Disclaimer: I don't own the characters or places of Harry Potter, they belong to Miss Rowling.

Summary: Hermione sneaks into Malfoy manor to retrieve one of the horcruxes, but she gets more than she bargained for when she gets captured.

Warnings: torture, bondage, whips, AU, post Hogwarts, minor character death

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Lucius glanced up from the letter he'd been writing when he heard muffled shouts in the hallway. Placing his quill back on the desk, he sat back in his chair and waited; he was not disappointed when two of the other Death Eaters burst through the door with a woman struggling between them. Her dark brown hair was disheveled, and she panted heavily as she fought the hold of the guards. Lucius rolled his eyes and waved his hand nonchalantly. One of the Death Eaters, Crabbe he thought, leveled his wand against her temple, and her struggles ceased.

"Now, will someone please explain what is going on?" Lucius drawled as he circled the desk. He stared at the woman's face; she was familiar, but for some reason, he couldn't place her face to a name. Her lips were full and parted slightly as she panted still. Her eyes were as wild as her hair, and he saw the fury lingering on the edges of the chocolate orbs. Her loose clothes were torn in places, possibly from the exchange of curses; they would have to be changed. He wondered if she'd look even lovelier without the blood smudged across her cheek. He glanced at the others as one, definitely Crabbe then, spoke in a low voice.

"Thief, sir. Caught her sneaking."

"Why bring her to me?" Lucius sneered. "Surely, you know what to do with an intruder?" He gestured to the wand against the woman's temple. "But now that you've brought her here, I guess I will have to deal with her." He grabbed the woman's chin and forced her to look at him. He had the fleeting thought to simply claim her mouth with his own, but he held back. "What were you trying to steal, girl?"

She spat at him and gnashed her teeth together in a feral growl. Sighing, he wiped his face on his sleeve before backhanding her hard enough for her head to snap to the side. She groaned and gave him a look filled with wounded pride and anger. "Malfoy," she finally bit out. "As if you don't know what I'm after. Where are you hiding it?"

Lucius knew that voice. Who the bloody hell was this woman? Suddenly, it hit him. "Granger," he snarled. What his son wouldn't give to see this little bitch broken at his feet. But no, he wouldn't give the brat the pleasure of breaking her. He'd do it himself. "And why do you think I'd tell you? You have no authority here, Mudblood. You're outnumbered, outmatched, and I don't see Mister Potter rising from the grave to help you any time soon."

"You bastard," Hermione tried to launch herself forward, but the tip of the wand against her throat dug into the soft tissue around her jugular. She stopped and fell back, the fury never dying from her eyes. Lucius had to suppress to the thrill he got from the thought of breaking her completely. He nodded to Crabbe, and a muttered Crucio sent the woman to the ground with a shriek. Before she could regain her wits, he bound her and placed a light sleeping charm over her.

"I will take care of the interrogation from here. Return to your posts," he commanded. As the two scurried out the door, he summoned one of the house elves. The creature was a wretched little beast, but it would do the job well. "Have her bathed and presentable in the inner chambers within the hour." The house elf bobbed its head in understanding, and quickly vanished, taking the woman with him. Lucius smirked to himself and returned to the letter. His Lord would be happy that yet another of the renegades had been captured, and Lucius wondered if he'd be allowed to keep his prize.

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Lucius sauntered down the corridor of the manor, his back straight and his eyes forward. Nothing about his appearance betrayed the inner cruelty he was reveling in. For the past hour, he could think of nothing else but the woman being prepared for him. He had floo-called his Lord after sending the house elf to its duty. Voldemort had been pleased that one of the supposed leaders of the rebellion was finally caught. So pleased in fact, that he had given her over to Lucius as a spoil of the ongoing war.

Lucius entered his rooms and poured a glass of firewhiskey as he glanced at the door on the opposite wall. Unlike the rich décor that dominated the room, the door was simple and almost unnoticed against the tall bookcases beside it. It looked to be nothing more than an extra closet, but Lucius knew better. Beyond it was a room built specifically for his pleasures. Heavy wards just short of the Fidelius charm guarded the room from anyone looking to find it, and he knew it would disappear if his manor were under an auror raid.

As he sipped the drink, he thought of the woman currently locked inside the room. Unless the house elf had removed the sleeping charm, she would be unconscious. He didn't bother to wonder what the elf had dressed her in because he knew it would be better than the rather manly attire she'd been wearing before. He knew only one thing for certain; she would be bound in some way. He had ordered the house elf to prepare her, and that only meant one thing for any woman who entered the inner room. The house elves always managed to surprise him with their almost artistic style of binding people. He still hated them, mind, but at least they did as he asked without question.

