Hey guys! So here's a little one shot called After Dark. It's AU 7th book. For the sake of this story, Hermione disappeared from the wedding halfway through, and no one could find her. What the Order didn't know was that she was taken to Malfoy Manor, and after a turn of events that I'm not going to go into depth about (partially because I don't know them well either) she joins the ranks of the Death Eaters, though hesitantly. Don't question it -it's called AU for a reason, yeah?

Written for the Fanfiction Idol competition, round 2 [Our Song]. The given stanza the story took inspiration from:

I thought my heart had learned its lesson

It feels so good when you start out

My head is screaming 'Get a grip, girl

Unless you're dying to cry your heart out'

"I Won't Say (I'm In Love)" from Hercules

Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.


The Dark Lord looked from the Malfoy boy to the Death Eater that was his most faithful.

"Seduce her," he commanded, his voice almost a hiss. "She is far too valuable to our cause to let go."

"As you wish, my Lord," Bellatrix whispered. She was dismissed then, and, with a mischievous sort of glint in her eye, sauntered away from the dark office without so much as a glance back at her nephew. The boy had asked for whatever the Dark Lord decided to give him.

He had treated the girl like she was easily disposable –he had made that clear to her, even –and she knew she had to tread carefully if she wanted to keep the girl at their side. The next week was going to be perilous, she knew, in a way nothing had been for a long time.

This time, there might just be more at stake than death itself.

Hermione Granger sighed –not for the first time that hour –and leaned back against the cold stone wall. She liked it here, in the garden, behind this rose bush (roses and peacocks? She snorted; Lucius Malfoy was a stuck up, pompous, frivolous prick) where no one could find her.

The sky was a deep blue –too blue, and she shut her eyes so she didn't have to look at it. Much better. With her eyes closed, it was like nothing else existed. Just herself, and the grass on which she sat. And, of course, the peacocks that were surely strutting around like they owned the place (she suspected that they did, and that Lucius Malfoy was, in fact, a thief). She liked that. It was quiet, calming, even. It was the only place in this compound where she dared to let her guard drop.

She could be herself here.

And she liked that.

A good several hours later, when it got cold enough that she was shivering right down to her bone, she finally picked herself off the grass and walked back into the house. She'd go straight to her room, she decided. Right after a quick stop at the library. As much as she loathed the Malfoys, she had to admit they had an impressive collection of books around here. And she had to do something if she wanted to be useful.

She took hurried steps, looking around furtively as she went. She didn't want to run into Malfoy. Seeing him –well, she knew she'd have to, since it was his house. But seeing him wasn't something she thought she could handle at the moment.

That was it, she decided. She was through with the cupid and his stupid games. In the end, love was more trouble than it was worth. Malfoy had certainly proved that. She didn't even know how she could even have liked the git –he wasn't much better than Ronald, really. He wasn't.

Or so she tried to tell herself.

The next morning at breakfast, she was sure she looked awful –she'd spent the night tossing and turning in the admittedly very comfortable bed, unable to keep the youngest Malfoy out of her thoughts. She expected jeers, and she wasn't disappointed.

"So the golden girl finally realizes she isn't cut out for this, is she?" Mulciber taunted, his mouth full of what Hermione suspected was French toast, from directly across where she sat at the dining table.

She opened her mouth to say something –she didn't know exactly what, but probably a weak excuse that'd sound feeble even to her own ears –but to her surprise, Bellatrix Lestrange cut in. "If you don't treat her with the respect she deserves as the brightest witch of her age who could easily hex your balls off, Mulciber, you'll have to answer to me. Nobody is to taunt Hermione. Do I make that clear?"

Mulciber, faced with the threat of a (strangely) angered Bellatrix Lestrange, didn't dare do more than simply nod his head meekly. Hermione stared in wonder as Bellatrix shot him a smug look, before glancing over at her and giving her an almost imperceptible little smile.

She excused herself from the table quickly, wondering just what in Merlin's baggiest pants was happening.

This happened all week. Saturday morning she sat alone in her room, on top of the white sheets of her bed. Bellatrix seemed to have gone out of her way to stick up for her, and she also seemed to be everywhere she went. In the library the eldest of the blacks had taught her how to use a spell she was having trouble figuring out (turned out the stupid book hadn't included that one needed to jab the wand at the end of a flick, which turned out to be disastrously tricky for her as Bellatrix Lestrange was there and insisted on helping her for who knows what reason) and she often ran into the elder witch in the corridors, and she'd somehow end up walking with her. It was beyond strange at first, but after the first couple of days she'd grown oddly accustomed to it and by the fourth day something like that had happened, she had started to enjoy Bellatrix's presence.

But that was ridiculous, wasn't it? She was Hermione Granger, the mudblood who had somehow found herself in the ranks of the death eaters, and she –well, she was Bellatrix Lestrange. Nothing more needed to be said, really. Plus, hadn't she decided she wouldn't get close to anyone anymore? She'd felt awful after Malfoy had dumped her in the front porch that day, but three days after that, she'd resolved to stay away from that kind of attachment, hadn't she?

Hermione was a woman of her word, so why did she feel so awkward around Bellatrix? It wasn't rational, the way she was acting. Her heart seemed to beat faster, and every time her skin brushed against the loyal Death Eater's she felt the blood rising to her cheeks and she had to look away lest Bellatrix notice anything. It was stupid. It shouldn't be happening. It had felt good going around with that resolve to keep to herself; where was that resolve now? Did she really want to go around with another broken heart when this thing didn't work out either?

But then she thought of those eyes, and her lips, and her intellect, and Hermione Granger couldn't help but feel risking a broken heart might just be worth it-

No, no, no, no. She needed to get a grip on herself. She really did.

Three knocks on the door sounded, and she casually picked up her wand from her bedside table before calling for whoever it was to enter. The door swung open silently, and there the devil herself stood, her voice light and playful as she said her name. "Hermione."

"Bellatrix," Hermione said curtly.

That was all she would get from her. She didn't care what Bellatrix did after this; she couldn't let anyone else get close to her in the way Malfoy had.

Never again.

Her resolve was back. Finally. She was beginning to think she had lost it to places unknown, and she was relieved to see she hadn't.

And she liked that.

Really, she did.

She did.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you guys thought of it!