The credit for this story goes completely to Theroyalhighness supergirl, who offered me her story idea when I was still posting "Blessing in Disguise." I warn you now the first chapter is a bit on the dark side, but I promise it gets brighter!


Chapter 1
"Do it, Draco," Bellatrix Lestrange taunted with a deranged glint in her eye. She had Hermione Granger by her sweat and tear-matted brown hair. Blood dripped from the haphazardly sketched "mudblood" that Bellatrix had so kindly carved into the pale skin of her right arm. The grip on her hair was the only thing that held the young witch upright. "Do it now, Draco," Bellatrix shouted, shoving the wounded girl toward the shaking blond boy.

Draco Malfoy caught the whimpering girl, holding her close to support her quivering form. WIth wide gray eyes, he glanced from his psychotic aunt to his desperate to please father. Both seemed to silently urge him to carry out the task they laid before him. Then he looked to his mother, the one person who truly cared for him and his well being. Tears clouded her blue eyes as if she knew this was a fate her only son could not escape.

He began to move, wincing as Hermione whimpered in pain with each step they took. Soon, they retreated to a spare room where they could be alone. Gently, he helped her sit on the floor before taking a seat beside her. Pulling off his blazer, Draco held it to her still bleeding arm in hopes of staunching the flow. "I'm sorry, Granger," he whispered.

"What is it she wants you to do?" Hermione asked, her voice hoarse and raspy from her time spent screaming in pain from Bellatrix's Cruciatus Curse. His silence said it all. Draco averted his gaze, unable to look his former foe in the eye. "You can't do that. Please, Malfoy, please don't do it."

Tears had begun to blur his vision as he dropped the now soiled blazer. He put a few feet of space between them before pulling his knees to his chest to hide his emotions. "They'll know," he muttered. "They'll know if I don't do it, and then they'll kill me. She'll kill me and you and your friends all before You Know Who even gets here."

Struggling to move, Hermione closed a small amount of the distance between them and placed her hand on his arm. "You don't have to do this," she pleaded. "Get Harry and Ron out and we can leave together. The Order can help you, Malfoy."

He laughed a derisive, mirthless chuckle as his eyes fell to the Dark Mark that was covered by his shirt sleeve. "They'd never take me in," he muttered. "Besides, I won't leave my mother here. If anything were to happen to her, I'd-" He shook his head to clear the image of his beloved mother being murdered from his mind. "I'm sorry, Granger. I have to do this."

Her tears began anew as she begged him not to hurt her. Draco, too, allowed his tears to fall; pride be damned. "I'm so sorry, Hermione," he wept as he moved them into position. His hand touched her cheek; a silent plea to look at him. "Are-are you a, um...have you ever done this before?" he asked softly, wiping away her tears with each stroke of his thumb. Hermione shook her head before closing her eyes once more.

Rolling off of her, Draco readjusted his pants and stood. "They're in the cellar," he informed her. "I'll try to help you get them out."

Sitting up, Hermione rebuttoned her jeans and stared at him incredulously. "Will you come with us?" she asked.

Leaning down, he helped her to her feet. When her legs wobbled, he pulled her close, offering her as much support as he could. "I can't," he whispered.

"They'll kill you," she replied, clutching tightly to his black button down shirt. "If you don't do this, you said it yourself, we're all dead."

"I won't do this to you," he replied.

With nervous fingers, Hermione mirrored his action and brushed away his tears. "We have no other choice," she reasoned. "We're not strong enough to fight them. Draco, in order to protect all of us, we have to do this."

When they returned to the drawing room, Draco held a limp and seemingly unconscious Hermione in his arms. "It's done," he told them flatly.

"And? What did you find out?" Bellatrix asked, enthusiastic that her nephew broke the mudblood.

Draco laid her on the floor as gently as possible before crossing to his mother's side. "She knew nothing," he reported. "She knows nothing about the sword of Gryffindor, doesn't know the Order of the Phoenix's plans, and was extremely tight lipped about what she, Potter, and Weasley were doing in the forest. It was a waste of time."

Angrily, Bellatrix, with her dark hair swaying wildly as she moved, approached Draco and slapped him. "We should not have allowed this useless boy to interfere," she said, her eyes dark and intimidating. "Tell me, Draco, were you able to accomplish this task better than you were able to kill that old fool?" she asked, running a black, manicured nail down his pale cheek.

Draco remained stoic. "Take a look at my memories if you'd like," he spat back. And that was exactly what his aunt did. He relived the entire scene in his mind, listened to Hermione scream loudly as he took her virginity. What he blocked from his aunt's view was the way he held her afterwards as they both cried, apologizing profusely, pressing a kiss to her forehead before he cleaned them up. He'd instructed her to pass out once she was in his arms, and together they left the room. He breathed raggedly when the deranged woman left his mind.

"Well, perhaps he's not so useless after all," she commented with a crazed smile.

There was a commotion then as the prisoners appeared with the Malfoys' former house elf, Dobby. Ron Weasley rushed to Hermione's side, hefting her to him as Harry confiscated Draco's wand. Together, the Golden Trio, Luna Lovegood, the goblin Griphook, and Mr. Ollivander disappeared with the help of the small elf.

Draco stared down at the floor where Hermione had laid only seconds before. A hand on his shoulder led the young man from the drawing room, past the room he'd occupied previously, and into an unused study. He was directed to a chair and given a glass of water. When he didn't drink, the hand that led him there raised the glass to his lips and urged him to take a small sip. "Mum," he finally said, his voice so small he sounded like a child. "I'm sorry."

Narcissa Malfoy placed a warm hand on her son's cheek. "What for, my love?" she asked, worry filling her blue eyes.

"I hurt her," he murmured. "I failed you."

Draco closed his eyes when she expressed the desire to see his memories. "You care about her," she deduced, a loving smile on her lips. "This war will be over soon, love. You'll get your moment to make things right with Miss Granger."