Placing the now empty glass on the table, he glanced at himself in the mirror. He knew he was still as handsome as he had been in school; years of war and politics had done nothing to mar his complexion or scar his skin. After a moment, he stepped toward the small chest on the table. Opening it, he took out a black ribbon and skillfully tied back his long hair. The woman, the Mudblood he reminded himself, would be restrained, but if she managed to get a hold on his hair, she could injure him. Following a similar style of thinking, he shed his outer robes and made his shirt and pants more form fitting. Again, he turned to the mirror, and smiled wickedly to himself. Years of war had taken a toll on his body after all, it seemed; his lithe muscles stood out from beneath the silken shirt.

Opening the door, he felt the wards dance across his skin, allowing him entrance. He was surprised to find the lights in the room were dimmed with a single bright light shining down to the center of the room. Kneeling in the shaft of light was Granger, her head bowed in sleep and her arms stretched above her head. The house elf had dressed her simply, and the short, pale blue gown did nothing to hide the gentle curves of the woman's body. The dress didn't cover her arms and was cut about mid-thigh, giving Lucius a preview of the creamy skin beneath. Her ankles were bound to two loops about shoulder width apart, and Lucius knew the binds would allow her to stand if he shortened the ropes above her head.

Moving behind Granger, just outside the ring of light surrounding her, he removed the spell keeping her asleep. She jolted and her head snapped up. For a moment, she did nothing as her eyes swept uselessly into the darkness around her. He watched as she examined the bindings on her wrists, giving them a small tug to test their strength. "I know you're there," she said softly. "You don't live on the run and not learn to tell when someone's watching you."

"How intriguing," Lucius said blandly as he waved his wand to bring up the lights. Hanging on the wall were a few whips, and canes in every style from bamboo rods to something akin to a fencing foil. Numerous restraints and holding devices dotted the room, and Hermione's eyes drifted to a giant cage in the far corner. From there, her eyes drifted to a small bookcase. Lucius followed her gaze and scoffed. "My son always told me you were a bookworm, Granger." Her eyes snapped to his and if he felt surprise at the coldness within her eyes, he didn't show it.

"It's Weasley now," she hissed. Lucius felt his lips tugging into a smirk, and he suppressed it as he stepped closer. When he was directly in front of her, he grasped her chin and forced her to look up into his silvery eyes.

"And why, pray tell, are you taking the name of a corpse? Trying to upgrade your status from Mudblood to Blood-Traitor?" He knew the Weasley's had been taken down, one after the other, nearly three years ago during the first uprisings.

"Bastard," Hermione snapped at him. He only moved away and shortened the ropes above her head until she stood on the balls of her feet. She hadn't made a sound during the transition, but her face showed how concentrated she was on keeping balanced. He allowed her to brood as he examined the varying tools along the wall. As his hand strayed toward a favorite whip, he heard the woman's breath hitch and the chains on the floor rattle ever so slightly. "What are you planning, Malfoy?" she demanded.

Lucius didn't answer her as his hand closed around the handle of the whip. It was one of his favorites, a thick-braided cat-o-nine-tails, and as he pulled it down, the small metal beads braided into the leather glinted in the light. The knots at the end of each braid tapped against his thigh as he strode back toward his captive. He didn't answer her narrow-eyed stare, but moved behind her, watching her twist to keep her eyes on him. When his hands brushed against the material of her dress, she tensed and was about to protest when she felt the tip of a wand on her spine. The sound of ripping fabric permeated the silence until her dress hung open, held up only because her arms were above her head.

"Don't you dare," she hissed. "I'll get loose; I won't hesitate to kill you and the scum outside." He only chuckled darkly as he moved her hair away from her back.

"Then, I won't give you a chance to escape," Lucius said evenly. He raised the cat-o-nine-tails and brought it down swiftly, eliciting a small cry from Hermione. She recovered quickly, a low growl as she tried to escape the fate Lucius had in mind. But it was useless, the ropes above her were taught and would not give, and her footing was unsteady at best. Her struggling only brought the slender pink welts along her back into the light. Lucius could not withhold the smirk as he brought the whip down a second time, in a cross-hatching pattern. The metal beads dug into her flesh and small cuts appeared along the grooves of the blooming welts. But she had remained silent this time. Lucius glanced at the tension in her back and arms and knew she had probably drawn blood from biting into her tongue or cheek to remain silent. That wouldn't do at all.

