Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author.
A huge thank you must go to VIVAvivacious for all of her help as my beta for this story.
The silence in the dark, crowded forest was deafening. The trees were thick, with branches that were twisted and gnarled, knobbly in places, all sharp angles with leaves that were browning.
Her heart was practically pounding out of her chest as her feet carried her quickly through the foliage as she ran. It didn't even matter she was getting scratched and cut as she forced her way through – she just needed to get to the clearing. She could see a little light just ahead of her and sped up as much as she could. Breaking through the last of the thick foliage, she stumbled into the clearing right behind the old log cabin she knew would be there. She leaned against it, struggling to catch her breath while attempting to make as little noise as possible.
She could hear shouting and thunder and spells being thrown and crashing against one another from the other side and suppressed a shiver. It was cold, and it had been too long since the last time she had a proper coat to shield her from the elements. Closing her eyes and gritting her teeth, she pushed away from the cabin and started making her way around it slowly. She could see Harry, covered in layers of caked-on dirt and blood, crossing wands with Bellatrix Lestrange. She was scared for him. Bellatrix was the most ruthless of their attackers, and Harry had too many unstable emotions involving her; it would distract him.
Swallowing hard, she pushed off from the cabin and sprinted as fast as she could towards Harry, dodging spells and almost tripping over her own feet at least twice. Her breath was coming hard and fast when she reached Harry's side, and she immediately flicked her wand and wordlessly added strength to the shield that was already in place. Harry offered her a brief but grateful glance before refocusing on Lestrange. She was beginning to weaken from the force of Harry's spells. Hermione nodded her head to indicate she would relieve him and Harry withdrew.
'Harry Potter!' Bellatrix shrieked over the noise. 'Do you dare to withdraw from our duel?'
'Don't you even talk to him, you foul woman,' Hermione shouted, pointing her wand at her and muttering a stinging hex under her breath.
Bellatrix barely flinched at the spell, but it had gotten her attention. Smiling cruelly, she raised her wand to Hermione instead.
'Well, well,' she said, advancing slightly. 'What do we have here? A little Mudblood? Here to protect your boyfriend, are we?'
'Shut your mouth and fight me,' the younger witch said coolly.
'A feisty little thing, aren't you?' Bellatrix taunted. 'Let's see how feisty you are after Crucio!'
Lestrange was fast, but Hermione still had plenty of energy left in her to dodge it. She raised the power of her shield and sent a few slicing hexes towards her opponent, one of them catching Bellatrix across her cheek. They continue throwing hexes at one another until Hermione finally caught her off guard and threw her backwards. The older witch was thrown hard against a tree, knocking her out. Hermione pointed her wand at her leg and muttered a healing spell to close up a bleeding gash, then began to stumble towards the other witch, oblivious to what was happening around her.
She cast a binding charm on Bellatrix, and as soon as the witch was bound by heavy, thick ropes, she turned around to survey the clearing once more. Harry was battling Evan Rosier across the field, and from what she could see, Mad Eye Moody was battling against a Death Eater she did not recognise. Ron was nowhere to be found, and there were just too many people everywhere. Pausing to cast a charm to fortify her weakened leg, she was about to move on when she heard a voice whisper from behind her.
'Imperio,' a deep male voice said clearly.
Hermione felt all semblance of control leave her. She tried to fight against it, but nothing would work. Her wand was still in her hand, but nothing she thought connected with the rest of her. So this was what it was like to be under the control of another. She would have cried if she still had the ability to do so. Her eyes were fuzzy and she could barely see what was in front of her.
'Look at me,' the man commanded.
Hermione felt her body turning to face her attacker. Her eyes were suddenly clear as she looked up into the face of Fenrir Greyback. His eyes were dark, and the smile on his lips was feral. He lifted a hand to her face and grasped her chin with sharp, ragged nails.
'Not bad, for a Mudblood,' he snarled, letting his hand creep to the back of her head so he could use her hair to tug her head back sharply.
She stared at him, unable to blink or scream or rage. If she could have, she would have spat in his face in that moment. He leaned his face closer, and before she knew it, his mouth was pressed against hers and was plundering her mouth with his tongue, practically gagging her with it. When he was finished he pulled back with the most disgusting expression she had ever seen.
'You have a very sweet mouth,' he growled. 'I should like to sample you further, however there are more pressing things to be getting on with.'
Hermione felt his sharp nails dig into her arm as he grasped her bicep. 'Follow me,' he barked out sharply, pulling her along as he walked. Her feet were cooperating with his command, and she followed along helplessly as he dragged her around the forest on the edge of the clearing.
'Listen to me, Mudblood,' Greyback snarled. 'You are to seek out your friend Weasley, and when you do find him, I want you to kill him. Your failure to do so will result in your destruction. Now go.'
