else I will shove it up your muddy little orifices," Mrs Lestrange orders her cheerfully, and with a sharp wand movement Hermione's shackles are gone. Not the heavy chain hanging from her neck though.

The student muses on the various possibilities. First of all, it occurs to her that it is a rather good opportunity to attempt an escape. Her hands are free, and she might get them on a knife at some point. If Bellatrix approaches she could stab her to death and then steal her wand, with which she'd free herself.

But no. The insane woman's stick is appears to be a heavy mahoganny one, without doubts completely incompatible with her own magic. She'd probably end up killing herself if she tried to cast with it. And anyway, Bellatrix would probably require dozens of stabs to die. It would be terribly hard.

She puts aside her grand Gryffindor escape plan, and instead she makes some lasagna. The dark witch eats most of the food cheerily, and then throws the rest away.

She rewards Hermione with some dog treats and a Cruciatus.

Day Thirteen

Bellatrix is missing during most of the day, and the young hostage finds herself irritated by that fact. Bound, naked and alone, she has nothing to do other than think and hope. At least, her interaction with the female Death Eater helps time flow, so she is actually pleased when Bellatrix finally walks into the room. The older witch is bloodied, and looking rather exhausted.

"Ouch," Hermione says sarcastically, but this time Bellatrix is not amused. She kicks the girl hard between the legs, and Hermione's body folds in two, as waves of pain flood her nervous system. Well, it is only natural. She is angry and needs someone to lash out on. Afterwards, the dark witch starts casting various healing spells on her large variety of newly acquired war-wounds. A big, green gash appears particularly persistent, and while she casts various complex cures on it, it does not seem willing to disappear.

Hermione, from her little corner, finds herself exasperated with Bellatrix' healing incompetence. The know-it-all gets the best of her, and she impulsively intervenes.

"It is not a curse wound, it's a hex wound. And apparently it's an earth-natured hex wound." Hermione quietly murmurs.

Bellatrix raises an eyebrow.

"It means you need to use Terra Curarum. With a rightwards forty degree swish," the girl patiently explains, as if to a child. The female Death Eater looks simulteounsly outraged by her insolence, and intruiged. He casts the suggested spell anyway, and of course it works. Hermione is, after all, a borderline genius, brightest witch of her generation, brain of the trio, and so on.

"Such talent wasted on a pathetic little animal like you. It makes me want to cry," Bellatrix shrieks. The young girl knows it is a compliment, and despite herself, she inwardly smiles.

That does not mean that she does not get tortured, though. Quite the contrary. She gets tortured in a very intimate, passionate way, another one of Bellatrix's elaborate scenarios, right out of a cheesy but grandiose porn movie. The way involves vegetables and wax.

And as always, Bellatrix' crystalline, terrifying laughter.

Day Fourteen

When the dark witch orders Hermione to lick her pale feet, the young girl sees it more as an opportunity than a chore. She is not even disgusted, for all the dog food has numbed off her taste buds. In fact, she carries the task out with eagerness and even fakes pleasure, letting out a single stifled moan at some point, and flushing. She has thought about it long and hard, and thinks it possible to win the older woman over. So she does what she is told with excess passion, like a lover.

Bellatrix seems surprised. Her intention was obviously to humiliate the girl, and it doesn't appear to be working.

"You are not meant to be enjoying yourself so much. That's my part," she informs the girl, and pouts. Deciding to show the girl some pain, she steps on the young belly with her sharp heels, her luscious lips curving upwards in obvious enjoyment. It hurts quite badly, and Hermione grunts. And then she gathers all her courage to do the unthinkable.

"More," she hisses at the demented woman standing above her.

Bellatrix' eyes become instantly clouded with lust. A dominatrix by nature and nurture, she can barely resist such a blatant display of wanton subservience. Her red lips part, and indeed she pushes her heels again onto her hostage's young body. Hermione bites her lip, and although is it because of the pain, it is a most seductive response.

The female Death Eater seems to be examining a possibility for a moment, and then she walks away. But not before Hermione detects the lust, the suppressed desire for, indeed, more.

The tables are turning. Hermione is a prodigy mainly for her ability to become good at anything she is exposed to. Anything.

