A/N - This story is rated "M" for violence, and for future sexual situations. This fic starts out DARK but it will get lighter, eventually. But not really fluffy light, just so you know.

This is mainly a Hermione-centric fic; it starts off HG/RW, and will progress to HG/DM. The progression is long, however, as this is Hermione's story, and not just a Dramione piece. I'm not going to Weasley bash, and I'm going to keep the characters as true to life as possible (in other words, Hermione doesn't turn into a sex goddess and Draco doesn't become a Hufflepuff).

It's almost 1 year after the Battle of Hogwarts; everything remains as in Deathly Hallows, but Voldemort didn't die.

As of 5.23.12 I will be re-editing this now that it's done; I won't be changing anything serious, but there are some grammar and spelling mistakes I'll be fixing.

Also... I'm not JK Rowling and I own nothing of consequence, including Harry Potter. But you knew that, didn't you?

It was toward the end of the 2nd Wizarding War that she lost control, although she had no way of knowing how close they were to killing Voldemort at the time. She had once vowed to never use Dark Magic, but eventually, the Cruciatus curse became like second nature to her. The first time she tried it, purely out of blind panic, she retched for hours. She was unable to look at herself in the mirror for days. It tore at her, the shame. You have to mean that curse. You have to want someone to suffer. How could she have allowed herself to feel that, to do such a thing? How could she let her humanity slip like that, even for a moment?

The second time it happened, she told herself it was a simply a mistake. The curse had been in the back of her mind for weeks; she had become obsessed with her sin. When she encountered the masked Death Eater, when she had stood face to face with her own mortality, just inches from the Killing Curse as it flew to the right of her, just inches away… it slipped from her lips. Of course, it wasn't just a slip. Once again, you have to mean the Torture Curse, and she could tell from the screams of the Death Eater at the end of her wand that she had wanted nothing but his misery and suffering.

After that it became easier and easier to justify. If they could throw Avada's around without a thought, shouldn't she be able to fight back with something stronger than a stunning spell? Didn't the Order deserve something to even the playing field?

It continued that way for a while. She was in control, she was capable of wielding the curse and remaining herself. Harry and Ron were concerned about her, of course, worried that the amount of hatred necessary to control the curse would affect her. Who were they to say, though? Both of them had thrown their fair share of Crucios. Wanting to be accountable for herself, she kept track of the number of people she cursed, remembered their faces, the sound of their screams. She owned her attacks, her curses. She was in control of her magic. But then…

When it happened, she didn't hear him, didn't see him. He gave her no indication of his presence; she didn't even feel the foreboding, cloying sensation of Dark Magic. One moment she was on guard duty, walking the perimeter of Hogwarts, and suddenly she was face-down on the ground, felled by a Body-Bind Curse. By the time she realized what had happened, his boot was on her face, and he was pushing her right cheek into the mud. He leaned closer, his breath on her skin, "Ahh well, this all too fitting, isn't it? Tsk, tsk, tsk, it's just too perfect. What a lovely scene, Gryffindor's Princess, filthy inside and out." She didn't recognize his voice. From her vantage point, she could see one of his dark leather boots, and the black of his robe. Reaching down to drag his wand against her cheek, her attacker whispered in her ear, "Hermione Granger, the champion of the Mudbloods. Do you know how long I've been searching for you? How long I've dreamt about getting you alone, on your back, in the mud?" With a flick of his wand she was flipped, her spine aching from the sudden impact of the ground, her neck snapping back as her vision was now filled with sky and treetops. Slowly his face came into view, and she gasped at the sudden recollection. Theodore Nott. He was a classmate of hers at Hogwarts; while they had never spoken more than a word or two to one another, they had sat Potions together. He was intelligent, though soft-spoken. He was a Slytherin, but had never really joined in on the torment Malfoy so enjoyed. In another world, they may have been casual acquaintances, friends, even.

But this wasn't another world.

Day 1

She awoke in an unfamiliar dungeon, her entire body crying in pain. She vaguely remembered falling into unconsciousness after a series of particularly damaging Crucios, although her swollen eye told her that not all of her injuries were magical. The metallic taste of blood filled her senses, and she was having difficulty breathing; the intense pain she felt when she tried to move told her it was most likely caused by broken ribs or a collapsed lung. She carefully took an inventory of her body. She could feel cuts and bruises, but it seemed that her bones were intact, save for her ribs. She didn't seem to be hurt as badly as some of the prisoners the Order had rescued in the past, but she was pretty sure she'd only been there a day. Unless the Order knew where she was being held, he still had time to make his mark on her.