Hermione felt her mind slipping away from her as his spell took over her body fully. She felt a dagger being pressed into her boot before Greyback roughly pushed her forward. She tried to fight against it, but her feet kept moving despite all her efforts. She couldn't kill Ron – he was one of her best friends. She loved Ron. Her head hurt from the effort of trying to fight off the Imperius curse, but her body was too tired. She had no more energy to fight, and she knew if she did kill Ron, she would never be able to live with herself.
Her pace quickened, and soon her pulse did too as she rounded a corner and saw Ron just at the edge of the clearing, battling Lucius Malfoy. Her feet stopped and she felt a strange, eerie silence come over the clearing as Malfoy managed to disarm Ron. Her arm rose, and soon her wand was pressed between Ron's shoulder blades. She pushed against the spell, but all it achieved was for the tears she wanted to cry to come spilling forth from her eyes.
Ron spun around to face her and looked at her in horror. 'Hermione, what's wrong with your eyes?' he asked in a panic.
'Do not speak, filthy blood traitor,' Hermione's voice said, even as she tried to prevent the words from slipping out of her mouth.
'Hermione, quit it, will you? You're really starting to scare me,' Ron stammered as he began backing away from her.
'You are not worthy to call yourself a wizard,' the voice said again. 'You are filth – consorting with Muggles and Mudbloods alike. Prepare to meet your end, son of Arthur Weasley.'
'Hermione! What are you doing?' Harry yelled as he began limping towards the scene from the other side of the clearing.
Mad Eye Moody also began to make his way towards them, but all Hermione could see was Ron through the haze surrounding her. Her wand arm was still raised towards him, and she could feel her magic thrumming through her veins, all surging towards her right arm and into her wand.
'Hermione, please wake up! You don't know what you're doing,' Ron said. 'Expelliarmus.'
Hermione's wand cut through the air in front of her, and she blocked the spell, sending it back at Ron, whose wand flew out of his hand and landed on the ground a few feet away from him. His blue eyes were filled with a fear that broke her heart. She knew, even before she said it, the spell that would end his life was at the very tip of her tongue. Without knowing how it had gotten into her hand, Hermione could see the dagger that had been in her boot. In a second, it was flying through the air towards her friend.
It never met its target.
The knife was deflected by someone out of her line of vision and spun away. She could hear Greyback growling from the back of her head for the first time since he had taken her over. It was the most sickening sensation she had ever felt. Suddenly, a surge of power was released from the end of her wand and the blast send everyone nearby flying backwards, save for herself and Ron.
'Avada Kedavra!' her voice roared, the green light spewing from the end of her wand and hitting Ron dead in the centre of his chest, throwing him backwards.
The blood was pounding in her ears, and everything suddenly felt like it was going in slow motion. Everyone was moving so slowly around her, and as she whipped her head around to see, there were many people heading right towards her. Before anyone could reach her, however, she felt Greyback slipping out of her mind, and her body was suddenly her own again. Her legs felt numb, and as she slipped to the ground, she prayed to God that whoever got to her first would end her life swiftly.
But not a single spell was flung her way, and she looked up from her spot on the dirt and grass to see a black-clothed figure standing before her, blocking her from the view of everyone else. Her head was throbbing, and she closed her eyes to take a breath so she could focus on what was being said.
'– she was not in control of herself!' a deep, resonant voice shouted above all the arguments.
'How the hell would you know?'
'Did you see the girl's eyes? Surely Mad Eye, even you know what it looks like when a person is under the Imperius curse,' the man with the deep voice shouted again.
'I saw her eyes,' said another male voice. Hermione recognised it as Harry's. 'Snape's right. Hermione was under Imperius. I saw Viktor Krum's eyes back in my fourth year. They were just like that.'
'It doesn't matter. We'll have to take the girl to the Ministry for questioning, and the sooner the better,' Mad Eye insisted gruffly.
'You won't be taking the girl anywhere near that place until she's been looked over by a trained medical professional,' the voice that she now knew belonged to Snape said firmly. 'I am taking her to Hogwarts to see Poppy Pomfrey. You lot can stay here and work out which Death Eaters managed to escape in the confusion.'
'Please take care of her, Professor,' Harry said softly, stepping around the Snape to crouch down beside Hermione, who was still collapsed on the ground. 'Hermione? Are you okay?'
Hermione's eyes snapped to his and she could feel hot tears slipping from them when she blinked in response. She looked back up to Snape, who was now facing her. His face was blank, but he leaned down and scooped her up into his arms, and she could see a strange emotion in his eyes that told her he was not indifferent to the situation. Harry reached out and brushed a tear from her cheek before Snape turned on his heel and strode towards the other side of the clearing.
'Miss Granger?' he asked quietly.
She looked up from the spot where her head was cradled against his chest and saw a question in his eyes. She shook her head, unable to speak even now that she had the ability to do so on her own. Her eyelids were heavy, and as she felt herself slipping into unconsciousness; the only thing that she could see were Ron's scared blue eyes the moment before she had ended his life.
A/N – This is my first attempt at a Dark!Hermione, so please be gentle.