Day Fifteen

Today Bellatrix' features are unusually hard when she returns from some skirmish or another. There is no playful madness and disturbing joy. There's only death in them. When her black eyes fall on the naked girl, she looks a bit conflicted, but hatred wins.

Subsequently, there are some Cruciatis curses. And deep gashes from the whip. Purple bruises from the cane, and blood gushing out of slashes. No little games today, just pain. And Hermione is reminded of just how deeply sick Bellatrix is, how merciless and twisted. "You pathetic little piece of trash. Let me show you what be like to do to mudbloods," she spits, her voice full of vemon.

But Hermione is a Gryffindor, and her plan is not abandoned. Although the pain is excrutiating, during the final whipping she does manage to formulate a few clear moans.

Bellatrix freezes at the sound. A shadow passes behind her eyes, one that the young girl can't identify. She then walks away, breathing more heavily than usual, her breast heaving up and down over the bindings of her corset.

Day Sixteen

When Bellatrix walks into the room, her face looks changed. She leans towards the girl, bringing said face closer to Hermione than she ever did before. Everything she has ever subjected her prisoner to had always been through flicking her wand, or at least with her hands only. Never has her head been so close. It is a kind of intimacy that shows Hermione she has truly managed to get under the woman's skin; she is managing to genuinely affect her.

Their faces are inches away, and Hermione notices that the witch is actually quite beautiful, madness and malevolence aside. Even with her wild, eerie hair, she is entrancingly attractive. She has deep dark eyes, a pale, glowing skin, sharp bones and lips as scarlet as a wild rose. The student notices those facts casually, disinterestedly, cynically. But she notices them nonetheless.

Then Bellatrix leans further in and bites the girl hard on the shoulder. Blood gushes out and Hermione screams in pain. She does so again when her breast is brutally bitten, and then her thigh.
But she knows she has scored a point, and she lets her captor know it as well.

"I thought you'd avoid biting me like that. Soiling your mouth with my mud," Hermione whispers hoarsely. She thinks she is clever; she can do this. She can understand how Bellatrix' mind works, and manipulate her. She the genius of her generation, is she not?

Resentment floods the dark witch. The girl gets a hard kick between the legs, and writhes in agony. The point has been scored though. Irreversibly.

Day Seventeen.

Hermione does not enjoy activities that involve her anal cavity. But she much prefers them compared to when Bellatrix goes into cruel Crucio sprees. So she doesn't complain. She feels knifeplay is even more unpleasant, but she nevertheless finds it easy to insert a few little indicators of pleasure every now and then. Her nerves are numb with the pain, and it becomes easier to act. Everytime she lets out a muffled little moan and parts her lips, Bellatrix seems to lose a little more of her self-restraint, and she starts hissing lustful insults and curses.

In the end, Hermione is not the only one panting. But this time the dark witch does not storm out. Instead she presses her body against her prisoner's bloodied one, and her nails dig deep into the girls back. Inwardly, Hermione is smirking, but outwardly she screams in pain and pleasure.

Bellatrix' hand burries itself inside her, reminding her of the day she lost her virginity in a similar way. The woman's teeth find her breast and do something nasty to it, but the young girl doesn't mind, really. All of this is a victory for her, because she knows that Bellatrix is doing this against her own beliefs, against her own ideals.

And at that thought, Hermione is actually aroused.

Day Eighteen

The Death Eater once again returns to her estate in a fairly bad shape. This time she cures all her wounds properly, but her face is pasty in its colour, even more pallid than it usually is. Severe blood loss, Hermione infers.

"A blood-replentishing potion will help," she suggets, and her voice is rough from the hours of screaming.

"I know, you stupid little creature. But try finding Moonwort during a war," Bellatrix replies flatly.


"If I knew where Snape is, I'd skin him alive slowly while feeding him his own flesh. Bertayed both his masters in the end, the cowardly worm," the witch replies and her voice is filled with rage and madness. Hermione tries not too look too happy at the news. So the murder was part of the late Headmaster's plan after all. She had examined the possibility, but had no proof. It's good to know that a brilliant man like Snape is not Harry's enemy. Her friend's chances are probably better now.

"An advanced blood-cell multiplier spell, then?" she offers, and tries to look genuinely concerned for the dark witch, if only to unsettle her.

