The characters and canon situations in the following story belong solely to JK Rowling, Scholastic and WB. I am not making any money from the publishing or writing of this story.

Atonement

"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad." Aldous Huxley

His cold gray eyes slowly took in his surroundings, missing nothing. The minister sat up behind the strong stone pulpit, his sense of fairness and justice radiating out through the room, but didn't touch him. The members of the Wizenagamot sat primly in their deep maroon robes, some meeting his glance, but others were still too afraid of him, of the man he used to be.

The room was crowded, not that he was surprised, it wasn't everyday that something like this happened in their world. It was an event that was not likely to happen again. The crowd relished was about to happen, the downfall of the great Lucius Malfoy. But, it was so much more that that. To them, it was an end to a war, a fitting finish to a culture and class that had ruled for generations.

He sighed and lifted his head in defiance. They would never bring him low. He would never beg before them, never sully his knees asking for their forgiveness. There was only one that he would make that exception for, his being here was proof of that.

After everything that he had done to her, every sin that he had committed against her, this was all that she had asked of him. It was a high price, but for her, he would pay it, he had no choice. To not do so would be to live with the thought of her for the remainder of his life.

He didn't regret what he had done and he couldn't say that he was a better man. Different, perhaps, but not better. She didn't change his beliefs or make him rethink his whole life as that was only for fairy tales and he was definitely no prince. She had merely caused him to make an exception to the rule. Her.

As the minister brought the court to order, his thoughts drifted away from the damp room that he was in.

He could still remember the way she looked when she was dumped, rather harshly, onto the carpet of his sitting room. Her honeyed curls were tangled and knotted around her tear stained face. He thought that she would be terrified, that she would immediately beg for her life but then she had always been a mystery to him. She had sat there, her bloodied hands holding up her equally bloodied body. Tears rolled down her cheeks, but they were not from fear. They had burst forth from her, showing the hate that raged within her.

She never cracked, even as his demented sister in law threw every vile curse that he knew of at her. Of course she screamed, it would be impossible not to do so. She cried out for her torturers to stop, but they pushed on, waiting for the moment that she would slip. Her body was broken then healed, burned then cooled, sliced then stitched. It was an endless cycle of death and rebirth but still she didn't crack.

Her eyes, those wise, soulful whiskey eyes had decided to lock on him. They begged him silently to end this, to show her a bit of mercy and take her from the pain. He sneered but had held her gaze, ice and fire meeting in the middle. He knew that she hated him, that he would never help, but in a way, he did. He kept her eyes focused on him, not allowing her to watch what was happening to her young body, silently giving her courage even though at the time he didn't know he was.

When the Dark Lord had finally arrived, Potter and the Weasley boy had already escaped, not able to take their wounded friend with them. The rage, therefore, was taken out on the girl at his feet.

He remembered seeing her blood on his shoes, a bright red drip that had mixed with the mud on his shoes. He vaguely recalled thinking that it was fitting because after all, that's what she was, a mudblood.

As if knowing his thoughts, her gaze finally fell from his. The sobs had ceased to rack her body and she sat up on her knees even though he knew that it must have been horribly painful. She looked the Dark Lord in the eye and laid her hands out before her. She had accepted her fate with a calm serenity that couldn't be faked and Lucius knew that she was certain that death had finally come for her.

The only thing that she had said throughout the ordeal came near the end. The Dark Lord had his wand fixed on the girl and was ready to deliver the curse that would replace the amber in her eyes to a haunting shade of green. The Dark Lord had asked the mudblood if she was ready to die. If she was ready to pay the price for thinking that she belonged in their world. She had spoken quietly, but was still loud enough to be heard.

He could still recall the faint tone in which she delivered her message. Her voice didn't shake or tremble. She spoke clearly and without a hint of fear. She simply said her name. Hermione Granger.

The Dark Lord had laughed and then sealed her fate, along with his.

He didn't tug at the leather straps that held him secure to the chair. They were mildly uncomfortable, but it would be beneath him to buck against them. He would not be weak. He would not give them the joy of seeing him struggle with his situation. He was a Malfoy and regardless of this judgment, they could not take that from him. He would always wear his dignity.

His eyes fell to the other prisoners in their striped garb and smiled, not to give them courage but to himself. He would never debase himself to be like them. Where they had given in, he had fought, until the very end.

He would love to admit that when it came down to it that he was fighting for himself and his family, but that wasn't true. He had only pushed on to have one more glimpse of her. In those moments before he was captured his single goal had been to see her face in the hope that she was finally dead or ready to give him the peace that he longed for.

