When Hermione finds out that her entire life has been a lie, manipulated by none other than one Albus Dumbledore, her wavering loyalty is finally pushed over the edge. Is it even possible to betray those who have all but abandoned you? It's seventh year, and the Golden Trio has been broken apart, with the least likely member of the Order defaulting to the ranks of Voldemort. The game is war, and winner takes all.

Warning/Author's Note:

Hermione Riddle story, please expect OOC all around (naturally).
Dumbledore is the baddy. He probably, er, maybe? meant well though.
Should be book compliant up to year five-ish?
And finally, Draco / Hermione ship.

Rated M for violence, language, and one tiny little bit of sexual content.

Characters and universe do not belong to me, and of course I'm not making any profit. Thank you JK for such a wonderful series, and forgive me for showing my love through sacrilege.

A Gift of Acknowledgement

August 1, 1997

Becoming a Death Eater was neither a simple nor pleasant ordeal. For a known muggleborn like herself, it was preposterous. Even the witches and wizards from the purest of bloodlines could fail this test, and if at any given time there was any sign of weakness, or any cause for doubt, they would be killed on the spot. Luckily, tonight's candidate had a surprising ace up her sleeve. If she could live long enough to play it.

It was shortly after midnight when Tom's Inner Circle had gathered at Malfoy Manor for the trial. Often, if the candidate was not well liked, they would suffer jeers. Wormtail had been a classic example of this. However, the contempt held for her was apparently beyond snickering, beyond taunting, and beyond purist catcalls. Even Bellatrix, who often found herself unable to hold her tongue, stood with her back rigid, mouth shut, and eyes narrowed.

Simply put: the atmosphere, a mixture tension and shock, could be cut with a wand.

The young woman who lay prostrate before them was none other than one Hermione Granger; hands, face and clothes all caked in blood-soaked mud. Her muscles suffered spasms from the aftershocks of several bouts of Crucio. She tried to calm her ragged and uneven sobs as much as she could, but with the silence that reigned around her, it was futile.

"I would hear your reasons, child. I'm sure that you're aware we're rarely sympathetic to... your sort."

A sneer surfaced and she nearly spat at this. Another thing she wasn't qualified for, was it?

There are always exceptions, she wanted to say. 'No,' she reminded herself, 'that way of thinking no longer applies to me. From now on, if a muggleborn wants a chance they will have to step up to the challenge. They will have to learn what it's like. They will have to take the initiative, for I am done with them. No more holding their hands, no more coddling them, no more fighting for a collective unit that will do nothing more than complain. I have given them everything, and received nothing in return. My sort, huh? My sort would show more ambition. My sort would...' she cut herself off. She had to convince him. There was no time for bitter mind rants, especially since she suspected that she could not take another Crucio. Willing her voice to reflect the conviction she held, opposed to the weakness in her body, she answered:

"I want to be a Death Eater because I want change. I want to learn what society has forbidden me to. I want to tap into my core, and unlock my full potential. Most of all, I want to join because I want to win. Order be damned, I can't agree with their cause, their thinking and even more, their methods. Albus Dumbledore..." Her voice shook with fury at the inability to find words to describe the insufferable man. Her rage soon drained away to be replaced by exhaustion, and before her nerve was lost completely, she quietly murmured: "And I do believe you'll find my heritage is not a problem, sir."

His grip was almost painful as he forced her eyes to meet his. He did not look surprised; perhaps he had known all along, or at least suspected. If he did, he said nothing, but she could feel him slip into the forefront of her mind. It felt like she had been submersed into a pool of warm water; his probing was so wide and even, that she was unable to pinpoint the location of his entry. It didn't matter. This is what she had been waiting for, thank Merlin. There was no better way to prove her words than to show him her displeasure. Legimens meant that her answer had initiated at least a little bit of interest. This was the next test. She was at his mercy but she had nothing to hide, so she opened the floodgates of her mind until there was not a crack or crevasse that he could not enter. Most minds laid open in this manner were annoying to navigate, so she took the initiative to push forward the thoughts and memories in chronological order: from the moment she had begun to doubt, to the time she decided her loyalties lay elsewhere. He accepted them in this manner, carefully picking them apart and taking time to slip into the other, irrelevant bits that she wasn't giving him, but had left accessible nonetheless. She understood that what she found important may not be the same as he. This would also grant him the cross reference that he would need to ensure that she was not harbouring fabricated memories.

Six years of working alongside people who didn't care. The pleasure of knowing so much turning to a distaste of knowing more than everyone else without effort. The sudden realization that waving her hand and answering questions did nothing. The scathing, accusing glares from fellow students. Show-off. Know-it-all.

Receiving multiple letters declining her apprenticeships. Some worded carefully, others bold enough to use words such as 'heritage'. The most annoying one being from the Ministry, denying her a position because her ideas were too radical, her qualifications did not promote what they had in mind. Her marks were too high, and therefor she made others feel inferior. Her thesis was unattainable.

Finding that there were less animagi. Less spell research. Lower OWL and NEWT levels despite the content being unchanged in over a hundred years. The Wizarding World had reached its peak, and abruptly worked to maintain what it had. By doing this, they created a decline that had begun to snowball over time.