"My specialty is not healing, sweetheart," Bellatrix spits back at her. And indeed it isn't. Her mind is an exquisite armory of the most obscure, twisted Dark curses, but sometimes Hermione doubts she can even cast a proper Reparo, for all that she does manage to patch her up decently after most of their sessions.

"It's Arca Puniceus Multiplicatorum, with a two consecutive backwards flips and a slow aiming movement in the end," Hermione explains. Bellatrix gets it wrong the first few times, but she does eventually manage. The girl is surprised. It's a very complex spell, after all, and not the kind of spellwork the Dark witch would be familiar with.

The older woman, now evidently healthier, approaches Hermione with a strange glint in her eyes.

"You are a pet of many uses," she purrs, and then casts a Cruciatus curse, just to remind her hostage that she is, in fact, a hostage. While Hermione is screaming in agony, her body convulsing and shivering is if her very flesh is on fire, Bellatrix leans in and starts licking her skin.

She leaves the curse on for a very long moment of time, longer than ever before, and Hermione's heartbeat is losing all rhythm, tears flowing from her glassy eyes. The dark witch licks her trembling breasts, her neck, her navel.

Then she stands up again, and the pain comes to an end. The young girl, in spite of the pain, is aware of what Bellatrix just did, and of how that proves the older woman is beginning to lose control. Gathering all the bravado she has left within her little trembling heart, she looks up to the witch.

"More," she mutters, her voice destroyed, her eyes nailed on her captor's exquisitely black ones.

Bellatrix holds a savage groan by gritting her teeth hard.

Day Nineteen

Hermione cooks again, today, and this time she gets to eat some of it, too. Afterwards, Mrs Lestrange gathers all manners of kitchen utilities, and uses them in ways they were not designed to be used, even inserting certain objects in cavities where they do not very well belong. She leaved them there for a while, and the young girl is not really enjoying the sensation. Additionally, she takes the cane out and savages the muggle-born's body with it, chuckling at the muffled cries. And when, finally, Hermione tires of trying to preserve some dignity and lets the tears flood her eyes, Bellatrix starts laughing out loud. She then leans in, and licks the blood from the girl's body.

Late at night, the Death Eater comes again. But this time she does not seem to be in the mood for any kind of disturbed fun.

"How is the war going?" Hermione asks.

"People are dying, which a good thing," Bellatrix vaguely replies.

"But Harry has not come to rescue me yet. So your plan is failing," the young girl points out, in a conversational tone with just a little bit of defiant triumph in it.

"Shut your filthy little mouth, mud child. If our Lord didn't have endless faith in your hero's stupidity, I'd have permission to torture you to death," Bellatrix observes. Her eyes, fathomless pits of shadow, are full of something that Hermione cannot quite identify; threat, desire, conflict, rage? The girl says nothing, wisely enough.

"For all that they call you one of the most loyal Death Eaters, you don't look like you care much about the outcome of this war," Hermione eventually remarks, a few minutes later. Bellatrix giggles.

"I am pleased with life as it is, all lovely and bloody. I just want the war to last as long as possible," she explains and smiles happily, radiantly even, looking like some sort of demented child.

"I guess. Life's not that bad right now," the young student responds. A very well calculated and completely dishonest reply, meant to give her captor the impression she is desired. Hermione wonders if she's slowly becoming a Slytherin.

Bellatrix arches an eyebrow at the statement, looking thoroughly amused.

"My, my, you naughty little mudgirl. What would your friends say?" she then says, tut-tuttting gleefully. A moment of silence passes.

"I don't think I care anymore, to be honest. Mrs Lestrange, will you hurt me?" the girl finally asks, faking wanton abandon as best as she can manage. The dark eyes of her captor are once more thick with awakened lust, and her nostrils flare.

"Only if you say "please, Mistress"," she hisses seductively, taking a step towards the bound, naked girl.

"Please... Mistress." Hermione eventually whispers, after feigning some sort of internal conflict.

Bellatrix licks her lips in vicious joy.

Day Twenty

Once again, the female Death Eater is away during most of the day, and the dull emptiness of each passing hour, along with the forced immobility are driving the young prisoner crazy. So crazy that when the dark witch finally returns, she can't help but show her relief. Bellatrix chuckles.

"Dear little mudblood. Did you miss me so bad?" she whines in mock endearment, batting her eyelashes with a unhealthy dose of her usual insanity.