Day 5

The next time she was fully aware of herself and her surroundings, days later, she was in less pain, but the nausea and dread that she felt was just as debilitating. She was also wearing much less clothing, which should have concerned her more than it did. She knew these monsters would use anything and everything to torture, and she didn't let herself dwell on the possibilities. She couldn't remember anything that had happened since she was placed in this prison. She took a few moments to assess her surroundings; she was locked up in a cell, lying on a cement floor. Directly in front of her she saw the bars that held her hostage, and beyond them, stairs leading up to a landing. In the corner of her small room she saw a piece of bread and a glass with some sort of liquid; innocuous, it looked just like water, and she was incredibly thirsty. "No," Hermione whispered, shaking her head. She couldn't drink that, couldn't eat the bread. She was sure that it was cursed; there was no way in hell she would touch that food. She gathered the deepest breath possible, which wasn't saying much in her current condition, and she screamed for help. "Hello! Is there anyone else there? My name Hermione Granger and I'm being held prisoner! I am a member of the Order of the Phoenix. Is there anyone there?" She screamed for the better part of an hour, until she started coughing blood and passed out from the pain. No one had answered her calls.

Day 16

She awoke to the sensation of needles piercing every inch of her skin. She couldn't breathe, couldn't scream, couldn't THINK. All that existed was the pain. Pain. White-hot, searing. Pain. Like she was burning alive, swimming in acid, breathing in soot and ash and death. Then it stopped.

When she was able to open her eyes, she saw him again. Nott. His tall frame filled her vision. He had one hand clasped tightly on her neck and the other wrapped around her waist, pulling her towards him. Was she standing? How could she stand after all that torture? She looked up, confused, and realized with sudden horror that she was bound to the wall by her hands. Theo Nott's eyes lit up, filled with… on anyone else it would have been described as joy, but such a creature could not know that sort of happiness. Anticipation? Delight? Pleasure. He enjoyed this. That sick bastard.

He slowly let go of her neck and her hip, tracing his finger across her clavicle, down her sternum, then stood back and grinned. "Well, well. Awake at last, Princess. I've been missing you terribly, I must admit. All that unconsciousness left me positively bored stiff. I much prefer you awake and screaming. I like a bit of fight in my girls. Keeps things… interesting." His mouth smiled widely, but his eyes… they didn't even look human anymore. There was a feral quality about them that chilled her through and through. Where was the boy she had seen sitting at the Slytherin table in the Great Hall? They had only been out of school, what, 2 years? Less, for Nott, if he had attended seventh year. How could he become an animal in such a short time?

He leaned back, letting his eyes slowly drag down her body. She felt the bile rise in her throat as he let out a soft moan. "Lovely little Mudblood you are, pet. A little bit on the skinny side, but then again, it has been a while since I let you eat anything of substance, hasn't it? What would you like my dear? Something savory, perhaps?" He leaned close again, his mouth on her ear, "Oh do you prefer something sweet?" His teeth nipped at her earlobe, "I know I do."

He let out a soft laugh when she sharply drew in a breath, stifling a whimper. She tried to concentrate on her breathing, tried to clear her mind. She wouldn't yell, or cry, or beg, not this time. She would be like ice, cold, immobile. She wouldn't give him the satisfaction of her pain.

Nott slowly dragged his hand down the side of her face to her collar bone, whispering over her side, her hip, and then reached into his pocket for his wand. She felt the tip of it poke into her stomach, and he whispered an incantation. The wand pulled across her bare midsection as he drew designs on her skin. Each movement felt like a blade in her belly. She looked down in horror to see that he was cutting into her. It felt like a deep gash, slashing her in half, but she could see that it only sliced through flesh. The pain went much, much deeper. She closed her eyes, her throat burned to release the pent-up scream she would not give him. She fought the tears furiously, and felt nothing but shame as the first one escaped her. She tried to keep her eyes closed but the agony was too much. He slowly leaned forward and caught her tear on the tip of his tongue. "Delicious," he hissed with a sardonic smile. She looked down at her stomach in horror as he played with her flesh, slicing at her casually, seemingly without thought. She fought back the bile once again when she saw that he had written his name on her, as if he was doodling on a bit of scratch paper. If she survived this, she would make him pay. If she survived this, she'd write her name in his blood.