He brought the whip down again, parallel to the first blow, and watched as the skin reddened and threatened to crack. Again, she remained silent, despite the pain she was obviously in. Scowling, he tightened his grip on the handle and brought the cat-o-nine-tails down harder, breaking the skin in thin lines along her shoulder blade. This time, she gave a small whine of pain, and he smirked. She was not used to pain, despite the battles of which she had obviously taken part; she would break quickly. He continued the cross-hatching pattern until she finally screamed in earnest. Even then, he continued with less force until she chokingly begged him to stop without him having to prompt her to do so.

Hermione's back was a mess of pink and red lines, some slowly oozing blood that pooled along the edges of the raised welts. She was breathing heavily, and her eyes were squeezed shut. Lucius could see the sheen of tears and sweat on her cheeks and he felt the unbidden urge to wipe away the tears and soothe her. Shaking his head, he reached out and ran his hand along one of the longer welts. He felt her tense beneath his hand, but when he didn't jam his fingers into her open wounds, she relaxed a little. "Heartless bastard," she hissed at him.

"You should thank me, Mudblood. I was… merciful in your punishment," he said as he stepped away again.

"Merciful?" she said incredulously. "You nearly stripped the skin from my back, and I should thank you for being MERCIFUL?" She took a breath to continue, and he placed the now bloodied-braids of the whip against her lips.

"Yes, merciful," he growled. "Had I wanted to, I could have snapped your spine like a twig, crushed your internal organs, and left you to die in agony, Mudblood. But I didn't."

"Why?" she asked. The fire had begun to die from her eyes; she looked world-weary and almost pitiful and she hung limply from her wrists, the tattered dress suspended from her arms. He lowered the whip and raised her chin until her eyes met his.

"Tell me, Granger. In your husband's absence, did you seek comfort from your co-conspirators? Or were you their leader, the last of the Golden Trio, untouchable?"

"Why do you care?" she asked warily. "Want to call me a slut, too?" When she only received an arched eyebrow in response, she sighed and lowered her head. "No one has touched me since Ronald's death. We were on the run. There was no time for comfort, no time for love." She didn't know why she gave him an answer, but the words spilled from her mouth without restraint. "They see me as nothing more than their leader, their last connection to a dead Chosen One. Those who would offer me comfort are pitiful remnants of their former selves."

"Then you have your answer," Lucius said as he cast a cleaning spell on the whip and replaced it on the wall. He felt her questioning eyes follow him as he moved about the room. "Why would I want to kill the 'pitiful remnants' of my opponent when it is obvious they are no longer a threat?"

"Because even a wounded dog can bite," Hermione said bitterly. Lucius actually blinked and turned to stare at her. "I know what I am in the eyes of the new society. I'm a stain that blemishes the magical bloodlines. Did you think me stupid, Malfoy? Do you think I don't understand the whispers, even amongst my allies?" Her head was bowed, but the words were louder than the crack of the whip against her skin. For a short time, the only sound in the room was her harsh breathing as he decided what he would do with her now. Originally, he meant to break her until she was as obedient as his house elves. Now, with her words still ringing in his ears, he was uncertain for the first time since she'd been brought to his office.

"Finally decided to kill me, Malfoy?" Even to his ears, the words lacked their heat and conviction. Withdrawing his wand again, he stunned her and cut the ropes, letting her crumple to the floor. Snapping his fingers, he heard a house elf pop into existence at the edge of the room. "Bippy be helping you, Master?"

"Get her clothing and clean the wounds, then restrain her for the night," he commanded as he swept from the room. He had meant to break her, but something about her intrigued him. He would watch her and derive just what it was that kept her going, even in a world so hell-bent against her. He fished the firewhiskey from his cabinet and took a swig directly from the bottle.

"Is the Granger girl a smear of blood on the wall yet, Lucius?" a voice said from behind him. Lucius choked on the whisky in his mouth and spun to see someone standing in the doorway. Placing the bottle back on the cabinet shelf, he strode forward until he was mere feet from his visitor.

"How is that any of your business, Severus?"

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A/N: Oh, I threw a wrench into Lucius's plans. Blame the muses. Ideas, critiques, feelings on this chapter? Post them in the reviews.