She then kneels in front of the girl and casts a curse similar to a Cruciatus, but less excruciating. And while Hermione convulses from waves of repeating pain, the older woman spreads her shaking legs apart tenderly. She does not actually perform anything that could be classified as oral sex, for she uses her teeth often and cruelly, and the whole thing is far from pleasurable. In fact, it is merely an additional bit of pain.

Hermione is wondering why the woman didn't actually Crucio her, when she otherwise seems so terribly fond of that particular Unforgivable. She does not complain, however.

And then something entirely new happens. Bellatrix unbuttons the top part of her gothic gown, revealing her rich, white breasts, and shoves them into the girl's face. Hermione obliges, and tries to provide as much pleasure as she can, because it seems that pleasure is her captor's weakest point.

In a few moment the older witch is breathing heavily. She removes her gown completely, revealing an admittedly gorgeous, sensual body, and then she grabs Hermione's hair and pushes the student's head between her milky thighs.

There's no pain anymore, the young girl notices.

Day Twenty-one

"Please Mistress, will you grant some of your time to your unworthy hostage?" Hermione begs heatedly and yet allowing the slightest bit of a smirk on her face, having learned just how to pull Mrs Lestrange's strings. And for all that it is quite crude, and definitely cheesy, it works.

Once again, there is less pain than usual. More sex, more forceful intimacy, but less pain nonetheless.

Day Twenty-two

Bellatrix is back from a particularly vicious fight this time, it seems. Her gown is ripped in a few places and drenched in dark blood. And for the first time, Hermione feels genuine concern. Now that she has achieved so much with that witch, she wouldn't want to suddenly be transfered under the care of some other Death Eater, she rationalizes the emotion. It would be such a waste of hard work.

The dark witch takes it all out on Hermione, of course. She stabs the young, nude body with a screwdriver, erasing the wounds as she goes. Pain without traces seems to be her fetish. Blood without an apparent source. Screams without scars.

She also casts a very powerful Cruciatus curse, and the incantation echoes inside the fairly empty mansion. This will be a nasty one, Hermione observes as the first wave of pain hits her. Then she doesn't observe anything at all. She simply screams.

The Cruciatus seems to last for ages. Longer than ever before. The young girl digs her own nails deep into her thighs, and she pees herself, too. She screeches and cries and whimpers, until she realises she is probably going to die, or lose her mind permanently, like the Longbottoms.

It is only then that Bellatrix stops. Her eyes are wild, but also strangely sorrowful. She leans in and gently kisses the shaking girl before walking away. Hermione's nails are still buried inside her soft thighs.

She cries.

Day Twenty-three

Perhaps because of yesterday's smothering brutality, the Death Eater is strangely sweet today. She is humming nursery rhymes and baking a cake, which looks so surreal that the young mudblood cannot believe her own eyes.

She even gives her some of the resulting cake, and it is surprisingly tasty; soft, chocolaty and covered with elegantly placed icing. Then she drags the girl across the corridor and into her private quarters. Hermione has never been there before, and she marvels at the beauty of the large, heavily decorated room. Even the skulls and other creepy objects look sophisticated and charming in this context.

"Pretty, huh?" Bellatrix exclaims happily.

"Yes..." Hermione replies breathlessly. Her tormentor is taking her to her own private room, she realizes, and a strange excitement overwhelms her. It's working. She is winning the older woman over. Bellatrix pushes the skinny girl into her large, soft bed. Moments later she is bound to the four bedposts, her body spread open, vulnerable.

"Please Mistress, I beg you, don't have me waiting," Hermione murmurs, and the magic words work like a miracle. The dark witch immediately flushes with lust, a storm brewing behind her dark, heavy eyes. First comes the whip. Then there are fingers and teeth, and quite some blood. And then comes wax. Some kisses too, savage and painful and deeply intimate.

But when Bellatrix fully undresses and places her magnificent body against Hermione's bloodied flesh, the girl's resulting moan is genuine. For the first time. And it is then that she also, finally, notices that her captor is indeed an extremely attractive woman. Not disinterestedly, this time.

The little mudblood had not known, up to that moment in time, that witches use bedroom toys well, albeit magical versions, that behave more like an animated limbs rather than mere objects. She finds out while Bellatrix is ravaging her, wildly and brutally. Tirelessly, too.