It wasn't an easy life, the one of a pure blooded aristocrat, but he thought he had borne it well. He held himself to the highest standards of society and familial expectations. He carried himself with the dignity and respect that his station demanded. He held himself aloof and championed his way of life, regardless of the consequences.

It was unfair, he supposed, that all he had fought for had resulted in this. Of course she would disagree. She would tell him, if she could, that he deserved everything that he got.

His wife and son had sat in the seat that he now occupied. Draco had sat here first. His hands had gripped the wooden arms of the chair until his knuckles turned white. Lucius had been able to see his only son's body quake with fear as his sentence was read. Ten years for attempted murder. Forty for the murder and torture of prisoners within the Manor. Fifty years altogether for his son and Lucius knew that the boy would never survive it. He was dragged, screaming, to the other end of the courtroom to be placed with the others awaiting transport to prison.

He had watched Narcissa in all her cold beauty break down into hysterics as her judgment had been delivered. One act of mercy, that naturally suited her ends, had freed her from the fate that he was sure to suffer. Her wand had been returned to her and she instantly transformed her torn rags into a proper gown of ice blue that matched her equally frozen eyes. She spared not a glance for her husband, but turned back to the court and begged mercy for her son.

There had been a short recess and Lucius had watched as his wife tapped her shoe impatiently on the dark stone. Minutes later, the Minister, along with Harry Potter, had returned to the room. His son was freed of all charges, but banished, never to return, from all territories and countries under the ministries control.

His son was turned over to his wife and they instantly left the room, surrounded by Aurors. He was alone.

When the minister began to list of his crimes, his mind retreated to when he finally began to unravel the mystery that was her.

He remembered the cold of his dungeons the most. It was the kind of cold that seeped into your bones. A frozen chill that was capable of lulling you into a slow death if you let it. He had of course been well prepared for his trip down into the hell that his home provided. His robes, though slightly frayed at the cuffs from his constant dodging of curses, were still of the finest quality wool. The collar was still a thick, luxurious fur and it, along with the leather gloves protected him from the lethal environment. He couldn't say the same for her.

Her battered body was leaned against the stone wall and she was slumped over. Her wrists were at her sides and her legs were stretched out in front of her. The sweater and denims that she had worn when she first arrived had been replaced with a sleeveless tunic that looked like it was made from a sack. What really spurred him on though was her hair. Those riotous ringlets had been shorn from her waist to her neck so that every tear could be seen by those above her.

He remembered the thrill of happiness that had leaked through his whiskey sodden mind at the thought of someone suffering more than he was. He delighted that his misery was shared. His home had been taken over by his social inferiors and all sorts of filth and trash had been dragged through his ancestral halls.

She didn't flinch or cower away when he had finally unlocked the iron bars that completed her cage. She simply watched him, much as she had done that first night. The only difference being that her tears were gone and in their place a small, sad smile.

As he had stepped into the cell, he remembered that she struggled to stand. Her small hand was placed on the wet stone to brace herself as her legs rebelled and threatened to give out on her. She pushed through it though and held herself up as if she was his equal.

He could still feel her soft skin under his palm as he struck her back down, having removed his glove first.

She didn't cry out, didn't even try to bring her hand up to soothe away the sting. She merely removed all trace of emotion from her petite face and politely called out an evening greeting to him. He had conjured a chair and placed it in the corner of the cell. A warming spell was cast around him and he began to ask her questions to which she answered him with silence. In return, he maliciously lowered the temperature in the cell and bade her a good night before turning the key in the lock behind him.

As he had walked up the stairs, he looked at his hand. On his ring, the Malfoy family ring, was a streak of blood. Her blood. It shone brightly against the dark metal and even brighter when he smeared it from his ring and looked at it on the pad of his thumb. It struck him that his blood was flowing underneath of it. He remembered that as he left he could hear her faint voice chanting in a constant rhythm. Hermione Granger.

He didn't miss a beat as the minister asked him how he plead. He held his head high and straight. His body didn't betray his emotions, not that he was feeling any at this particular moment anyway.

As each crime was listed he answered in the proud tone that had been instilled into his very makeup before he could even string together a sentence. His gaze though, was searching through the crowds, looking for even just a short glimpse of honeyed curls.

