A/N: This one's a bit darker and less lighthearted than the others. It occurred to me that not much action was going on, despite the fact that they're in the middle of a WAR, so I came up with this little plot. It'll become more important later on in both the 'book' and the general story.
A sudden cry of pain echoed throughout the large room. All eyes turned to the source – Hermione was toppled over in her seat, clenching her wrist, crying out with great howls of anguish.
"No! Stop it!" A terrible screech escaped her lips; she shut her eyes tightly, trying to drown out the pain. "I don't know where it is! Please!"
"Hermione!" Harry and Ron stood up at once and knelt by her side; Harry trying to snap her out of it, Ron stroking her head trying to comfort her.
Draco nearly passed out from the wave of panic that settled in his stomach at that moment; it was almost too much to take. He wanted to be by her side as well, but something told him that it would only make it worse.
Narcissa gasped behind her hand and hid her face in her husband's robe, unable to comprehend what was happening.
Lucius observed with no remorse, though he was a little bewildered at the suddenness of events, and he held his wife tightly.
Blaise was frowning deeply at the sight, occasionally turning to pat Draco on the back, knowing it was probably hurting him a lot just to witness the scene.
"Hermione!" Ron shouted, this time, successfully breaking her out of her trance.
She opened her brown eyes; watery and wide. "I was there…" Her broken voice spluttered, thick with emotion.
"Where?" Harry asked, his voice calming, though inside he was a nervous wreck. They'd been so busy with the book; they'd nearly forgotten the war. What if this was Voldemort's doing? Anger swelled in his gut at just the idea.
"Harry," Ron paled, "Her arm."
Everyone turned to get a glimpse of the girl's arm, which was bleeding deeply. A scar was visible, reading 'mudblood'.
"Just like the book," Harry murmured, horrified. He pulled Hermione into his arms and ran his hands up and down her back, soothingly. "It's going to be okay, Hermione, just hang in there."
"I – I saw her!" Hermione sobbed into her best friend's shoulder, the sting of the scar still burning terribly. "B-Bellatrix, she wanted to know where the sword was, Harry!"
Harry grimaced at Ron over her shoulder but continued soothing his distressed friend. He pulled away and demanded that someone conjure up some bandages, Narcissa complied, a sinking feeling present in her face as she recognized the name of her eldest sister.
"Allow me," Narcissa said, standing up and walking over to Hermione's shaking frame. She smiled comfortingly, albeit a little nervously. "I'm just going to apply pressure to stop the bleeding, is that alright?"
Hermione nodded numbly, tear stains streaking her cheeks.
Draco and Blaise watched with displeasure as Narcissa bandaged the wound with great care, each feeling different waves of sickness. It didn't make sense, she'd said she'd been there, but she was with them in the room the whole time…
Once she'd been bandaged up hastily and the bleeding had subsided, Hermione stared at the wrapping, and hugged her knees to her chest. Harry and Ron each had an arm wrapped comfortably around her.
She rocked back and forth in her position, mumbling to herself.
"Is she going to be…?" Blaise bit his lower lip, for the first time it seemed, deadly serious.
"I don't know," Harry answered, eyeing Hermione worriedly, out of the corner of his eye.
Narcissa shook her head, "She's in shock, as I imagine anyone would be. It will wear off in time."
Nobody wanted to ask the question on everyone's mind. What happened? They were too afraid of what the answer might be.
"You were there," Hermione's small voice finally said, looking towards Lucius with disdain. "You were there and you were laughing. I remember because I've never heard you laugh, and it was cold. So…cold," she shivered, and resumed rocking back and forth.
Narcissa frowned deeply at Lucius who looked a bit disturbed.
"The Cruciatus," her tiny, weak voice chimed miserably. "How many times was it…? Three…Four…I can't remember."
Harry cringed at the mention of one of the unforgivables. "Hermione, what exactly happened? Can you tell us?"
"Shove off, mate," Ron glowered, "She's still hurt – "
"No," Hermione said quietly. "I can tell you if you want."
"Please don't." Draco gritted his teeth and clenched his hands into fists. An indescribable amount of anger was pulsing in his veins and he wasn't sure he'd be able to just sit there and hear about her being tortured.
Hermione glanced in his direction before she began sobbing again. This time, Ron held her, while Harry paced the room trying to think of some sort of explanation.
Draco's head pounded at the sound of her crying. He wished that she would stop. She had to stop, he wasn't sure if he could handle it.
"What's going on?" Harry muttered, mostly to himself, but the others were in silent agreement. What was going on?
"Get him away from me!" Hermione sobbed restlessly and held onto Ron more tightly.
"Who?" Ron inquired, though he may or may not have already known.
Hermione's muffled voice sounded. "Malfoy."
"Which one?" Ron attempted to joke, but her water eyes narrowed at him, as she pulled away from his embrace. She stumbled to a corner where she resumed her rocking position.
Ron watched her go before his eyes darted to Lucius. "You fowl git. How could you watch a girl be tortured and laugh?"
"I haven't done anything, Weasley," Lucius remarked, coolly, still a bit disturbed at the mudblood's recollection of events. It was all too strange.
Ron looked as though he'd wanted to throw a few good punches, but Harry stopped him. "He's right, Ron," Harry admitted, though it didn't sound sincere. "We shouldn't fight until we realize what's happened," he shot a pointed glare towards Lucius, with emphasis on until.
There would always be a fight in the end.
"The book," Narcissa gasped softly as it glowed for a moment before it died down in Lucius' grip.
Lucius glanced down and opened to where they'd left off. "It's different than it was before," he commented, uninterestedly.
"What?" Harry's attention snapped to the book. "Let me see," he said hastily stealing it from the elder Malfoy's grasp and running his fingers over the page.
Harry's eyes widened as he read. "Um, guys. I think we should start reading again."
"Not until Hermione is better," Ron snapped.
Harry shook his head at his friend's stubbornness. "No. We need to now. It's alright if she sits this one out - I think it's best she does, actually."
"Why?" Ron questioned, still glancing over in Hermione's direction, where she was still mumbling to herself. "What's so important?"
"Well the chapter title, for one," Harry answered, his lips falling downwards into a frown. ""Veela"."
So he was right in his assumptions, Harry thought, eyeing Draco out of the corner of his eye.
A/N: I hope you didn't mind the slight change in mood. I felt like I needed to add something to really give the story some depth. I'm actually excited about future chapters - like, really excited. :)
Hopefully this will make the story a bit more interesting for you. ^_^ I was hesitant to put this up, mostly because it doesn't contain much humor, but I couldn't help myself. Besides, there will be plenty of laughs to be had in the upcoming chapters, don't you worry.