After a while Hermione notices, not without some horror, that she is actually aroused, the physical reality of pleasure too intense to deny. Her whimpers are real.

"Please, more..." she whispers, and she is not sure whether she is actually acting anymore.

"I'll have you climax, and then enjoy witnessing your guilt and shame," Bellatrix murmurs into her ear, and the girl closes her eyes.

Indeed, she eventually reaches an orgasm, the first one ever given to her by another person. And indeed, there are tears of shame in her honey-coloured eyes, and indeed she feels guilty for having enjoyed being abused by the killer of her best friend's godfather. By a Death Eater, for Merlin's sake. The lines between hypocrisy and submission are blurring.

Bellatrix's crystalline laughter echoes in the luxurious room.

Day Twenty-four to Day Thirty-one

Food. Pain. Witty remarks. Sex. Madness.

It becomes a routine, and Hermione slowly finds herself getting used to Bellatrix Lestrange in a way that she had not allowed herself before. She sleeps on the floor next to Bellatrix's bed now, like an actual animal of company. They talk more often, too. About politics, philosophy, pain, desire. Sometimes even about the war, or about food.

Bellatrix is surprisingly intelligent, and the young prodigy finds herself enjoying their venomous conversations and their sharp verbal conflicts.

"Why do you let people believe you are simply insane when you are actually so observant and clever?" she asks her captor at some point. And she is not actually sucking up to Lestrange. She is inquiring this out of pure, unfeigned curiosity.

"It's obvious, muddy puppy," Bellatrix tells her, voice dripping with poisonous affection. "Why would I correct them? I would then have to explain to them why I nonetheless choose to live a life full of violence, conflict and pain. I would have to explain why danger and cruelty invigorate me. Why destruction arouses me. It would be tedious, and I highly doubt any of them would understand, anyway."

"You enjoy risking your own life, then?" Hermione asks.

"Yes," the dark witch replies honestly. The simplicity of her answer leaves the girl wordless.

Day Thirty-two

Bellatrix is an impossibly demanding lover, and does not reach orgasm easily at all. She has had much too much pain and pleasure in her life. She is numb with it. She is jaded, and worn. Dulled. So when the young girl manages to make her climax for the first time, she is amazed by the beauty of the pallid body trembling, of the witch's hands gripping Hermione's head so needily, and the black mane of hair being passionately thrown back.

The Death Eater, too, is somewhat surprised at the ferocity of her own orgasm, and when it finally fades, she looks down at her hostage with disoriented disbelief. Hermione guesses she hasn't felt this for a long, long time.

And yet, the combination of the young girl's submissive attitude, her eager adoration and her sweet tears seems to have done it for Bellatrix. But what has probably done it above all, is Hermione's receptiveness to pain. She only has to dig her teeth into the girl's soft flesh to get a long, aroused moan. It is exquisite. Lovely.

The student has not thought of Ron or Harry for a long time. Her life now revolves around Bellatrix. Pleasing her while pulling her strings. Submitting to her while manipulating her. All her thoughts reel around this process, this game. Deep inside her, she is not finding this arrangement of theirs that unpleasant. But she refuses to admit this to herself. It's a taboo thought, and when her mind dares to tiptoe near it, she shuts everything down, flooded by waves of shame and guilt and self-hatred.

"I am doing all of this to stay alive, to avoid the heavy physical torture and the Cruciatus curses," Hermione tells Hermione. "It's all an act. All of it, every little part. I am simply trying to find a way to control my captor," she adds. But in the darkest depths of herself, Hermione is not fully convinced anymore.

Day Thirty-three to Thirty-eight

Bellatrix does not appreciate the aesthetic value of the old, rusty chain around her prisoner's neck. She offers her a heavily decorated silver collar instead, charmed to be unbreakable, with a strong silver chain hanging from it. And it is as she clasps it around the young girl's ready neck that she realises she doesn't want her Lord's plan to work. She doesn't want anyone to rescue the mudgirl. The mudgirl is hers.

The thought is traitorous, and Voldemort would make her pay for having put her personal interest above his success. But the war is fierce and endless, and the Dark Lord is far too busy to bother with reading her mind all that often. Another good thing about war, Bellatrix muses. You can get away with anything during a war.