Day 47

Revenge came weeks later, although with her present perception of time, it may as well have been months. That day he had changed his routine. Normally he would set a bit of food at her feet, release her bonds and watch her fall on her hands and knees. That day, however, he came to her cell in dress robes and, with all the etiquette and manners his Pureblood heritage afforded him, he asked if she would be so kind as to join him for lunch. She had said no, of course, spitting at his feet and asking for his death, but it hadn't mattered. He sat her down at the table and chairs that he had conjured, her wrists still chained together. There was a tablecloth, wine glasses, and actual food, not the mere bread and cheese he normally offered her. She wanted to kill him right then and there. After the disgusting and agonizing things he did to her, unspeakable things she would carry to her grave… after the blood and the torture, he wanted her to sit and eat at the same table with him? No, he wanted to pretend that she ENJOYED this, that she WANTED to dine with him, to sip wine and converse with this bastard. He had tried to feed her, tried to TALK to her, like they were FRIENDS. He had called her names, not the ones that she could handle, like Mudblood, or Whore, but sweet names. Love. Sweetheart. Darling. When she had spit out the food and attempted to kick him, he had forced her back onto the table and poured wine down her throat. When she was too drunk to stand, he force fed her, petting her hair and telling her that she was a good girl. When he was finally done with her, and she was once again bound to the wall, she did her best to vomit everything up, screaming at him, cursing his name. She fell asleep with murderous thoughts to keep her company, and awoke to screams that were, for once, not her own. Her head spun from the alcohol still coursing through her system, and she emptied her stomach once more. When she had finished heaving, she listened closely, hoping to hear the screams again, to get a clue as to what was happening at the top of those stone stairs.

Straining her ears, she thought she heard what sounded like her captor dueling someone, but whom? Within seconds, she heard a second voice, this one gloriously familiar. Not Nott, nor another monster, but her savior.

"Harry!" she screamed, hysterical. He had come for her. She wasn't going to die here alone.

She saw him race down the stairs, blasting open the cell door with a flash of light. He strode to her, one hand grabbing her around the waist as his wand released her from her chains. His face contorted into a look that told her just how much physical proof of her torture Nott had left on her body. His vibrant green eyes were wet, his look of shock unavoidable. Carefully, not trusting himself to speak just yet, he reached into his robes and pulled out a vial of liquid. Removing the stopper, he tipped her chin up and lifted the elixir to her lips, letting the warm liquid run down her throat. Slowly she felt strength return to her, and she whimpered into his hand as the potion poured through her veins like fire. Harry put one arm behind her shoulders and another behind her knees, and gently lifted her up. Her head lolled back as he carried her up the stairs and away from her private hell. "Hermione, I've got you. I've got you. We're here, you're safe, hold on," his voice shook, husky and raw.

When she saw Theodore Nott in the room at the top of the stairs, very much alive and bound to a chair, she cried out in fear. His mouth was open but she couldn't hear him – he had been Silencio'd. His eyes locked on to hers as he mouthed the word "Mudblood" and pursed his lips into a kiss. Hermione turned her head, burrowing her face into Harry's neck as she let out a sob.

"Shhhhh, it's okay 'Mione, I've got you, he can't hurt you." Harry's words were comforting as he again tried to console her, but his voice betrayed his grief and concern. Her hands grabbed at his back, digging into his shoulders and her body convulsed, unwilling to believe that the torment was truly over. Was he really here? Was Nott messing with her mind again, making her see things that weren't there? But no, this couldn't be Nott; she had just seen him tied up, unable to hurt her any more. And there, in the corner of the room, his face in his hands, was Ron. Her Ron. He had been waiting for her, guarding Nott, when he saw the frail figure in Harry's arms. Was this truly Hermione? This shadow of a woman? His breath had caught in a sob as he slid down the wall. How could he have let this happen? Maybe if they had found her sooner…

Hermione gasped his name, her limbs flailing as the potion gave her the strength to throw herself out of Harry's arms and run to the red-haired man. "Ron, oh gods, Ron," she wept as her hands pulled at his arms, begging him to look at her. He slowly allowed his eyes to meet hers, his face wet with grief, his jaw clenched impossibly tight. He reached towards her, pulling her into an embrace. His shoulders shook as his muffled sobs resounded against the stone floor. Hermione didn't know how long they sat there in their sorrow. Suddenly she realized that Harry's hands were rubbing her shoulders, and the room had been dark for at least an hour. Raising her head, she looked in Harry's eyes, and softly asked, "Can we go home now?" He returned her gaze. "Of course. There is the matter of Nott… He needs to be brought back to Headquarters for questioning before he is released to the proper authorities." She nodded, "Of course. The only thing I ask is that I get to interrogate him."

Harry looked at her with a mixture of distress and confusion, "'Mione, I don't think that's a good idea. He's already done you so much harm, I think it would be counter-productive to your recovery for you to even be in the same room as him."

Hermione's eyes quickly turned darker and her posture stiffened. "I was trying to be polite. It wasn't a question. I will be the one to interrogate him." Her eyes softened, lightening once more, "But Harry, will you be there with me, when it happens? I need you there." He bit his lip, his eyes questioning, but he nodded once in agreement. Helping his best friends to their feet, Harry shared a quick look with Ron; he knew they were thinking the same thing: how on earth would Hermione ever truly recover from this?