He knew that his confession and subsequent punishment was the only way to set things straight with her, to get her out of his mind. She didn't want an apology, she had told him once while in her cell, because she knew that he wouldn't mean it. The only way that he could right his wrongs towards her would be to tell the truth, possibly for the first time in his life.

Lucius could barely even remember the conversation. His body had been soaked with drink and at that point the Dark Lord no longer had an interest in her knowledge. She was just a prisoner, a forgotten one at that. But he had continued to trek down into the dungeons to probe her mind. She wasn't broken as he had become, so to see her fall raised him up in his estimation.

His voice didn't hesitate to answer as the long list continued. He could see, as his eyes continued to search for her, that the crowd was shocked at his willingness to comply. He would have thought it was his deeds that garnered this type of reaction, but then, people were as he expected them to be. They were sheep, all of them, and that was their downfall.

They would learn nothing from this, a fact that she had admitted. That didn't mean that he wouldn't pay because he would, but it wouldn't have the reaction that she would wish. The people here would talk for a few days about the war and the atrocities that himself and others of his kind had committed. They may even talk of the crimes he had committed against her, but they would quickly move on with the latest piece of gossip. They would forget and therefore be unaware of the next threat that he was sure would loom on the horizon.

She herself had once told him that the true failure of the light was that they lacked the foresight to educate and warn. She told him that was what caused the Dark Lord to achieve such support. The people were not educated in how to defend themselves against tyranny and bigotry. They probably never would be.

With his last crime read and answered to, the minister waited a moment, probably savoring the dramatic pause, before delivering his fate to the crowds. He neither cared nor heard what was said. It was at that moment that he finally caught sight of her. She looked exactly the same as the last time he had seen her, except for her eyes. They were always different.

Her head was always held high when he came to see her. She never lowered her eyes to the ground, but kept them locked with his. She never screamed when he raised his wand to her and she always stood back up even after he knocked her down.

He remembered calling her by her name in that cell and hardly ever slandering her with the crude name that applied to her. She was always Hermione, never mudblood. He supposed, at the time that it was because she said it so often when he left. He remembered laughing at her attempts to try and humanize herself but it never dawned on him that she was humanizing him. With each whisper of her name, she had cemented in him an image of her.

He recalled the elation he felt when he was told to deliver her from her dank cell to the Dark Lord. The joy was like none other. He had been sure that she was about to die and he relished in the thought that the moment had finally come.

The Dark Lord though, had other things on his mind. With great honor, Lucius bathed in the honor that it was to be him that would end her. He celebrated the fact that he would no longer hear her voice in his head, no longer have to deal with her maddening eyes meeting his and demanding that he acknowledge her.

He remembered that she didn't even cry as she knelt before him, wholeheartedly accepting of her death at his hands. He had savored the power that he had felt in that moment. It was a decadent and heady feeling.

He took pleasure in the weight of the knife in his hand. It wasn't too heavy, but substantial and perfect for it's intended use. He remembered following the glint of light off the silver as he had walked over to her and instructed her to hold out her wrists.

It had only taken two quick flicks of his wrist for the blood,her blood, blood that was the same color and consistency as his, to flow. It must have been his imagination, but he could have sworn it was flowing towards him, threatening to drown him. He remembered shaking his head to rid himself of the image. When he finally looked up, it was to meet her eyes. The usually bright amber was fading, clouding over as quickly as her blood was falling. She was going under but still managed to hold his gaze. In that moment, she made a promise with to be there, in the end. Her eyes promised that she would stand beside him when it, his end, finally came.

He had considered that he was going crazy, especially when he grasped her wrists and pressed his thumbs into the wounds, letting her blood well up over his fingers, running faster and coating his hands with thick crimson. He dropped one wrist and grasped her chin between his fingers, smearing her blood across her pale skin and forced her to keep his gaze until the life finally left her. He remembered begging her with his mind to keep her promise.

She had smiled at him, that sweet tranquil smile before it all ended. The Order had finally showed up, demanding that she be returned, but it was too late. She had slumped against him, her curls, having regrown mixed with his own platinum locks. He had run at that moment, letting her body slide to the rich Aubusson carpet, fighting for what he didn't even know. All he had known was that he had to return to her.

He didn't even see the dementor as it glided forward to float in front of him. His senses were completely cut off as they were focused on one thing. He was mad, he was sure of it, but he still held himself tall. Her eyes danced with delight before him as the creature made it's move.

She had kept her promise to be there in the end. Her ghostly curls floating behind her as she finally forgave him. She stood at his side, his equal. Hermione Granger.

He closed his eyes.