The girl is lying on the floor, her face exhibiting both fear and lust. The Death Eater places her long heel between the girl's legs, and pushes it in. Hermione gasps, her cheeks red and her lips parted.

She is gorgeous, Bellatrix observes, a fierce possessiveness ripping though her gut like a sharp and violent gust of wind.

Innocent but corrupted, nimble-minded but naïve, filthy but pure.

She is mine.

Day Thirthy-nine

"Do you not have any ethical values at all?" Hermione asks the woman at some point in their conversation.

"I don't believe in the concept of ethical values. Such rules a merely a by-product of our biological evolution. Rules created when they were still necessary for humankind to survive as a species. They can be shed, like our biological ancestors shed their tails," Bellatrix replies eloquently, and the young girl can barely believe such words to be coming out of a mad murderer's sensual, full lips.

"So then you do not think that, for example, compassion is a natural instinct and a survival tool of our species, and that not having any makes you inherently problematic, from an evolutionary point of view?" Hermione continues.

"You are very stupid for a prodigy, mudgirl. Of course a lack of ethical rules is a disorder within the frame of the current state of our species. But so was the lack of fur when we were still apes, and when giraffes still had short necks, the first one to mutate would have been considered a monster," the Death Eaters notes. Her victim and lover seems amused.

"So you believe yourself to be transcending humanity, Mistress?" she questions, disbelievingly. She tries not to smile.

"Well, wizardkind is definitely an evolved species compared to mankind in general. However, in order for this step of the evolutionary process to be complete, the evolved human form, the magical human, must eradicate his biological ancestor. Social compassion might have been a necessity to human survival, seeing as muggles are otherwise so helpless in the cruel arena of natural selection, but the wizard, whose magical power offers him a huge advantage to begin with, can safely dispose of compassion and still win the game of evolutionary dominance."

"Intelligent sounding non-sense. Absolute non-sense, wrapped up with fancy words," Hermione replies, completely unconvinced, and shakes her head with finality.

"I know. But it's you who wanted a serious coversation, and I tried to kindly oblige. The truth is that I have no good arguments behind my behaviour. I simply do as I please," the dark witch tells her and then she giggles. The young girl leans in and kisses her with true fondness. Bellatrix is taken aback at first, but then she kisses back with dark hunger, but not without equal affection.

This night, for the first time, they both fall asleep in the bed, Hermione's chain in her captor's hand.

Day Fourty

When Bellatrix rushes into the master bedroom looking truly alarmed, Hermione is instantly worried. They stare at each other for a long moment, and then the older woman squints a little, and grins with strange, sharp bitterness.

"The war. I haven't told you, but the Dark Lord was defeated a few days ago. It was only a matter of time before the Aurors found us," she states. Hermione notices that she doesn't say "found me". She says "found us". A strange sense of sorrow fills her heart.

"How many are there? We could try to escape. We are both fairly skilled witches, and if you give me my wand..." Hermione finally says. She does not have the time to think about why she seems to prefer running away with her sadistic captor to being rescued. She just knows she does. Bellatrix looks a little bit surprised at the girl's words, moved even.

It's the first time Hermione ever sees her moved.

"It's good to know you'd come with me, pet. But according to my wards, there's twelve of them. Even if I were to give you your wand, escape would be impossible. I'd rather have a splendid fight to death right here, in my house. I bet I can take down at least five of them before I die," she replies and chuckles. She actually chuckles. She does not look scared, or nervous. Hermione suddenly wants to cry, but she says nothing.

Instead she walks to Bellatrix and kisses her. The dark witch pulls the girl by her chain and deepends the kiss. Their lips crash heatedly, with desperation, with need. And while their mouths are still mangled, tears start to fall from Hermione's eyes. Then, somewhere downstairs, a door crushes, and a ward is broken.

The young girl pulls her chain our of the Death Eater's hands and rushes downstairs like a bullet, leaving a wide eyed Bellatrix behind. She runs past the living room, past the mahogany table and the French 18th century chairs, past the entrance halls, all the way to the front door, her eyes still wet with freshly shed tears.

She rushes towards the Aurors, who stand just behind the door, wands drawn, robes billowing, faces grim and decisive.

