Everything was dark, and she knew only pain.

Hermione was losing her sense of reality with every new blast of pain that filled every inch of her being and burned her nerves like torches. Her voice was fading more with every scream, but she couldn't control the wild, desperate shrieks that were tearing out of her raw, bone-dry throat. Her eyes were clouded and when they were opened, they saw only blurs of the crazed, sadistic witch who was screaming an inch from her face.

"What else did you take from my vault?"

Hermione cried harder during a brief respite from the pain, allowed by Bellatrix only so she could speak. She had given Bellatrix the same answer five times now. She shook her head violently from side to side, trapped by the weight of the older witch, hoping for a miracle, hoping for this to end and to be saved, but her cursedly logical mind kept reminding her that it wasn't likely.

Another scream from Bellatrix, and another wave of excruciating pain. Hermione's shrill shrieking filled the air, and when the pain finally subsided, her head lolled to the right and she fixed her almost unseeing eyes on those of the blonde boy who was watching her.

His lip was quivering, and he looked as if he was going to vomit. His terrified silver eyes locked with her blurry brown ones, and though she knew he couldn't hear her, inside of her mind she screamed for him to help her.

Please, Draco... please...

He had risked his life once before to save her, in the Battle of the Astronomy Tower. She had been about to be mauled by a vicious but untransformed werewolf, and he had hexed him off of her at great risk to himself. Now, in a different sort of danger, she begged and pleaded silently for him to act, to do something, anything...

But he didn't. He stood there, flanked by his parents, and stared in horror, as Bellatrix sent another bout of pain through her body. Hermione kept her eyes on his throughout the pain, opening her mouth to scream, but this time, nothing came out.

Then the pain was gone, but a new kind replaced it. Bellatrix's short silver knife was slicing through her right arm, and Hermione recovered her lost voice to let out a blood-curdling scream. Draco gasped at the sound, though the sound was masked by the screams, and his face twisted in even more horror, but he still did nothing.

Then Bellatrix's weight was gone at last, and Hermione lay sprawled out on the floor, bleeding, only half-conscious, staring at the ceiling as her arm burned as if on fire and bled heavily. Darkness was creeping up on her, warm and inviting, offering to take her away from the torture that she had just endured, to take her away from everything, but she fought it with everything that she had left inside of her. Her breathing was shallow and her heartbeat was irregular and dangerously rapid, but she held on, fighting the forces that were trying to close her eyes and plummet her world into the black. She turned her head to the side once more, and stared again at the boy she once loved.

He was still there, still frozen, and still looking at her with terror etched in his features. Very distantly, she could recall their brief affair that took place the year prior, and how he had turned her world upside down. She had tried to help him, tried to convince him to seek help and protection from the Order of the Phoenix, and even kept his secret for six weeks that he was a Death Eater whose mission it was to assassinate Albus Dumbledore. He had repaid her by saving her life that night under the Astronomy Tower, after he failed to carry out his orders to kill Dumbledore, and they hadn't spoken or seen each other until now.

Now, hatred began to replace the pain and haze that Hermione had been drowning under. She felt nothing but disgust for the boy who had just watched her be nearly tortured into insanity without lifting a finger, who was still staring at her with that stupid cowardly look on his face.

Coward, he was nothing but a coward. Nothing but a pathetic boy who she now felt ashamed to have ever touched or kissed. She shed a single tear that dripped down from her cheek, and it was the only outward expression of her hatred that she had the strength to muster.

I hate you, Hermione screamed inside her mind, as she had when she had been silently pleading for Draco to help her. I hate you!

How could he just watch? How could he do nothing?

He was a monster, she decided, a monster just like all the rest of them, or maybe even worse. He knew what was right and what was wrong, and he could love, unlike Voldemort, yet he chose to act as if he could do neither. He chose to just stand there and watch the girl he used to hold and protect being tortured and sliced within an inch of her life. He chose to be a coward.

He chose to earn Hermione's hatred. She resolved in that moment that she would never, ever, as long as there was breath in her lungs, forgive Draco Malfoy..