Shortly after Halloween, receiving the letter that her parents had died in a car accident. Memories of the funeral caused renewed grief to wash over her. Guilty relief resurfaced to mark the realization that she was free to openly participate in the war now. They would not be used as ammunition against her. They would not die by Riddle's hand, or be brainwashed by the Order in retaliation. They would not suffer the slow and agonizing death that Albus had always implied would happen whenever she did something reckless.

Winter hols, when no one would approach her (sorrow is infectious, after all), she stumbled on a small collection of forgotten, banned texts. She had taken solace in them, and soon found herself reading more and more. Blood magic, potions, wards, hexes. All illegal. All forbidden. These things could help win the war. On the contrary, if anyone found out she was learning these things, it would ruin her. That didn't stop her from continuing, though. She learned to mask her thoughts and face, so no one would pry.

The memories shifted to early spring, when she finally attended her first Order meeting. She had brought up some very valid contradictions to their plan of attack, been ignored, and the Order had lost. She had been begrudged her for her input, and not invited again. Harry and Ron had, of course, sided with the Order, telling her that her ideas were too severe, and that the planning should be left to Dumbledore. She saw them frequently attend meetings after that, and they would speak about it in front of her in hushed tones. As if it was her choice to no longer be part of the group.

Voldemort rifled through her Dark Arts knowledge a bit more. Though his thoughts were shielded from her, he allowed a wave of pleasure to escape. She had talent, understanding, ability, and was an exceptionally fast and willing learner. She beamed. His response was beyond what she had hoped for. Hermione had wanted to be accepted for what she had to offer, and riding the confidence that Tom had instilled in her, she offered up her last memory not just as an ace, but as a gift. She felt the memory being pulled forward with some interest.

She was thinking of her parents in Grimmauld library when she cast the spell. She dispelled it and cast again, thinking she had made some sort of error. Dumbledore had found her engulfed within the unexpected, vermillion glow, but refused to answer her questions. In fact, with a flick of his wand he had dispelled the light and turned to leave. At the door he stopped and softly advised her that she should not be casting unnecessary spells above her skill level. She did not miss the subtle warning, and wondered why he was so upset. If anyone should have been put out... Afterwards, she found herself kept busy and away from the library, a request she was sure came from the Headmaster. The aurors were not discreet when they came, searching for unacceptable reading material. When he caught her watching one day, she masked her emotions and returned to her work. Joke's on them, she had thought bitterly. As if she didn't move them that very night knowing full well what Dumbledore's reaction was going to be.

She thought this would be it, but suddenly Voldemort was pushing to the very back of her mind, tossing years of her childhood to the side as he went further and further back. A thing about memories: when you rifle through ones the holder has no recollection of, it's mildly uncomfortable. In cases of Obliviate, the memory is not entirely gone. Its shattered remnants have been forced into a barrier within the deepest recesses of the mind. Even a moment of curious inquiry can be agonizing. It can drive a person mad. So it was no surprise when panic began to bubble up inside her as the barrier she didn't know existed (obviously, since she would never remember an Obliviate) was examined carefully. The pain she was bracing herself for never came though; the knowledge that she had been Obliviated in the first place seemed to be enough for him, and he withdrew.

Unlike his entry, his exit was cold and slithery, and though she recovered quickly, it was a bit disconcerting. She slammed her mind shut behind him, and it took everything she had not to sigh in relief. She was still alive, and even felt like she might be able to stand. The decision was crystal, but before anything was said Tom stared at her in astonishment and threw his head back, letting out a bark of laughter. His voice held no malice or wickedness, though a hint of triumph echoed through the night air. He addressed his Death Eaters, who still stood silent.

"Brothers and sisters, I present to you our new member. Though her upbringing is ... highly unfortunate, it may still be salvageable. Teach her the things she has been denied. She is already on the right path." He then turned his attention back to Hermione, reaching forward to cup her chin and examine her face. Terror had been replaced by stern confidence. Shaking had been reduced to the occasional spasm that escaped her control. Eyebrows were knit together, eyes radiating pride. Tom's eyes gleamed as he spoke reassuringly to her.

"When we are done, you will be all the things you seek: powerful, educated, and valuable to our cause. Rise, child." He had called her child earlier tonight, but it amazed her how different it sounded. His tone now held a note of protective sincerity. His expression was quiet, commanding, and she felt compelled to do as he said. With a flick of his wand, she was encased in the same glow from her memory. The only difference was the thin tendril that broke off from her and wrapped around his wand. She felt her mouth fall slightly agape in shock. Tom, who now radiated triumph from only his eyes and the slight upturn of one side of his mouth, held her gaze. What the tendril meant... he knew, she knew, and it seemed the Death Eaters knew too.

The response was deafening.


Please R&R and let me know what you think so far! I have about 18,000 words done of this story, and the basic guideline of what I want to happen (which is much more than 18,000 words by the looks of it) but before I drain the rest of my life... (I mean, dedicate a portion of it) I wanted to get some feedback and see what everyone thinks so far. (Not to mention reviews encourage me to keep writing, obviously!) Anyway, thanks for reading, will get the next chapter cleaned up and posted soon!