"Listen to me before you do anything, please!" she yells at them with despair, and positions her body in front of them, arms wide open. One of them immediately casts a few diagnostic spells on her, his brow creased in concern.

"She is.. not under the Imperius," he mutters a little surprised. They cast another few spells, and deduce that she is neither under the influence of a Confudus, nor under a mind controlling potion. They stare at her, expecting her to somehow explain, and she does.

"Bellatrix Lestrange saved my life. She looked after me. Fed me. Kept me safe. It is not as it seems. Please, give her a fair trial. I beg you," she whispers, trying her best to be convincing. She has had a lot of time to hone her acting skills, and thus it seems to work well. For a moment, however, the Aurors say nothing, and they only stare at the naked girl uncomfortably. Hermione had completely forgotten about her lack of clothing. It had not been significant for a very long time.

Bellatrix shows up, and starts walking down the stairs slowly, waving her hips and causing her exquisite robes to float around her perfect form. She looks beautiful, savage and fearless. Immediately the Aurors tense up, and they point their wands at her, wary and alert.

"No!" Hermione wails miserably. "Please!"

The Aurors stare at the young girl, and then the leisurely descending Death Eater, unsure. In the end, one of them speaks, in a loud, clear, steady voice.

"Bellatrix Lestrange. Give us your wand without a fight, and we will try our best to ensure that, unlike most Death Eaters, you do not get executed without a trial," he says. Bellatrix giggles, and immediately the Aurors point their wands at her again, hatefully.

The tension in the entrance hall of the aristocratic Lestrange mansion condenses into a deafening silence.

"Please Bella, give them your wand. Do it for me," Hermione suddenly mumbles, breaking the stillness, turning around to stare at the dark-haired woman. She has never used the abbreviated version if her name before. She has never used her given name at all, for that matter, and it leaves a strange taste in her mouth, a taste of simultaneous rightness and wrongness. But this is the last chance.

Bellatrix Lestrange freezes at the girl's words.

She looks down at the deceptively fragile-looking creature, the beautiful young woman she has done so much to, and strangely, she sees only raw concern. She doesn't understand. But after all the pain, and after all she as brutally taken away from the little mudblood, perhaps Hermione has earned the right to call her Bella. To beg for a favor. The Death Eater's face softens...

And she throws her wand away nonchalantly towards a dozen of astonished Aurors.

Day Fourty-seven

Bellatrix does, indeed, get a trial. Harry Potter, who loves Hermione like a sister, does his best to use his influence in order to ensure that. Being Voldemort's vanquisher, the crowds are willing to accept his every whim. So when he demands that his best friend's saviour is given a fair trial, his demand is accepted smoothly.

Hermione herself becomes a war-hero. Her genius is mentioned in all newspapers. They all speak of the brave prodigy kid who got caught by Death Eaters but refused to give out any information, they all write about her amazing grades, her knowledge, and they all acknowledge her part in Harry's various exploits throughout the years. Not much is written about the days spent with Bellatrix Lestrange, though. The only thing mentioned is what Hermione herself has stated; her well-crafted lies.

"I owe this woman a life-debt. She understood her mistakes before the end, and fought tooth and nail against her mental illness in order to keep me safe."

Harry doesn't put any pressure on Hermione to explain to him why she so desperately wants Lestrange to get away with multiple murders. Even though he fervently hates her and probably wishes her dead, he loves Hermione more, and accepts her explanation. He accepts that Bellatrix was mentally deranged, that she commited her crimes under the influence of her insanity, and that in her few moments of lucidity she saved Hermione's life.

Ron doesn't believe any of it. He loves Hermione, too. But not like a brother. He loves her like a possessive, passionate lover, and he wants to know everything. Hermione is no longer attracted to him, but she gives in to his advances nonetheless, if only to keep him as an ally. As soon as she is in his bed -and she is no longer ashamed of using her body as a means to an end- he stops complaining about the Bellatrix issue. Hermione is relieved.

Bellatrix Lestrange, following her mudgirl's advice, pleads not guilty by reason of insanity.

She talks about the voice of Voldemort shouting commands inside her mind, she cries in court. Between sobs, she talks about her horrible childhood within the twisted, oppressive pureblood circles, about how her path had been decided for her before she could even understand the meaning of her choices, and with the general climate being so fervently against the cruel realities of pureblood high society, her words touch the audience, and her self-victimization is accepted. She, too, was just a helpless pawn in this horrid, perverted social circle, the poor woman; what could she have done other than exactly what she had been conditioned from her earliest childhood to do, mentally incapacitated as she was?

She is amazingly cunning, and a very talented manipulator, Hermione thinks almost too fondly.

She talks about how Hermione managed to wake her up from her tyrannical delusions using her amazing intellect, and about how she tried to protect the girl from the other Death Eaters by looking over her herself. Harry Potter, who after Dumbledore's and Snape's death is perhaps the only person with a decent grasp of Occlumency and Legillimency, alters a few of her memories so she can present them to court. He doesn't judge Hermione about what he sees is Bellatrix' head. Rumours about him and Draco Malfoy are beginning to circulate widely, anyway. He is not in a position to judge.

The dark witch talks of her terrible nightmares, of her hallucinations. She talks of another personality of hers, the evil killer put inside her head by Voldemort, she mewls with depair. She shrieks in court, and shakes. No one dares to question her evident insanity. She was widely known to be mad long before she was caught, after all. Only Hermione has seen behind the wall of madness. Only Hermione knows who this woman really is, and she keeps this information burried deep inside, like a precious little secret.

And it is thus that Mrs Lestrange successfully avoids both Azkaban, and the dreaded Kiss.

Instead, she is sentenced to a lifetime in the mental wards of St Mungo's.

Day A thousand, two hundred and seventy-four

Ron loves Hermione above everything else, and when she accepts his marriage proposal, he is lost in a river of bliss. She is intelligent, talented, beautiful. His parents, Molly and Arthur, love her like a daughter. She is caring, gentle, supportive. She helps him with all his endeavours, she is there for him whenever her advice is needed. He doesn't mind her need to visit Bellatrix Lestrange every Friday. He doesn't question it anymore. It does not interfere with his selfish little routine of happiness.

But Hermione's happiness is not with Ron. He is weak in her eyes, and frail, and simple, and so painfully mild. There is no hidden passion in his soul, no darkness and enrapturing complexity, no challenge. And the sex is also simple, uneventful, grey, pitiably honest, like Ron himself. Without the pain, without the aching, without the lovely power games, without the despair and the venom, love-making means nothing to her. After Bellatrix, everything feels... meek.

Hermione's happiness is called Friday.

Friday means Bellatrix's sensuality, her sharp albeit skewed wit, her aura of dominance, her passion, her entrancing, destructive fire.

Today is Friday, and Hermione enters the mental wards, a small smile on her face. The nurses and Healers all know her, and they do not judge her weekly visits, her need to spend a few hours with her saviour and captor. They occasionally inform her that she might be suffering from the "Stockholm Syndrome", though, and that perhaps she should try to speak of her experiences with a Mind Healer. She refuses gently, but does not correct them. In fact, she does not know whether they are actually right or not, diagnosing her condition as a case of the infamous "Stockholm Syndrome".

Maybe that's what it is. She is still quite capable of sharp, rational thought, and she knows that it is more than likely her attachment to her captor was birthed as a defensive/coping mechanism, a reaction to cruel abuse, a means to justify her pain, perhaps an internalization of the maltreatment she received, a survival tool.

And maybe she doesn't care.

"Hello, mudgirl," Bellatrix purrs as Hermione closes the heavy door behind them. Her dark eyes are not hard and cruel; they are thick and warm. The young girl walks up to her and kisses her. The Death Eater, in turn, wraps her arms around the girl and she digs her nails into the slender body, passionately. She bites the soft breasts with fiery need, and pushes her finger into Hermione's mouth.

Two hours later they are both nude, interwined, lying on the floor. There is blood, and there are tears, and both their breaths are laboured, heavy. Hermione's head is rested on her lover's stomach, submissively but possessively, while Bellatrix' long, commanding fingers are still buried in the tangled, messy hair. Hermione smiles, even though she will soon have to take her wand out and clean all this mess, erase the wounds, heal the scars; and then go back to the dull, meaningless world she came from. For now, she smiles.

They can call it whatever they want. The "Stockholm Syndrome", trauma, internalized abuse, sadomasochism. They can even be right.

It does not negate the truth of her personal experience.

She is in love.